Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. in early February announced it has obtained rough field certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its PC-24 aircraft to operate on wet and snow-covered unpaved runways, as well as for steep approaches. The new certifications fit with the company’s branding of the recently introduced PC-24 as the Super Versatile Jet, which is able to access nearly twice as many airports as competing business jets models. (Video source: Pilatus/YouTube)
‟I’m delighted to note the successful completion of these comprehensive tests. Our PC-24 has proven that it is capable of flying the full range of missions for which it was developed,” said Oscar Schwenk, chairman, Pilatus. “The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia and operators in North America or Africa already use rough field runways on a regular basis, proving just how unique the PC-24 is.”
After the aircraft itself received EASA and FAA type certifications in December 2017, Pilatus then achieved approval for PC-24 operations on dry sand and gravel in 2018. The Swiss airplane maker then began a test campaign to certify the PC-24 for operation in differing conditions on unpaved runways. This 2019 campaign, in which pilots performed more than 150 landings, included testing on unpaved runways in Switzerland, Great Britain, Italy and the Canadian north. Transport Canada granted the PC-24 type certification in June 2019.
The runway in Goodwood, England, was first used for early tests on dry grass, followed by similar campaigns at Kunovice in Czech Republic, at Poitiers in France, and at Duxford, England. At Woodbridge, England, conditions were reproduced in part in order to meet test specifications for take-offs and landings on wet dirt surfaces. The PC-24 in 2019 was then flown on snow-covered gravel runways at Kuujjuaq in Canada.
A former Hudson’s Bay Company outpost located at the mouth of the Koksoak River on Ungava Bay, Kuujjuaq is described as the largest northern village in the Nunavik region of Quebec and now serves as the administrative capital of the Kativik Regional Government.
Kuujjuaq was founded as Fort Good Hope in 1830, according to the Manitoba Archives, but in 1831 its named was changed to Fort Chimo, an anglicization of the Inuit word saimuuq, meaning “Let’s shake hands”. The Manitoba Archives notes this was a common greeting that locals used with the Hudson Bay Company fur traders. In 1980, the fort’s name was changed to Kuujjuaq, which is the Inuit name for the Koksoak River.
Kuujjuaq Airport, YVP, is owned by Transport Canada and operated by the Kativik government, serving as a primary transport hub to Canada’s north through Montreal. With a population of around 3,000 people, the airport is described as the community’s only reliable year-round means of transportation. YVP holds two runways, including one with a 6,000-foot (1,829-metre) asphalt and one with a 5,000-foot (1,524-metre) gravel surface.
Pilatus explains the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) requires tests for rough-field certification of take-off and landing capability to be carried out on different runways, which resulted in the company conducting tests at these various locations across America and Europe.