3:26 PM

E is for Ecstasy.

All right, cue the soft Luther Vandross music, dim the lights, light a few candles, because baby, I am in luuuuuuuv...

Flying somewhat under the radar has been the serious upgrade that Pilatus is busy certifying for their venerable PC-12, the airplane that seems to do it all. This new version will be called the “E” model, and features the most beautiful panel every flown. (imho)

The new cockpit environment has been designed by BMW Group Designworks USA and if the sheer sex appeal of this panel doesn't make you sweat, maybe this will:

The Next Generation PC-12 will feature state-of-the-art Honeywell Primus Apex avionics, with four large displays – including two PFDs and two MFDs – providing an unprecedented amount of viewing area and integrate flight information, engine monitoring, aircraft configuration, pressurization, and environmental controls. Flight and weather data, charts, aircraft system information, and trip planning functions are all within easy reach, while a new sets a new standard for ergonomics and aesthetics.
But wait that's not all. Even though the PC-12 already had the power to lift off from just about any patch, the Swiss watch of aviation will get this upgrade under the cowling:
Higher performance comes from the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67P, which delivers 15 % more thermodynamic power for faster climbs and higher cruise speeds by utilizing single crystal CT blades and a new compressor configuration.
Other improvements include a new advanced digital dual-zone Environmental Control System for increased cockpit and cabin comfort, a fully automatic digital Cabin Pressurization Control System which requires no input from the pilot, and a fully redundant Power Generation and Distribution System.

I will always remember the first time I laid eyes on a PC-12 in flight. I was driving home along Belmont Avenue east of Fresno, CA. When I saw a -12 low and slow, flaps down, crossing overhead south to north. I was near the Harris Ranch race horse ranch, and I had watched Harris' pilots drop his Cessna 210 into a very short one-way strip on the ranch. Laid out on about a 34/12 heading, there are tall trees blocking the approach end to 34, so all landings must be made usually downwind to RWY 12.
So I pulled over and sure enough, the Pilatus was inbound to Harris' place all right...there he was on short final, slow and dirty. At first, I was blown away that such a large plane would be attempting to land downwind on what is really just a tight little cropduster strip, no wider then about three rows of orange trees. As the –12 crossed the point where the numbers would be at the far end, there didn't seem to be ten feet of space on either end of the Pilatus' 53-foot wingspan. But Harris' pilot had the PC-12 down and slowed to a gentle taxi easily at the midway point.
I spoke with one of the top Pilatus Dealers in the country, and found out the PC-12 is still a very popular aircraft to sell. If you drop a dime today on your order for the sexy “E” model, they “might” be able to get you into the left seat of that sleek BMW-engineered cockpit in Fall, 2008 after the aircraft is certified near the end of 2007.

Sign me up.

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