5 ‘off-road’ private aircraft for remote landings
There are many attributes of Pilatus’ aircraft that make them attention-grabbing. Both the original PC-12 turboprop and the new PC-24 jet (which is now available for charter) are spacious and stylish. And while most clients don’t need to land in remote areas, another thing that sets Pilatus aircraft apart is their robust landing ability.
Unpaved runway landings (such as on grass or gravel) are specialised operations, both for aircraft and crew. But offer huge connectivity benefits – opening up twice as many airports than established small private jets (which themselves can land on shorter and more remote runways than airline flights) and offering important access to remote areas for medevac and other evacuation flights.
We take a closer look at the Pilatus PC-24 and other aircraft that can reach more remote spots.
1) The Pilatus PC-24
The PC-24 made a big impact when it launched five years ago, with its first production run of 84 aircraft sold out within hours. And since obtaining certification at the end of 2017, it is becoming more available – with the first on-demand charter aircraft now available in Europe.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia have now started using the PC-24 for their medevac missions, using short and unpaved runways – illustrating the exciting potential this durable aircraft has for medical and humanitarian flights.
But it’s not just a durable workhorse. Fast, stylish and spacious, the 6-seater PC-24 is set to be very popular for business and leisure private charter too, as availability increases.
As the world’s first business jet designed for unmade runways, it opens up more jet routes than ever before. Its large cargo door is also a first for a business jet (and a major marketing differentiator, which Pilatus is using to position itself against rival aircraft, including the successful Embraer Phenom 300.)
2) The Pilatus PC-12
One of the reasons for the PC-24’s success, is the reputation of its turboprop hangarmate, the Pilatus PC-12.
Key to the appeal of the rugged and reliable PC-12 has been its STOL (short take off and landing) ability. The aircraft is certified in twenty countries and for single pilot commercial Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operation. It can also operate from short fields, grass and gravel strips.
And as a single-engine turboprop, the 9-seater Pilatus PC-12 is a more cost-effective option than rival twin-engine turboprops and small jets.
3) The BN-2 Islander
The very recognisable BN-2 (Britten-Norman) Islander is one of the world’s most successful commercial aircraft, with over 750 in operation thoughout the world.
Adaptable, versatile and durable, it has an unsurpassed reputation for opening up air travel to some of the world’s most remote locations.
The airborne equivalent of a Land Rover, the BN-2 Islander can land on a wider variety of surfaces including grass and even shallow water. It’s one of the aircraft that can land at Barra’s famous beach runway, in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides and is popular and widely-available as an island-hopping aircraft in the Caribbean.
4) The Cessna 208 Grand Caravan
The Cessna Grand Caravan was designed to land nearly anywhere, on land or water – with the Amphibious version also a popular seaplane.
Grand Caravans have large fuel tanks and tough, sturdy landing gear, giving excellent reliability on rough, unpaved airstrips.
The aircraft carries between 9 and 13 passengers and is a cost-effective charter option, with excellent availability in many parts of the world, including Africa and the Caribbean.
For the ultimate in flexible landing options, why not skip the runway altogether?
While offering less range and arguably less comfort than a fixed wing aircraft, there’s no denying a helicopter’s flexibility – offering point-to-point air travel, on a huge variety of routes.
Whether that’s as a final transfer after a fixed wing flight, to reach particularly tucked away destinations (such as tiny islands with no airports or ski resorts). Or in more built up areas, to save time and avoid traffic jams on busy roads – popular during summer events and peak holiday season.