Textron Aviation on Nov. 23 announced its new single-engine turboprop, the Beechcraft Denali took to the skies for the first time, with the milestone flight for the clean-sheet design aircraft noting that start of its flight test program.
“With its more environmentally friendly engine and largest cabin in its class, this is an aircraft that will change the landscape for high-performance single-engine turboprop aircraft,” said Ron Draper, president and CEO, Textron Aviation. “Today’s flight is just the beginning for what we anticipate will be a long list of important accomplishments as we prepare the aircraft for certification and customer deliveries.”
The Beechcraft Denali prototype aircraft, under the control of senior test pilot Peter Gracey and chief test pilot Dustin Smisor, took off from Textron’s west campus at Eisenhower International Airport for what amounted to a two hour and 50 minute flight. Powered by GE Aviation’s new Catalyst engine, the Textron team tested the aircraft’s performance, stability and control, as well as its propulsion, environmental, flight controls and avionics systems. The aircraft reached an altitude of 15,600 feet and attained speeds of 180 knots.
“From the beginning of the flight to the end, the Denali was simply flawless,” Gracey said. “It’s just a great aircraft to fly. The Catalyst engine was outstanding, and the aircraft performed to the levels we were anticipating. First flights really can’t go more smoothly than this.”
Textron explains the Denali prototype aircraft, along with two additional flight test articles and three full airframe ground test articles, will continue to expand on operational goals, focusing on testing aircraft systems, engine, avionics and overall performance. The company is targeting certification for the Denali in 2023.
The Denali is engineered to achieve cruise speeds of 285 knots and full fuel payload of 1,100 pounds, targeting a range of 1,600 nautical miles at high-speed cruise with one pilot and four passengers. This would allow the airplane to fly non-stop from Los Angeles to Chicago, New York to Miami or London to Moscow.
The Denali is the first aircraft powered with GE’s Catalyst engine, described by GE as a more sustainable engine that burns up to 20 per cent less fuel than older turboprop technologies. The FADEC-equipped, 1,300 shaft horsepower (SHP)-rated turboprop engine eases pilot workload with its single-lever power and propeller control.
The airplane is also equipped with McCauley’s new 105-inch diameter composite, 5-blade, constant speed propeller, which is full feathering with reversible pitch and ice protection.
The cockpit will feature the Garmin G3000 avionics suite with integrated autothrottle as a standard feature, which interfaces with the Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) and Flight Management System (FMS) for speed control throughout all flight regimes.
The Beechcraft Denali also features a flat-floor cabin, helping operators to convert between passenger and cargo configurations. The cabin features a standard seating configuration of six individual reclining seats and offers a nine-place high density seating option.