Pilatus delivers PC-12 NGX to first customers

The Swiss manufacturer handed over the first production examples of its new turboprop to customers in the USA and Europe in late May.

As the PC-12 approaches its 30th birthday, Pilatus delivered the first two of what they call their advanced turboprop business aircraft, the PC-12 NGX. One aircraft was delivered to HP Inc. director and former CEO Don Weisler, while the other went to a German owner-pilot upgrading from a popular light business jet.

Mr Weisler upgraded from the previous NG variant, and said of the NGX: “I really loved my NG, but the NGX takes the PC-12 to an entirely new level.”

That new level comes courtesy mainly of the new power plant; a PT-6E 67XP, the latest offering from Pratt and Whitney Canada which adds a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) and their patented Electronic Propeller and Engine Control System (EPECS) that allows single-button autostart, single power-lever control, auto throttle and digital propeller speed management, vastly reducing the likelihood of an engine parameter exceedance. Pratt and Whitney Canada have also doubled the maintenance interval to 600 hours and extended the Time Between Overhaul (TBO) to 5000 hours from 3500, which they say will reduce line maintenance tasks by up to 40%. The new engine technology also features a Propeller Low Speed mode, reducing the propeller speed from 1,700 to 1,550 revolutions per minute – dramatically reducing cabin noise levels.

Pilatus have also provided a five knot increase in maximum cruise airspeed to 290knots TAS, achieved through refinements in the airframe design. And while not contributing towards performance, the PC-12 NGX features an all-new passenger cabin inspired by Pilatus’ PC-24 Super Versatile Jet. All-new seats, larger windows, indirect LED lighting and a new air distribution system all contribute to a more modern, refined, comfortable passenger experience.

Pilots meanwhile, will appreciate the latest iteration of Honeywell’s Rockwell Collins Primus Apex avionics suite, which includes a synthetic vision system that utilises a flight-path marker similar to that found on a Heads Up Display (HUD), as well as Traffic Collision Avoidance System and further options that include satellite phone and onboard WiFi.

Of course, the primary appeal of the PC-12NGX is likely to continue to be the type’s well-established ability to operate reliably and comfortably in and out of the most austere of unprepared operating sites. It has long been the preferred aircraft of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Royal Flying Doctors Service of Australia for precisely that reason. Now with reduced workload for both pilots and maintainers, it is likely to remain as popular as ever.

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