Cessna’s latest aircraft, the SkyCourier, has undertaken its first flight from Beach Field Airport in Wichita.
The aircraft is a twin engine utility turboprop which promises to fulfil a number of roles for operators, including passenger airlines, cargo carriers, military operators and general aviation.
It is designed for high utilisation and boasts a range of 900nm at speeds of 200kts. It can carry up to 19 passengers.
So far FedEx Express has ordered the most examples, which will add to its regional routes replacing older Cessna 208 Caravans.
The prototype Cessna SkyCourier took off from the company’s east campus 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.
“We were very pleased with how the Cessna SkyCourier performed throughout its first flight,” Eckhart said. “It was particularly impressive to see how stable the aircraft handled on takeoff and landing. The Cessna SkyCourier already displays a high level of maturity in its flight characteristics, especially for a first flight. We were able to accomplish everything we wanted on this flight, and that’s an excellent start to the flight test program.”
“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. “I’m proud of the way the team has persevered through disruptions caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic and remained focused on getting us to this point. The Cessna SkyCourier will be an excellent product in its segment due to its combination of cabin flexibility, payload capability, superior performance and low operating costs. Our customers will be very pleased with what they experience from this aircraft.”
In addition to this test aircraft, N408PR, there are four ground test airframes being used in the certification process.