Fractional ownership operator PlaneSense announced on Feb. 8 the delivery of the first Pilatus PC-24 twinjet. The airplane’s first customer flights will begin in March, said PlaneSense President and CEO George Antoniadis.
In addition to its position as the launch customer, PlaneSense has orders for five more PC-24s to be delivered by the end of 2019. Antoniadis said the company “will be acquiring more after Pilatus’ order book reopens.”
PlaneSense PC-24s will be outfitted with an eight-seat interior, with forward club seating and four forward-facing aft seats. Antoniadis noted that PlaneSense participated in design and operational input during the PC-24’s gestation phase, and that PlaneSense’s PC-24 interior arrangement “means that all seats have plenty of room to recline.” In a common, double-club seating plan the seats that are back-to-back have limited space for reclining.
The aircraft is certified for single-pilot operations, but PlaneSense will operate them as two-crew flights. The twinjet has a forward airstair door and a large aft door similar to that of Pilatus’ PC-12 series of single-engine turboprops. Pilatus calls the PC-24 an “SVJ”—super versatile jet—because of its 2,800-foot balanced field length. Certification tests allowing operations out of unimproved strips are underway.
PlaneSense has been operating a fleet of 36 PC-12s, beginning with its first purchase 23 years ago, when the company was founded. Over the years, the firm purchased a total of 62 PC-12s and PC-12NGs (airplanes are retired on a cyclical basis); its sixty-third PC-12 will soon be delivered.
In addition to the PC-12 and PC-12NG, the fractional ownership operator's fleet includes four Nextant 400XTi twinjets.
“The PC-24 will give us a larger list of airports we can use, namely those with 3,000-foot runways,” said Antoniadis. “This means many thousands more runways.” He said that in the coming weeks two Pilatus test pilots will fly with PlaneSense crews to evaluate various airports before putting the airplane in service. So far, four of the firm’s pilots have completed PC-24 type ratings at FlightSafety International, with 11 more set to finish up by the end of March.