Wing design is one reason the Swiss-built Pilatus PC-12 is so flexible and efficient. Its advanced high aspect ratio and long span fowler flaps make the aircraft uniquely versatile, allowing it to safely maintain approach speeds slow enough to land and take off from runways as short as 2,500 feet, while also enabling it to maintain high speeds and descend rapidly in the midst of commercial airliner traffic at the busiest of airports. As a result, flying with the PC-12 in the PlaneSense fractional program, versus similarly sized jets, gives you access to four times as many airports in the U.S.
“Flaps” are added devices that help the wing function at low speeds. They are hinged devices located at the back of the wing. When extended, the flaps change a wing’s shape by increasing its camber, improving lift and drag dynamics at slower speeds. An electric motor extends the flaps from the position of 0 degrees up to the full extension of 40 degrees. After takeoff, the flaps are retracted fully to reduce drag and maximize cruise performance.
“Aspect ratio” is the relationship between the wing’s length and width. “High aspect ratio” means the length is significantly larger than the width, which tends to allow for higher cruise speeds. The PC-12 wing’s high aspect tapered design, plus large flaps, balances high-speed cruise with generous slow-speed lift, enabling significant flexibility and utility when choosing airports. By comparison, swept back wings commonly used on jets allow for higher cruise speeds but do not generate sufficient lift at slower speeds, thus requiring longer runways.