Pilatus’ Super Versatile Jet Makes First Landing at Unimproved Airport

Pilatus has started flight testing the PC-24 Super Versatile Jet at unimproved fields. Pilatus

Pilatus’ recently certified PC-24 Super Versatile Jet has made its first takeoff and landing at an unimproved airfield. The test flight was made at Woodbridge Airfield north east of London, which was built in the 1940 for the Royal Air Force and is still used by the British Army.

“What a picture – the PC-24 in the toughest conditions, using an unpaved runway for the first time,” said Pilatus’s chairman Oscar J. Schwenk. “The PC-24 was designed with exactly this sort of operation in mind – that’s Swiss engineering at its very best.” The PC-24 used only a fraction of the massive dirt runway for both the takeoff and landing. The PC-24 has been designed to fly into unimproved strips as short as 2,810 feet, giving it unmatched versatility in its class. Pilatus claims the rough field certification would double the number of suitable airports for the PC-24.

“This sort of mission would not be conceivable without the PC-24’s rugged landing gear, clever flap systems and special wing design,” said Schwenk.

Since the initial EASA and FAA certification was achieved on December 7 of last year, five PC-24s have been delivered to customers in Europe and the U.S. An additional 23 airplanes of the type are scheduled for delivery this year. The first customer that plans to use the PC-24 for unpaved airstrips is the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) of Australia, which operates a fleet that includes 34 PC-12s among other airplane types. The first delivery to RFDS is scheduled for next year.

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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