Pilatus Aircraft is down to the final few tests of its new PC-24 before certification is expected by the end of the year.
Three of the twinjets have participated in the flight test program, including one that will be flying another 150 hours in the next few weeks as part of function and reliability testing, called F&R in the flight test business. That is occurring in concert with fight and data review by the European Aviation Safety Agency. EASA and FAA certification should occur nearly simultaneously. With that, Pilatus plans to deliver its first customer airplane by the end of the year, according to Markus Bucher, CEO of the Swiss company.
The company has 84 orders for the jet and hasn’t accepted any new orders in a couple of years, believing a large backlog only frustrates customers. It plans to reopen the order books sometime in 2018 once it better understands how long it will take to ramp up deliveries. About 22 are expected to be delivered next year.
To support ramp-up of jet production and continued growth of its PC-12NG turboprop deliveries and its military business, the company has been investing extensively in factory and support infrastructure in Stans, Switzerland, and its U.S. operation in Broomfield, Colorado. About 50 percent of its market is in military aircraft and the balance in general aviation.
The company celebrated the 1,500th delivery of its rugged PC-12NG earlier this year, to the Royal Flying Doctors Service in Australia. In total it plans to deliver 85 PC-12s this year, down slightly from the 91 sent out last year.