For the third iteration of its venerable PC-12 single-engine turboprop (SETP), Swiss airframer Pilatus Aircraft unveiled a new variant that includes a complete redesign of the cabin, new avionics, and a new variant of the Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) PT6A powerplant found on the first two generations of the airplane, in addition to a single power lever. Pilatus introduced the PC-12-NGX at a ceremony at the National Business Aviation Association’s annual convention in Las Vegas.
Under development for more than three years, the NGX began flight testing in December 2017 and is expected to receive FAA and European Union Aviation Safety Agency certification in December. Deliveries of the $4.39 million airplane ($5.37 million for the executive configuration) are expected to begin in the second quarter of next year.
Pilatus officials hope the upgraded PC-12 NGX will continue the delivery trend of the first two generations of the SETP—the PC-12 and PC-12 NG, which combined account for 1,730 deliveries to date.
‘A Leap Forward’
Powering the NGX is the new P&WC PT6E-67XP, which features a dual-channel integrated electronic propeller- and engine-control system that provides full digital envelope protection, precise and intuitive engine control, reduced pilot workload, and optimized power.
Controlled by a single power lever, the PT6E-67XP produces 1,825-shp and is flat rated to 1,100 shp in cruise flight, a 10 percent increase from the PC-12’s PT6A-67P. It allows the NGX to reach a maximum cruise speed of 290 knots. The NGX will be certified to fly without fuel anti-ice additive.
In what Pilatus is calling a first for turboprops, the new engine will be able to operate in a low-prop-speed mode, reducing the prop speed from 1,700 rpm to 1,550 rpm and lowering cabin noise. According to Pilatus, even with the low prop speed, the electronic propeller and engine control system will maintain engine power at “virtually negligible performance degradations.”
Additionally, the new engine will have a 5,000 hour time-between-overhaul period with hot section inspections only required on-condition and be able to transmit data on more than 100 engine parameters that are continuously monitored, adjusted, and recorded. “Building on the legacy of the PT6 family, the new engine is a leap forward in engine control and data management systems,” said P&WC president Maria Della Posta.
On the flight deck, PC-12 NGX pilots will find what Pilatus is calling an Advanced Cockpit Environment (ACE) with Honeywell Epic 2.0 avionics and a new touchscreen avionics controller with integrated bezel contour grips intended to stabilize the pilot’s hand in turbulence. ACE’s standard safety features are a new emergency descent mode and tactile feedback aimed at helping pilots avoid unintentional excessive bank angles.
An option in the NGX cockpit is a fully integrated digital autothrottle. Other NGX flight deck features include brighter, more vivid color flight displays; night-mode charts; pilot-defined visual approaches; high resolution 2D airport moving maps; Honeywell’s SmartLanding and SmartRunway awareness systems; 3D intelligent audio with ATC playback and Bluetooth interface; electronic checklists linked to crew alerting system (CAS) messages; worldwide graphical weather; support for European protected mode-controller pilot data link communications (PM-CPDLC) mandates; and faster database loading.
Among the NGX’s cabin refinements are windows that have been reshaped and enlarged 10 percent, offering passengers an improved outside view while providing additional natural light inside the cabin. The airplane’s rectangular-shaped windows and dark windshield surround trim were influenced by the PC-24 twinjet, according to Pilatus.
Pilatus also redesigned the executive seats for the NGX to offer more headroom, as well as fully recline and improve lumbar support. New quick-release attachments on the seats enable the pilots to quickly reconfigure seating on the NGX without the help of maintenance crews.
Also modified for the NGX cabin was the headliner, which provides indirect lighting, more uniform and quiet air distribution, and increased headroom. Rounding out new passenger amenities on the NGX are dual cupholders and integrated sidewall USB ports.
Six different interiors—designed by BMW Group’s Designworks—are offered with the executive NGX, as are bespoke interiors and paint schemes.
Other attributes of the NGX are its scheduled maintenance intervals, which have been extended to 600 flight hours. Hourly direct operating costs for the engine and aircraft have also been reduced by at least 9 percent, Pilatus added. A new nose-to-tail maintenance program, modeled after the PC-24’s CrystalCare program, will provide all scheduled and unscheduled maintenance of the airframe, engine, avionics, systems, and propeller, including all mandatory and recommended service bulletins, freight, consumables, normal wear items, and AOG recovery service.