Cessna studies single-engine t-prop

 - November 29, 2010, 10:51 AM

It’s no secret that Cessna is in the early stages of developing a new single-engine turboprop–one designed for fast, comfortable traveling and intended to complement the company’s highly successful utilitarian ­turboprop single, the Caravan. But the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-powered airplane that spotters have seen flying around Wichita is not the prototype for the new airplane, according to Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton. That airplane is a testbed for technologies such as de-icing and environmental control systems.

“The aircraft we are flying, while based on a Mustang fuselage, is only a technology demonstrator [two flights so far] and is not a precursor to anything,” a Cessna spokesman told AIN.

Pelton confirmed that Cessna is seeking to fill the niche between the high-performance piston-single composite Corvalis and the twin-turbofan Mustang light jet. A lot of pilots don’t want a twinjet, he said, but at the same time Cessna engineers haven’t been able to devise a configuration for a single-engine jet that would deliver the range and payload that buyers prefer.

“We’re doing a single-engine turboprop,” Pelton said. “It’s a clean-sheet six-seat design.” And the target market is the move-up buyer who owned a Corvalis and wants the 1,000-nm-plus range that it offers and the speed and performance of a turbine engine. Cessna does have internal milestones for development of the single-engine turboprop, he added, but those aren’t being revealed publicly. “It’s a natural for Cessna to fill that niche,” he said. “We absolutely have a product, and we’re telling our shareholders. We’ll have more new products out next year.”