The Swiss company Pilatus has unveiled a new and rather versatile jet that does not require conventional long paved runways. Reports say their PC-24 will have a maximum cruising speed of 489mph, a top range of nearly 2,000 miles, and able to carry 6 to 8 passengers. A special feature is a very large cargo door, and the plane will be able to use dirt runways thanks to the high positioning of its twin jets well clear of any debris thrown up from below. Take-off will require less than 3,000 feet, and landing only 2,500 feet. It ought to be popular as a business jet because of its ability to use shorter conventional runways than its rival, and it might see use as an air ambulance, given its big cargo door and its ability to land in rough places.
Small jets are becoming quite fun, with new models in the ‘very light jet’ category coming out every year, and with the kind of versatility the PC24 incorporates. I have taken off from grass runways, including a flight from Duxford in a de havilland Rapide, a 1930s twin-engine biplane. You can still book pleasure flights in one. The take-off is bumpier from grass than it is from concrete, but it’s quite fun, as the new jet promises to be. I’ll certainly take a trip in one if the opportunity presents itself.
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