Mikhail Alenkin, the owner of Pilatus dealer Nesterov Aviation in Russia, is impressed with the performance of the Pilatus PC-24 and believes the aircraft will emulate the success of its ‘brother’ the PC-12. “I was positively surprised to find that, once inside the cabin, it feels much more spacious than from the outside,” he explains. “I thought it was quieter than other jets. Its light and contemporary interior reflects that it is a brand new product. I was completely blown away by the short take-off distance, and once you’re used to flying on business jets you expect an aircraft to accelerate for another moment or so, but on the PC-24 you are already airborne.
“Landing distance is another advantage, as the aircraft practically stops once it touches the runway. Just recently during the MAKS air show, I spoke with one of the aircraft’s operators, who sees the PC-24 as suitable for charter services specifically in Russia as it will comply with our Russian clientele’s requests. On the other hand, obviously, it is ideal for private use, especially if the owner is a pilot.
“The aircraft is very simple, elegantly intuitive to pilot and you get real pleasure out of flying it. A huge advantage is that it is certified for single pilot operation. We often compare Pilatus aircraft with Swiss army knives, and we couldn’t be more accurate as the PC-24 can be easily transformed into medevac, for special missions that require short runways or for unpaved runways.”
According to Alenkin, the Russian mentality is to go for aircraft that are big and expensive. But cost-effectiveness may also play an important role: “I see the competitors to the PC-24 as being not the new aircraft, but pre-owned heavy jets, as well as light jets such as the Phenom 300, CJ4 and LR75, plus midsize types such as the Legacy 500, and Latitude. The main sales pitch: the PC-24 is a state-of-the-art aircraft and all the technologies applied are the most cutting-edge. These are reliable, high quality aircraft that retain their residual value and all characteristics even after being in operation a long time. Another sales pitch might be its speed and flight range, which covers all main destinations to Europe and across Russia even with maximum payload, such as Moscow to London, Moscow to Novosibirsk, Moscow to Nice and Moscow to Olbia.”
Nesterov Aviation is currently working to obtain Russian type certification, and is aiming to finalise this by the end of the year. It is also expanding its service centre for the needs of PC-24 customers, by ordering necessary equipment, tools and spare parts. The bulk of the demand for the new type seems to be stemming from existing PC-12 owners. “By limiting production, Pilatus maintains the price of these aircraft,” says Alenkin. “They do not try to run after demand or get ahead of demand, they see potential demand and produce slightly less in order not to oversaturate the market with aircraft. The aircraft is designed to fly up to almost five hours, and this is the maximum range. We are now flying in an aircraft with six-seat configuration and all of them are occupied, but none of the passengers feel constrained. We are currently flying a little over an hour, but still you’ve been able to get an idea of the level of comfort.
“The main advantage is not about the quality of a runway – and the PC-24 can land on unpaved if needed – but about the runway’s length. This jet, unlike other similar aircraft, can land in almost all the airports of the world including St Tropez, Gstaad, Lausanne, which has a very short runway.
“Judging by how conservative the Swiss and Pilatus are, until the PC-24 is immaculate in every way and until it becomes a bestseller, there will be no talks about building another model. There is such a homely atmosphere at the Pilatus headquarters, and when building new types of aircraft, the teams focus on the plant’s capabilities and options that their location allows as the airport is in a crevice between the mountains. I think it is unlikely that within 10 years we will see a completely new aircraft – although Pilatus is constantly updating existing types.”