Air Partner - 07 Feb 2019
Over recent years, the charter market has welcomed new aircraft that have evolved the definition of the Light Jet category, such as the Embraer Phenom 300 and Cessna Citation CJ4. Now, the Swiss manufacturer Pilatus is aiming to set a new precedent for Light Jets with its latest model, the PC-24.
The first jet to be manufactured by the Buochs-based company, the PC-24 draws on the success of Pilatus' PC-12 turboprop – a highly versatile aircraft that combines a plush executive cabin with impressive short runway and 'up-country' performance. Whilst the PC-12 was an economical option for price conscious passengers and excelled on short runways (mountain airstrips, small island airports, game reserves and other remote destinations usually out of the question for most other aircraft), being a single engine aircraft presented a drawback. As a company that puts our customers' safety first, our twin-engine rule means that the PC-12 doesn't meet our requirements, despite its excellent all-round performance.
Not only does the PC-24 solve this pitfall with its twin-engine, it innovatively translates the design philosophy of the PC-12 to a jet aircraft that is expected to be a serious competitor to existing models of long lineage, with the possibility of turning into a market leader within the Light Jet category.
From a passenger's perspective, the PC-24 cabin excels on almost every metric compared to similar Light Jet models. The internal headroom of 5ft1 and width of 5ft7 is the best in the Light Jet category, as is the overall cabin volume of 500ft3. A flat floor across the entire cabin width adds to the spacious feel. This allows for a genuine 8 individual seat configuration with more spacious 6 seat or dense 10 seat options also a possibility. Uniquely, the cabin is designed for quick re-configuration, a feature that means the cargo hold partition can be moved to accommodate different passenger and baggage loads. The BMW-designed interior is plush and comfortable, with seats that recline and swivel, stowable tables by every seat and clean, sleek lines throughout.
Two features in particular exemplify how versatile modern jets, such as the PC-24, are becoming. The generous baggage hold has a unique full size cargo door that makes loading large or bulky items (such as skis or hunting gear) easy. Another feature that is now a standard on today's Light Jet aircraft is a separate toilet with basin, in this case located opposite the entry door and partitioned from the main cabin.
Possibly even more impressive than the spacious cabin is the aircraft's performance. No other comparable aircraft can land on or take off from runways as short as the PC-24. This is achieved by an incredibly slow landing speed and a stall speed of just 82 knots - seriously impressive for a jet aircraft with a swept wing. The PC-24 is also capable of using unpaved runways (such as grass or gravel strips) thanks to its double twin wheel main landing gear and other unique design aspects. This means access to smaller airports and more remote destinations, such as game reserves. Pilatus boasts that this will double the airports worldwide available to the PC-24 compared with competing aircraft. In practical terms it means access to places that have previously been solely the preserve of smaller, slower and generally older turboprop aircraft. Despite its remarkable short field performance, the range of the PC-24 approaches 2,000 nautical miles with 4 passengers, putting just about any airport pairs in Europe within reach.