On Sunday Cessna performed the SkyCourier first flight, its newest aircraft. The high-wing twin-engine turboprop was designed to fill a new niche in the regional and utility segment, offering good capacity with the same versatility as the single-engine Caravan.
The Cessna SkyCourier took off from the company’s plant in Beech Field Airport, piloted by Corey Eckhart, senior test pilot, and Aaron Tobias, chief test pilot. During the 2-hour and 15-minute flight, the team tested the aircraft’s performance, stability and control, as well as its propulsion, environmental, flight controls and avionics systems.
“Today was an exciting day for our employees, our suppliers and our customers. The Cessna SkyCourier performed exactly as we expected, which is a testament to the entire team of men and women who worked together to prepare for this day,” said Ron Draper, president and CEO, Textron Aviation.
The SkyCourier development program will also include five other planes for flight and ground tests. The turboprop is equipped with two PT6A-65SC engines, known for their reliability and low operating cost. The aircraft, which is not pressurized, has a capacity of 6,000 pounds of payload, 19 passengers, or a mixed configuration.
Planemaker claims that SkyCourier was designed for high utilization and will deliver robust performance and lower operating costs. The avionics suite used by the aircraft is the popular Garmin G1000 NXi while its performance includes cruise speed of up to 200 ktas and a maximum range of 900 nm (1,667 km). According to Cessna, “both freighter and passenger variants of the Cessna SkyCourier will include single-point pressure refueling as standard to enable faster turnarounds.”
Cessna presented SkyCourier in November 2017 with an order for 100 units from FedEx. At the time, the manufacturer stipulated that the turboprop would enter service in 2020.