A labour of love
Almost two years to the date that the HondaJet received its type certification from the US FAA, the Pilatus PC-24 received its type certificate this morning.
Both aircraft could been seen as a labour of love for their designers. Michimasa Fujino’s HondaJet took 17 years to bring to market, while Oscar Schwenk’s PC-24 took eleven and a half years.
The PC-24 has, considering that Pilatus is a first time jet manufacturer, gone from first flight to certification in record time.
Not only that, it has stuck to its originally announced development schedule and stayed within its originally announced specifications.
It is also likely to have stayed within budget.
In its press release announcing joint certification with the FAA and EASA, Pilatus says that the aircraft cost just over $500 million to develop. It also invested just over $150 million in buildings and machinery to support serial production. Converted into 2017 dollars, the first LearJet cost just over $71.5 million to develop.
Pilatus has a long history of designing and building turboprop aircraft. Its PC-12 recently crossed the 1,500th delivery mark, and is still in production today.
The PC-24 is, in essence, the jet version of the PC-12. Both aircraft have large cargo side doors, and are capable of using unpaved strips.
When the PC-24 was launched at EBACE, Pilatus took the unusual step of having a live order board above its stand. This included, in some cases at least, the names of the companies that placed orders. Many were existing PC-12 customers, upgrading to the PC-24.
Pilatus closed the book at 84 orders. There were several reasons for doing this. Firstly, it wants to be sure that it can deliver the aircraft on schedule. Secondly, by not flooding the market with aircraft, it creates demand, which helps keep up the residual values on the aircraft.
Now that the aircraft has been certificated, deliveries can begin. Pilatus says that, although the first aircraft will be delivered to launch customer PlaneSense before the end of this year, it will fly away in January.
Every new aircraft coming into the market is exciting but, with its side cargo door and short field performance, the PC-24 is one of the most exciting aircraft we have seen for a long while.