Aircraft manufacturer Pilatus’ staff were among the first to witness the maiden flight of the PC-24 Super Versatile Jet from Buochs airport in Switzerland on 11 May 2015. At 10.00 local time, the 1,800 staff, all of whom have been directly or indirectly involved in the PC-24 project, applauded the business jet as it taxied for takeoff. It took off from runway 07 in just under 600m and climbed to 10,000ft (3,000m) in around three minutes, The flight, during which the two pilots completed a series of tests, went exactly to plan as Prototype P01, call sign HB-VXA, flew across central Switzerland from Altdorf to Brünig via Engelberg, for a total of 55 minutes.
Test pilot Paul Mulcahy, who has some 11,000 hours under his belt, flew the PC-24 as pilot in command. He has already test flown countless aircraft types and has acquired a wealth of experience on twin-engine business jets.
During the flight the second pilot, Reto Aeschlimann, reported by radio from the cockpit: “Everything looks great so far! Beautiful handling – the PC-24 flies just as expected – a real Pilatus aircraft!”
Throughout the flight the PC-24 was accompanied and monitored by a PC-21. As is normal on maiden flights, the PC-24 landing gear was not retracted. Twelve flight test engineers watched the flight from the ground as they kept an eye on a stream of real-time flight data received from the aircraft. In recent months, the PC-24 handling characteristics had been trialled and refined during numerous tests using simulators and models placed in a wind tunnel. As part of the development team, the two pilots were involved in these tests; their role during the maiden flight was to verify the accuracy of the theoretical assumptions.
“It’s an emotional moment for sure, and another major milestone in the Pilatus and Swiss aviation history,” says Oscar J Schwenk, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Seeing our new business jet take off on its maiden flight is something we’ve worked very hard for, and dreamed about for a long time.“
The onlookers burst into another round of applause on the aircraft’s return, as the wheels of the PC-24 gently came into contact with the tarmac, and Paul Mulcahy earned more applause as he left the cockpit.