Second Cessna SkyCourier takes flight
The second Cessna SkyCourier test aircraft, denoted by Textron Aviation as P1, completed it first flight in early August, two and a half months after its prototype aircraft first flew on May 17 of this year.
Textron notes its P1 aircraft is the first conforming production flight test aircraft and also the first airframe configured as a freighter. Featuring Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65SC engines, the high-wing, large utility SkyCourier 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.
The first flight of P1, piloted by Peter Gracey and Todd Dafforn, lasted one-hour and 35-minutes reaching a maximum altitude of 14,200 feet and a maximum speed of 210 ktas. P1 will be leveraged primarily for systems testing, including propulsion, environmental control, anti-icing and avionics.
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.
“Since the debut flight for the prototype aircraft, the team has rapidly moved through testing and has accomplished its goals of initial envelope expansion and handling, including stalls,” said Chris Hearne, senior vice president, engineering and programs, Textron Aviation. “When you consider they have achieved all these milestones despite the many disruptions caused by a global pandemic, it’s quite remarkable. The Cessna SkyCourier program is heading through the second half of 2020 with a great deal of momentum.”
The flight test certification program will ultimately include three variations of flying aircraft. Since the Cessna SkyCourier prototype completed its first flight in May, the aircraft has successfully completed 38 flights and logged more than 76 flight hours. Through the flights, Textron states its team has been able to expand speed and centre-of-gravity envelopes, complete preliminary engine and propeller tests, as well as initial stability and maneuverability tests.