Pilatus Aircraft Industry China, a joint venture between Pilatus and Beijing Tian Xing Jian Yu Science, opened on Monday in Chongqing. According to the joint-venture agreement, the $400 million project includes the “establishment of a company engaged in production, general assembly and maintenance of general aviation aircraft, and the relocation of PC-12 production lines for the Asia-Pacific region and PC-6 production lines from Switzerland to Chongqing.” The Chinese venture will not produce components for Pilatus military training aircraft, namely the PC-21, PC-9M and PC-7 Mk II.
On May 21, surrounded by crowds of eager attendees at EBACE (European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition), Pilatus chairman Oscar Schwenk called for the unveiling of Pilatus Aircraft’s long-awaited new twinjet project, the PC-24. When the black curtain dropped amid clouds of dry-ice-induced smoke to the theme song from the Superman movie, the fuselage mockup of the PC-24 was revealed.
It takes 70,251 rivets and 5,000 man-hours to fabricate a Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprop, and when each PC-12 rolls into the final assembly process in Halle 9 at Pilatus’s Stans, Switzerland factory, the precise time and date when the airplane will be finished is noted on a label attached to the fuselage. This is no rough estimate, and Pilatus (Chalet A122) means exactly what the label says, according to Pilatus sales and marketing executive Fred Muggli.
The global fleet of nearly 1,200 Pilatus PC-12s reached a major milestone this month by accumulating four million flight hours since the first copy of the turboprop single was delivered in October 1994. According to Stans, Switzerland-based Pilatus, the highest time PC-12 has logged more than 24,000 hours in operation as an air ambulance with Air Bravo in Ontario, Canada.
Accompanied by stage smoke and theme music from the Superman movie, Pilatus Aircraft unveiled its long-awaited new twinjet project, the PC-24, today at EBACE. “The PC-24 is unique. It’s the only aircraft combining the versatility of a turboprop with the cabin size of a midsize jet and the field performance of a light jet,” said company chairman Oscar Schwenk.
The Pilatus PC-12 turboprop single is gaining ground as a cost-effective alternative to helicopter air ambulances.
To show the PC-12NG single-engine turboprop on the ABACE static display, Pilatus Aircraft production test pilot Beda Rohner flew a long way, beginning at Pilatus headquarters in Stans, Switzerland. The brand-new PC-12NG departed Stans and then stopped in Greece, Egypt, Bahrain, Karachi and Calcutta. But before the airplane landed in Shanghai, the Pilatus crew stopped in Kunming for a unique flight demonstration for a new PC-12 customer.
On its way to Shanghai, the Pilatus PC-12NG on static display this week at ABACE stopped in Shangri-La for a demonstration of the airplane’s high-altitude capabilities. When the turboprop single took off from Shangri-La Airport in Diqing (elevation 10,787 feet), it had a payload of 2,200 pounds. Included in this payload were six people, including two from the Chinese CAAC (aviation authority), a Chinese navigator and the pilot. The aircraft reportedly used only one third of the airport’s runway before lifting off.
On its way to Shanghai, the Pilatus PC-12NG here on the ABACE static display stopped in Shangri-La (Tibet) for a demonstration of the airplane’s high-altitude capabilities. When the turboprop single took off from Shangri-La Diqing Airport–elevation of 3,288 meters (10,787 feet)–it had a payload of 1,000 kg (2,200 pounds). Included in this payload were six passengers (two from the CAAC), one Chinese navigator and the pilot. The aircraft reportedly needed only one third of the airport’s runway before lifting off the ground.
As the fleet of PC-12s approaches 1,200 worldwide, with approximately 70 percent of them in the U.S., Pilatus Aircraft is expanding its service network to meet the demand for customer support. The company recently named Northern Air, based at Gerald Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich., as a satellite service center under the sales and service region managed by Londonderry, N.H.-based Pro Star Aviation. Million Air Houston was also added as a satellite service center under Tempus Aircraft Sales and Service of Englewood, Colo.
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