Pilatus PC-24: Buyer’s and Investor’s Guide
The Pilatus PC-24 is the first private jet from Switzerland’s Pilatus, bringing ‘super versatility’ to the competitive light jet market for $8.9 million.
The ability to land of virtually any kind of surface opens up the Pilatus PC-24 to new markets that were previously closed off to private jets. As a unique selling point, this gives the PC-24 a serious edge in a very competitive marketplace.
Its versatility is also very impressive, affording owners the luxury of being able to quickly change the cabin from executive to cargo configuration between legs.
The light jet market is very competitive. Cessna decided to slow down production of its Citation jets instead of heavily discount values, while Embraer led the market for two years straight, with the popular Phenom 300 emerging as the most-delivered new business jet model in both 2013 and 2014.
Pilatus will certainly have its work cut out in order to fulfill its delivery promises (the pressure was too much for Eclipse Aviation, which folded after a successful first couple of years) – particularly as it lacks the same financial clout as some of the better-established manufacturers.
Pilatus might not have the same global recognition – or indeed the payroll – of the likes of Airbus or Boeing (the company only employs around 1,500 people), but its proud aircraft owners will tell you that Pilatus is one of the most dependable names in aviation.
With more than 1,000 Pilatus PC-12 turboprops flying and 75 years of aircraft production already under its belt, the Swiss aircraft manufacturer made the bold decision to take on the already crowded – and struggling – light jet market with the launch of the Pilatus PC-24 twin-engine private jet at EBACE 2013.
Competing against the popular Embraer Phenom 300 and Cessna Citation CJ4, the Pilatus PC-24 is priced slightly lower, while offering much greater versatility.
Pilatus opened the order book on the first day of EBACE 2014 and either as a result of genuine, white-hot demand or some clever marketing, it sold out orders for the next five years in a matter of hours, receiving a total of 84 orders from customers ranging from Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia to U-Haul International in the US.
The first production PC-24 was rolled out in early August 2014 to around 25,000 spectators at Buochs Airport, Switzerland.
We are still awaiting the first flight of the PC-24 – originally anticipated by the end of 2014 – which is now due imminently.
While the PC-24 will compete in the light jet market, Pilatus says the PC-24 can land at an additional 1,300 airports around the world compared to its unnamed closest competitor. This has led the manufacturer to invent an entirely new weight class to place the aircraft in: the super versatile jet (SVJ) category.
The PC-24 has been designed to take-off and land on much shorter surfaces – both paved and unpaved – than its competitors, including grass, snow, sand, gravel and even ice, which means it will have a strong market appeal in regions such as Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, where it will often be the only jet aircraft capable of landing.
The aircraft has a maximum range of 1,950 nm, which is slightly more than the Phenom 300, but less than the Cessna Citation CJ4. Like both of those aircraft, the PC-24 aircraft will be certified for single pilot operation.
It has a top speed of 489 mph (787 kmph), which is less than its competitors, but it is significantly faster than the PC-12 turboprop.
The Pilatus PC-24 is very spacious for a light jet, with a cabin measuring 501 cubic ft and 51 cubic ft of baggage space. However, the partition which separates the passenger cabin and baggage compartment is easily removable to increase the amount of cargo for each flight.
Being such a versatile aircraft, it can be quickly reconfigured to carry six to eight passengers in an executive layout or up to 10 passengers in a commuter layout, with a large cargo door fitted as standard. The cabin can also be configured for emergency services, which is reflected by the initial orders from Australia’s Flying Doctors.
The executive layout uses soft leathers and hardwood cabinetry. There are 13 large cabin windows along the fuselage, providing and light and airy feel inside the cabin, and a fully-enclosed private lavatory.
The Pilatus PC-24 will retail at $8.9 million, making it slightly cheaper than the likely prices of its closest competitors when it first delivers in 2018.
Clearly it is not yet possible to buy a pre-owned PC-24 but for rough guidance, Citation CJ4 and Phenom 300 pre-owned values are around $5.5-$9 million.
Based on the initial 84 orders for the PC-24, it is likely that both PlaneSense in New Hampshire and Jetfly in Luxembourg will allow their customers to buy fractional shares in their small fleet of PC-24, while Falcon Aviation Services will make their aircraft available for charter.
Range: 2,243 mi/3,610 km/1,937 nm
Maximum speed: 489 mph/787 kmph/425 knots
Typical passengers: 6-8 (executive) or up to 10 (commuter)
Typical crew: 1-2
Competitor aircraft: Cessna CJ4 / Embraer Phenom 300
List price for a new Pilatus PC-24: $8.9 million
First delivery: January 2018 to PlaneSense
Next slots: 2019