The new PC-24 Super Versatile Jet took off on its maiden flight Monday from Buochs airport in Switzerland. Just under 1,800 Pilatus staff, directly or indirectly involved in the project, were there to applaud the business jet as it taxied for takeoff. Prototype P01, call sign HB-VXA, flew across central Switzerland for a total of 55 minutes. Officials from Pilatus Aircraft, the plane's manufacturer, said the flight went exactly as planned with no problems whatsoever.
The twin-engine business jet took off from runway 07 in just under 600 meters and climbed to 10,000 feet (approx. 3000 m) in around three minutes, where the two pilots completed a series of meticulously planned tests. The maiden flight followed a route across central Switzerland – from Altdorf to Brünig via Engelberg.
Test pilot Paul Mulcahy, who has some 11,000 hours under his belt, flew the PC-24 as pilot in command.
Throughout the flight the PC-24 was accompanied and monitored by a PC-21. As is normal on maiden flights, the PC-24 landing gear was not retracted on this occasion. Twelve flight test engineers watched the flight from the ground as they kept an eye on a stream of real-time flight data received from the PC-24.
Challenging test flight program
A total of three PC-24 prototypes will be built and used to complete a rigorous test program of some 2,300 hours over the next two years. Fewer than half those hours will actually be flown in Switzerland, the remainder will be flown elsewhere. Certification and initial deliveries of the first aircraft to come off the production line are planned from 2017.
Pilatus sold 84 PC-24's in the space of just 36 hours at last year's European Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition in May.
The PC-24 is the world's first business jet to be equipped with a cargo door as standard, with takeoff and landing performance that allows the use of very short and even unmade runways. The jet also boasts a spacious cabin with an interior which can be customized to accommodate individual customer needs.