Pilatus’s PC-24 jet has made its first landing on an unpaved runway during a program of post-certification tests at Woodbridge airfield, near London. The aircraft achieved EASA and FAA certification in December 2017.
The Swiss manufacturer designed the aircraft to operate in these conditions, and it is working towards obtaining rough field certification later this year. The company says that the twinjet’s wing and flap system is optimized for slow and steep approaches, and the landing gear’s dual main wheels is ideal for rough surfaces. When asked about the potential for dust and debris entering the engines, Pilatus said the high mounting of the engines protects them from foreign objects, and dust blows up behind the engines where ingestion is not a concern.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia will fly the PC-24 for medevac missions, often on unpaved runways. Pilatus has already delivered five PC-24s and plans to deliver and total of 23 in 2018. Its order book is currently closed, but the company plans to accept new orders in 2019.