Textron Aviation (Booth V22) has started building the first test articles of its new Cessna Denali turboprop single, the company announced on Thursday. Since the Denali was unveiled at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, last summer, program engineers have started fabrication of the first static and fatigue test articles and initiated testing with the fuel system iron bird test article.
The Wichita, Kansas-based aircraft manufacturer has begun fabrication of Denali door test articles, including the 51-inch wide by 53-inch tall aft cargo door. According to Textron Aviation, the large aft cargo door will add “enhanced capability” to the turboprop, especially for special mission operators.
Denali engineers have also started tests on the complete fuel system iron bird mock-up, which has already provided “valuable feedback” for the development team, allowing them to fine-tune the system. Additionally, testing is under way on the McCauley 105-inch, five-blade composite propeller for the airplane. Program engineers have successfully completed propeller test runs at max RPM, vibration testing, and bird strike testing.
“This is an exciting time in the Denali program as this aircraft is now coming to life through the production of the first test articles,” said Brad Thress, senior vice president, engineering. “The level of attention that goes into this phase of development results in a highly mature product in later stages of the development program.” Interior group designers have also created a virtual reality cockpit where pilots can put on a special glove and reach out and "touch" cockpit controls or walk around the cabin and test various amenities. "We're making good progress," he said.
Flight testing is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of next year, followed by certification in 2019.
The Denali will have a range of 1,600 nm, a maximum cruise speed of 285 knots, and a full fuel payload of 1,100 pounds. It features a flat-floor cabin, aforementioned large rear cargo door, a digital pressurization system that maintains a 6,130-foot cabin to 31,000 feet and an optional externally serviceable belted lavatory with pocket door enclosure in the aft of the cabin.
Inside, the cabin will also incorporate large passenger windows, interior LED lighting, a refreshment cabinet, and an inflight accessible baggage compartment. The cabin is designed to be easily and quickly converted between passenger and cargo configurations.
A new GE Aviation fadec-equipped 1,240-shp engine with single lever power and propeller control will power the Denali. The engine incorporates the modular architecture of the T700/CT7 turboshaft for better performance and lower operating costs and features an all-titanium, 3-D aero compressor design for light-weight and efficient power generation, cooled turbine blades enabling higher thrust and fuel efficiency, and integrated and electronic propulsion control to enable the single-lever power control. GE plans conduct a detail design review of the new engine this year, and flight testing is slated to start next year.
In the cockpit, the Denali will be equipped with Garmin G3000 touchscreen-controlled avionics that will include weather radar, TAWS, and ADS-B capabilities. The airplane will also be offered with a five-year limited warranty covering airframe, engine, and avionics and will qualify for enrollment in Textron Aviation's ProAdvantage programs.