Media accounts following Pilatus’ May 2014 opening of the PC-24 order book called the event “almost unbelievable.” They were specifically referring to the company having sold out the first three years’ production of the new Super Versatile Jet. Better yet, Pilatus embarked upon what is believed to be an industry first as they also posted, on two screens prominently displayed in the booth, the names of the buyers. It takes a healthy dose of confidence in how well your product is differentiated in the market place to publicly inform would-be competitors who your customers are…especially when the product is not going to deliver for three years.
So calling the event “almost unbelievable” would be accurate on all accounts – unless you know what we know about the airplane. As the oldest Pilatus Dealer in the world we can tell you that we got a similar reaction when we started selling large numbers of large, single-engine PC-12s. Over time the “that’s unbelievable” response became “why would anyone buy anything else”? And it was never really about the performance of the PC-12, as the numbers – 280 knots, 1,700 Nautical Miles, full-fuel payload of 1200 pounds – speak for themselves. All it took was a few demo units to show up on the ramp, at which time we got some variation of the same comment virtually every time: “Geez, I didn’t realize it was that big.”
Of course, it helps that the PC-24 order book is secured by signed contracts and non-refundable deposits. Big deposits. We know, because five of the new PC-24s are headed to Skytech… and, one-by-one, eventually on to our customers. Not that Pilatus required contracts or deposits to move forward. The company published a profit of $200m USD last year, and that was after accounting for a $97m investment in Product Development. Their current order backlog, including several large orders for military trainers, stands at well over $1.2 Billion USD.
So here we go again. The numbers, most especially an $8.9m price tag, will speak for themselves. But you are likely to walk away from your first impression of the PC-24 wondering how an airplane that big and that heavy operates on those runways at that price. We’ll be happy to explain it to you anytime.