Pilatus Aircraft marked a double celebration on 16 November, launching an upgraded version of its nine-year-old Pilatus PC-12NG and announcing the first flight of the second PC-24 test aircraft.
The superlight jet – registration HB-VXB - took off from Stans at 10:06 local time and flew across Switzerland for 82mins.
P02 joins the first prototype which made its maiden flight in May and has since flown 143 hours across 87 sorties. A third test aircraft will join the programme late next year. “We are overwhelmed by the success for the programme so far,” says Pilatus chief executive, Markus Bucher. Pilatus’s first business jet remains on track for certification in 2017.
In order to maintain the turboprop single’s position in the market – with almost 1,400 delivered to date - Pilatus has launched an upgraded version featuring better take-off and climb performance, more cabin comfort, greater range and speed and a quieter cabin.
“Our aim is to keep this popular turboprop as fresh and as innovative as possible,” says Bucher. “Our biggest competitor is pre-owned PC-12s and these aircraft are really holding their value right now.”
The new NG will have a top speed of 285kt (530 km/h) – 5kt more than the current model - thanks to “an aerodynamic optimisation effort which analysed every square inch of the exterior of the PC-12 to come up with enhancements to reduce drag”.