22 May 2014 – copyright © David Eyre
On 20 May 2014, the opening day of the European Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Pilatus Aircraft Ltd signed the first sales contracts for the new PC-24 twin jet utility aircraft, including commitments for four aircraft for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Western Operations).
Pilatus conducted extensive market research before launching the new PC-24, consulting PC-12 fleet operators, including the RFDS. The PC-24 is designed to perform the same mission as smaller turboprops, carrying as many as ten passengers in a high-density seating configuration. Pilatus considers that the PC-24 is in a category of its own, known as the “Super Versatile Jet (SVJ)”.
Grahame Marshall, CEO of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (RFDS Western Operations), is keen to see the PC-24 joining the fleet. “When transporting patients requiring emergency medical care, time is always of the essence. With the vast distances we service across Western Australia, covering some 2.5 million square kilometres, the challenge for us has been how to combine a turboprop’s strengths like its dependability and its ability to operate from short and unimproved surfaces, with a jet’s speed – and that is exactly what the PC-24 will now deliver. The other great benefit the PC-24 will bring is enhanced accessibility for our stretcher patients and staff because of its huge aft cargo door. There has been a close ongoing co-operation between RFDS and Pilatus in the definition phase of the PC-24, and we are now very excited to take the next step and become a Launch Customer for the new Super Versatile Jet.”
The PC-24, which is powered by two Williams FJ 44-4A turbofan engines, has been designed to operate from unpaved runways as short as 820 metres (2,690 feet). Pilatus claims it can access more than 21,000 airports worldwide, 100% more than current jet aircraft. Pilatus also boasts that no other business jet offers this much cabin space (14.2 m³) at this price level, or a large cargo door as standard (1.30 x 1.25 metres) for ease of loading. Range with 4 passengers and reserves is 1,950 nautical miles (3,610 km).
All PC-24 delivery positions planned between the start of deliveries in 2017 and the end of 2019 were sold over the first two days of EBACE 2014. First flight is scheduled for late-2014.