The new Pilatus PC-24 business jet weighs only 5 tons due to components made of carbon and glass fiber. The jet is built to be able to take off and land on short, grassy runways.
Never before has a jet been capable of landing on short, unpaved grass and gravel runways, but the Pilatus PC-24 is changing that. The SVJ (Super Versatile Jet) can take off after just 890 meters and requires only 720 meters for landing, thanks to its base weight of only 5.3 tons. Carbon fiber and glass fiber components, cut with the automated Zünd digital cutting system, helped significantly lightweight the jet.
Pilatus began using carbon fiber parts on its PC-6 aircraft many years ago, and the new PC-24 uses composites for both interior and exterior components. The engine casings and wingtips, landing gear doors, air ducts, various pipes, covers, and trailing edges on the wing are made of carbon fiber.
It all begins with prepreg. Pilatus processes about 90,000 m2 per year and more than half of all carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) and glass fiber reinforced polymer (GFRP) components produced in the company’s plastics department are installed in the new PC-24. As demand for these advanced materials increased, Pilatus decided to add a state-of-the-art Zünd G3 L-2500 system in 2019. The G3 system single-ply cuts materials for the respective components in a largely automated process and labels cut pieces with an integrated inkjet module. Pilatus management believes in a permanent reduction of costs, productivity optimization, and the ability to implement modern production technologies, and this process allows them to achieve those goals.
At this point, Pilatus does not build load-bearing parts of carbon fiber reinforced polymers, but researchers are looking into this option for future aircraft.