The first Pilatus PC-24 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service has made its first flight.
The aircraft’s Swiss manufacturer released these images of the first of three PC-24s on order for the RFDS’s Western Section in flight ahead of last week’s EBACE – European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition – trade show at Geneva.
In the images the Swiss alps provide a dramatic and starkly different backdrop to the remote and regional WA countryside that will soon be the aircraft’s home territory.
The Perth-based RDFS Western Section has three PC-24s on order, while a further example is on order for the Adelaide-based Central Section.
VIDEO – Pilatus Aircraft video of the first flight of the first RFDS PC-24.
“The PC-24 jet aircraft is revolutionising aero medicine for the RFDS, ensuring better outcomes for people in WA,” the RFDS notes on its website.
“The PC-24 jet aircraft will deliver increased fuel efficiency and, with twice the cruising speed of the PC-12, will improve both operational and patient outcomes.”
Pilatus has so far delivered five customer PC-24s, with the first delivery, to US-based fractional ownership operator PlaneSense, taking place in early February. That aircraft has now flown over 300 hours, Pilatus says.
The first RFDS delivery will be one of 23 PC-24 planned in 2018.
“We are now receiving initial feedback from our customers, and we are pleased to report it is extremely positive,” Pilatus chairman Oscar Schwenk said.
“The PC-24 has potential, technical and otherwise, and I can guarantee that we will make our ‘darling’ even better yet.”
While PC-24 deliveries are ramping up, Pilatus is continuing post-certification flight tests, with a particular focus on steep approaches and landings and operations from unmade runways.
The company says it will also soon reopen its order book for its ‘Super Versatile Jet’.
“We intend to re-open the PC-24 order book in the near future, as soon as we are absolutely certain that everything is going as expected.”
Great machine. Hopefully it does really well.
That Ron guysays:
Glad to see it coming to Australia. The range & speed of the aircraft will be a great boost to the RFDS.
Will be a great addition to the Western Australia Fleet.
If only some of those snow covered mountains could be transplanted to Western Australiia with the aircraft.
Spoke to some of the WA guys at Jandakot last year & they are looking forward to this very much!
Such a short time ago that the thought of a jet that could use unpaved runways was ludicrous. To have a twin jet that can do this and use 1000m runways with ease really meant that it was the only option for RFDS. Having said that, it’s a remarkable aircraft and I’m sure will provide sterling service.
Neil P Patruccosays:
As a former employee in the Operations area of RFDS Jandakot and experience with the then aircraft of C421’s, Piper Navajo’s and the subsequent introduction of the Pilatus family, I am intrigued by the quality of this PC24. There must be a reason for this aircraft to be selected for future RFDS operations. WA and SA have very remote airstrips and some which have STOF and Landing distances. These runways are mainly dirt strips with no NAVAIDS except the occasional NDB, and for a Jet Aircraft to have the capability of utilizing them in medical emergencies is unique. There is also a need to land on outback roads to evacuate patients. I do hope that this has been tested. Although with the fleet of PC12’s they are still available for that operation. I was somewhat concerned when RFDS purchased the single engine PC12 that flying single engine IFR would be detrimental to operations . However when considering their gliding capability and the engines design there has been no indication that an engine failure under IFR conditions has occurred. RFDS technicians and engineers are very experienced with these types of Aircraft and most are either ex Air Force or from various Police Air Wings or within Pilatus. There is still a consideration of the capability of the PC24’s endurance. With return distances in excess of the model, there is a need to re-examine their endurance and the all up weight, which includes equipment, patients, and crew. This aircraft has evidently been selected as a flying operating theatre and neonatal facility. With the type of equipment required for all emergencies, nothing should be left to the imagination. RFDS has waited patiently for jets to be included in their stable. In closing RIO-Tinto should be included in this success story as they are one of the major sponsors of this wonderful Australian entity. I congratulate all of those past and present who had an input into the decision to purchase a jet fleet. Congratulations to Pilatus for the continued support of RFDS operations.