Textron Aviation Inc. on May 17 completed the first flight of its new twin utility turboprop, the Cessna SkyCourier. The test aircraft flew out of the company’s east campus Beech Field Airport in Wichita, Kansas, kicking off a new phase of the test program to validate the clean-sheet design for entry into service.
“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.”
Draper continued to explain the SkyCourier will be an impactful product in its segment due to a 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,” he said.
During its 2-hour and 15-minute first flight, the team – led by Corey Eckhart, senior test pilot, and Aaron Tobias, chief test pilot – tested the SkyCourier’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,” said Eckhart. “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.”
The SkyCourier, featuring Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC engines, will be offered in various configurations including a 6,000-pound payload capable freighter, a 19-seat passenger version or a mixed passenger/freight combination, all based on the common platform.
Featuring the Garmin G1000 NXi avionics suite, the aircraft is expected to be rated for a maximum cruise speed of up to 200 ktas and a maximum range of 900 nautical miles. Both freighter and passenger variants of the SkyCourier will include single-point pressure refueling as standard to enable faster turnarounds.