pilatus-pc-12-review

Single Engine Economy with Jet Speeds

Single engine corporate and air taxi aircraft were unheard of thirty years ago. Engines were reliable, but not considered as powerful and dependable as today’s power plants. Airlines were not allowed to carry passengers across oceans with an aircraft that had less than three engines and most flew their international flight with four. It was a multi-engine world.

Single engine aircraft have come to the forefront of the air taxi and corporate travel world of today. A combination of increased safety, more speed and the fact that jet fuel is pushing seven dollars a gallon has led to the successful use of singles for high speed and economical travel.

The Pilatus PC-12 fits right into the same niche as more expensive to operate twin engine aircraft like the King Air and is actually bigger in size. The PC-12 is a true cabin class aircraft containing all the same amenities as multi-engine aircraft – including a lavatory, entertainment options that include a moving map for passengers and lots of leg and head room.

The PC-12 operates at the same altitudes to take advantage of overflying weather and getting up into the good tail winds as other turbine twins and cruises as the same speeds – for half the fuel burn and fuel cost.

Single Engine Safety — With the prop feathered, a PC-12 can glide 80 mi–about half an hour–from 30,000 ft.

It is true that a twin engine aircraft can fly you much further after the loss of an engine than any single engine aircraft, but there are other considerations than number of motors. For example, single engine aircraft are certificated with a much lower stall speed than their twin engined counterparts. An engine out, off airport landing with the PC-12 can be done at a speed of around 70kts. An off-airport landing in a King Air would be at a speed of around 95 knots.

Off-airport landings, while remotely possible, are almost extinct for aircraft using turbine power and especially aircraft like the PC-12 that use the venerable and amazingly reliable Pratt and Whitney PT6a engine. Statistically, more people die after losing an engine in a twin than by losing the only engine in a single.

The Airplane

The Pilatus PC-12 is a tough bird with amazing capabilities. There aren’t many other single engine owner-flown aircraft that can carry the entire family along with their toys to remote areas. The PC-12 sports a barn-like cargo door that can accommodate the largest of people and pets or even the family motorcycle, snowmobile or Jet Ski.

With a maximum range of over fifteen hundred nautical miles with adequate reserve fuel, the PC-12 can carry passengers or cargo over very long distances and with its cruise speed of 280 knots, it can fight most heavy headwinds and still get you where you are going, non-stop, in a timely manner. Miami to New York in the winter time is no problem for this aircraft.

Long trips like that require a roomy cabin so the passengers don’t go stir-crazy. The passenger cabin is five feet wide and seventeen feet long with more than four feet of head room. The PC-12 certainly has more range than many people’s bladders, so the private lavatory found in the back of the passenger cabin truly is a “necessary room.”

Here is link to a size comparator provided by Pilatus that puts the PC-12 up against it competitors:

http://www.pilatus-aircraft.com

The aircraft is huge if you judge it by comparing it to other single engine birds, but it seems to be just the right size if you are a passenger.

The Flight Deck

The PC-12 is designed to be easy to fly and it was designed with owner/operators in mind. Many low-time private owners fly this aircraft after taking a full systems school. Some are beginning private pilots with no instrument rating. The aircraft can fulfill the mission from VFR pleasure barge to serious heavy-weather executive transport.

The PC-12 NG utilizes a state-of-the-art Honeywell Primus Apex avionics system.

The instrument panel features four large displays that include two Primary Flight Displays (PFDs) and two Multi Function Displays (MFDs). These screens provide an amazing amount of viewing area and integrate flight information. Engine monitoring, aircraft configuration, pressurization, and environmental controls are all within easy view of the pilot.

SmartView, ® is a proven synthetic vision system. The instrument panel that used to show pilots round dials and an electro-mechanical world of symbols and needles now shows an actual display of what is outside the windows The view pilots see in the PC-12 cockpit increases safety and situational awareness. It displays a natural 3D rendering of terrain, providing a view that pilots normally see only on a clear day.

Flight and weather data, charts, aircraft system information, and trip planning functions are all within easy reach, while a new cockpit environment designed by BMW Group Designworks USA has set the bar very high for competitors. It should be noted here that sometimes the most modern idea isn’t the best idea in terms of design and safety. For example, Pilatus decided on the traditional “flip” type of switches for its cockpits instead of the more modern push button type. With flip switches the pilot can tell if it is on or off by feel.

The Pilatus PC-12 is an efficient and fast way of travel for air taxi and corporate flight over land. It has a wide range of capabilities and performance. Single engine travel is most likely the wave of the future for the upcoming green and fuel aware world.

Features

  • Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67P engine, flat-rated at 1,200 SHP
  • 330 cubic foot pressurized passenger cabin with seating for up to 9 passengers
  • Maximum range of 1,560 nautical miles with 3 passengers, high speed cruise, NBAA IFR fuel reserve
  • 280 knot (322 mph) maximum cruise speed
  • High-lift wing for exceptional short-field performance
  • Standard forward passenger door and large (53 in X 52 in) aft cargo door
  • Retractable trailing-link landing gear capable of grass and unimproved field operation
  • Certification for flight into known icing conditions
  • State-of-the-art Honeywell Primus Apex avionics
  • Single-pilot certification

Performance

Max cruise speed 280 ktas (322 mph) 519 km/hr TAS
Max range (3 Pax, 30,000 ft, NBAA IFR reserve) 1,560 nm / 1,795 sm 2,889 km
Max operating altitude 30,000 ft 9,144 m
Cabin altitude at 26,000 ft 8,000 ft 2,438 m
Takeoff distance over 50 ft obstacle 2,650 ft 808 m
Rate of climb (MTOW) 1,920 ft / min 585 m / min
Landing distance over 50 ft obstacle (MLW/reverse) 1,830 ft 558 m
Stall (MTOW) 67 kts IAS 124 km/h IAS

 

Weights

Max ramp weight 10,495 lbs 4,760 kg
Max takeoff weight 10,450 lbs 4,740 kg
Max landing weight 9,921 lbs 4,500 kg
Max zero fuel weight 9,039 lbs 4,100 kg
Basic operating weight (includes 200 lb / 91 kg pilot) 6,782 lbs 3,076 kg
Usable fuel (402 gal) 2,704 lbs 1,226 kg
Payload with full fuel (and 200 lb / 91 kg pilot) 1,009 lbs 458 kg

 

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