With Pilatus Aircraft on the verge of clinching certification of the PC-24 light jet, the Swiss-based manufacturer is so confident of completing the final few hours of testing on schedule that it has trundled the second prototype into the show floor here at NBAA.

“We are at the very end of the development program, and this week we have the last review by EASA. From there on in we are into the final phase of certification,” says Pilatus CEO Markus Bucher. “We always said we would certify the PC-24 in 2017, and obviously, depending on the good will and hard work of EASA – supported by the FAA – we will achieve that goal this year.”

The first of 84 aircraft on firm order is also undergoing systems integration work in the company’s Stans facility in Switzerland, from where it will be delivered by year-end to Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based fractional provider PlaneSense. “A hell of a lot has been achieved over the past two years,” says Bucher, who adds that certification and initial deliveries will begin after completion of a six-week, 150-flight hours, functional and reliability program to be flown by the third prototype, P03.

“We have achieved more than 2,000 flight hours, and there are just a couple hundred to go,” says Bucher. The first prototype, P01, which has completed almost 900 flight hours over 626 flights, is already being used for post-certification work such as development of new customer options including new in-flight entertainment systems.

In the meantime, Pilatus is still keeping the order book closed while preparations continue to ramp up PC-24 production through the end of this year and 2018. “We want to make sure we can start delivery of customer aircraft before we reopen the order book. You will hear from us in 2018 when that will happen,” says Bucher.