Textron’s New SkyCourier 408 Utility Turboprop Takes Shape

Textron Aviation is progressing on the development of its Cessna SkyCourier 408 utility turboprop, with assembly under way for the prototype and five additional flight test and ground test articles, the company announced Monday at EBACE 2019. Furthermore, component testing is ongoing for the aircraft’s propeller. Textron Aviation has outlined plans for certification later this year, with entry into service in 2020.

The Wichita, Kansas manufacturer unveiled the SkyCourier in November 2017, outlining a high-wing twin turboprop that will become the largest in its growing in-production turboprop lineup and be built to serve as a “workhorse.” It was announced with orders from FedEx for up to 100 aircraft, divided equally between firm orders and options. Based on the SkyCourier’s $5.5 million list price, the FedEx order carries a potential value of up to $550 million.

“When we began designing and developing the Cessna SkyCourier, we engaged a number of mission-centric customers for technical input to best meet their unique needs in one platform,” said company senior v-p of engineering Chris Hearne. “We are building this aircraft with the flexibility and reliability needed for a variety of high-utilization operations, including cargo, passenger, and special missions.”

In a cargo role, SkyCourier is designed to carry a payload of up to 6,000 pounds with an 87-inch cargo door, a flat floor, and a nearly 70-inch tall and wide—almost “square”—cabin to accommodate three standard LD3 air cargo containers. At the same time, Textron Aviation has also shown a mockup of the SkyCourier in passenger configuration. The turboprop offers seating for up to 19 passengers, with a netted rear cabin cargo area that can accommodate luggage and equipment. Plans call for the aircraft to fly up to 900 nm and have a speed of 200 ktas.

Textron Aviation selected proven components already in production for the SkyCourier, including the 1,100-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC turboprop engine and Garmin G1000 avionics, and will use traditional aluminum materials for airframe construction. The new 110-inch McCauley propeller has been mated with the -65B powerplant that is mounted on a test stand. Endurance and functional testing of the propeller comprises nearly 150 hours of operation and is covering a variety of simulated flight profiles, Textron Aviation said. In addition, assembly of the fuel system test article and nose and gear drop test article has begun and testing is slated to start later this month. Courtesy of AIN.

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