Pilatus’s first business jet, the PC-24, made its maiden sortie on Monday, 11 May 2015, two years after the seven-seat twin – dubbed a “super versatile jet” by the Swiss manufacturer because of its proposed short-runway performance and its ability to land on rough landing strips – was unveiled.
The first prototype, P01, registration HB-VXA –– took off at 10.00 local time from Buochs airport, in Stans. Piloted by Paul Mulcahy, the PC-24 flew for 55min across central Switzerland. “The flight went exactly as planned with no problems whatsoever,” says Pilatus, manufacturer of the PC family of civil aircraft and military trainers.
“The PC-24 is capable of exceptional performance,” it continues. “This maiden flight was a first opportunity to showcase some impressive credentials: the twin-engined business jet took off from runway 07 in just under 600m and climbed to 10,000ft… in around 3min, where the two pilots completed a series of meticulously planned tests.”
Throughout the flight, the PC-24 was accompanied and monitored by a PC-21 single-engined turboprop trainer.
In recent months, the PC-24 handling characteristics had been trialled and refined during numerous tests involving a wind tunnel and simulators. The flight test was designed to verify the accuracy of these findings, says Pilatus.
Oscar Schwenk, chairman of the board of directors described the milestone event as an “emotional moment”.
“Seeing our new business jet take off on its maiden flight is something we’ve worked very hard for, and dreamt about for a long time. Today, at last, that ‘Swiss Dream’ became a reality!” he says.
Three PC-24 prototypes will take part in the two-year certification campaign, flying around 2,300h between them. Fewer than half of those hours will actually be flown in Switzerland, Pilatus says, but it has not disclosed where the remainder of the flight test programme will be conducted.
Certification and service entry are scheduled for 2017. The first two years of production – equivalent to 82 aircraft – is already sold out and Pilatus plans to reopen the orderbook in late 2019 to early 2020.