Pilatus revealed its PC-12 NGX at the NBAA-BACE in Las Vegas last October, and although the evening “unveiling” – in front of 200 guests – came minutes before Gulfstream’s spectacular reveal of its new G750, it managed to hold its own in the news pages.
According to the Swiss OEM sales were not long coming, with three aircraft sold on the first day of NBAA-BACE alone — the day following the unveiling. First deliveries are due in the second quarter of this year (2020). The standard aircraft list price is $4.39m airplane with the executive configuration listed at $5.37m.
The PC-12 has now surpassed 1,700 deliveries worldwide, many coming since the introduction of the PC-12 NG, which was launched at the 2007 NBAA event. Textron’s move to create the Denali single-engine turboprop served to further validate the prospects for this market, as acceptance of operations with one reliable turboprop grows worldwide.
Pilatus PC-12 NGX: What’s New?
While the original Pilatus PC-12 was a solid all-rounder with Pratt & Whitney’s PT6 engine, the NG added a glass cockpit while an enhanced PT6 offering gave it better performance in take-off, climb and cruise (280 knots). The NGX bumps that max cruise speed to 290 knots.
The latest enhancement adds a completely new interior from Designworks, larger cabin windows (inspired by the PC-24) and fully reclining executive seats.
The engine is upgraded again, with the PT6 E-Series that has electronic propeller and engine control (thus a single power lever), while a fully integrated digital auto-throttle (an optional extra) can also be enabled.
The PT6E-67XP turboprop produces 1,825shp and is flat rated to 1,100shp in cruise – a 10% increase over the PC-12’s PT6A-67P.
The novel low-prop-speed mode reduces prop speed from 1,700rpm to 1,550rpm, lowering cabin noise but – thanks the electronic propeller and engine control system – very little degradation in performance.
The Honeywell avionics moves up a gear too, including a touchscreen controller, emergency descent mode, tactile roll feedback and protection, and a low-speed propeller quiet mode. Synthetic vision gives crews a high level of situational awareness at all times.
The Advanced Cockpit Environment (ACE) is based on a Honeywell Epic 2.0 avionics suite with a new touchscreen avionics controller, and the aircraft has a new emergency descent mode and tactile feedback to assist pilots in avoiding excessive bank angles.
The cockpit also has brighter, more vivid colour flight displays, pilot-defined visual approaches, high resolution 2D airport moving maps, night-mode charts, plus Honeywell’s SmartLanding and SmartRunway systems.
Furthermore, it has electronic checklists linked to crew alerting system messages, worldwide graphical weather, and support for the European controller-pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) mandates.
According to Pilatus, the company first flew the PC-12 NGX prototype in December 2017 before carrying out more than 600 hours of testing in Europe, USA and Canada. The aircraft then received EASA certification just before the NBAA show, on 14 October 2019.
Pilatus PC-12 NGX: Market Acceptance
The first three customers to sign up were Australian-born Dion Weisler, president and CEO of HP (upgrading from a PC-12 NG); Shon Boney, cofounder of Sprouts Farmers Markets (the first US customer, the aircraft will be his fourth PC-12); and João Carlos Marinho Lutz, who became the first Brazilian customer.
“As an existing, proud and active owner-pilot of a 2017 PC-12 NG, I am amazed by the substantial innovation improvements in what I thought was an impossible aircraft to improve on,” says Weisler. “I am thrilled to be customer number one for the new PC-12 NGX. Pilatus has done it again – reimagined aviation and taken an already perfect aircraft and magically redefined perfection.”
Lutz is currently flying a non-pressurised turboprop. He chose the new Pilatus aircraft, because “only the PC-12 NGX can reach farms in remote places where I need to go and amazing destinations in Brazil with comfort, speed and efficiency.”
During the unveiling last year, Pilatus Aircraft CEO Markus Bucher said, “To maintain the PC-12’s leadership in the General Aviation marketplace we continuously seek innovative solutions that benefit the safety, comfort and productivity of our customers.
“The PC-12 NGX is a showcase for the advanced technology collaboration between Pilatus, Pratt & Whitney Canada, and Honeywell. Together, we took the best, and made it even better.”
Pilatus PC-12 NGX: Passenger Comfort
In addition to the NGX’s cabin being enhanced with reshaped, larger windows that giving improved views and more natural light, the executive seats have been redesigned to provide more headroom, while fully reclining and offering improved lumbar support.
A choice of six interior design schemes (from BMW Designworks) is available with the executive version of the NGX, along with bespoke interiors and paint schemes for customers.
What Pilatus says is the most popular configuration with its customers has six large passenger seats, with the option of simply adding a seventh and eighth. All the interiors come with a private lavatory.
The cabin has a completely flat floor and the baggage area is accessible in flight and fully pressurised. If more cargo area is needed, seats can be removed as required and a cargo net installed. The cabin in equipped with an entertainment system that provides WiFi for all passenger devices.
Pilatus PC-12 NGX: Maintenance Intervals
On the maintenance side, the interval between scheduled checks has been extended to 600 flight hours. Pilatus estimates that hourly direct operating costs for the new version of the PC-12 have been reduced by more than 9% which also means it is more environmentally friendly, with CO2 emissions approximately 125g per km, per passenger (assuming eight passengers on board).
The Stans, Switzerland-based company, which has dealers offering support worldwide, is offering a new “nose-to-tail” maintenance program, based on the PC-24’s CrystalCare programme. This covers all scheduled and unscheduled maintenance for airframe, engine (and prop), avionics and systems – including all mandatory and recommended service bulletins, and an AOG (aircraft-on-ground) recovery service.
More information from www.pilatus-aircraft.com