Textron Aviation is in the final stages of completing the Cessna Denali prototype, along with two more flight and three ground test articles, as the development team prepares for first flight later this year, the company announced Monday. The Wichita, Kansas-based aircraft manufacturer will use the prototype and first two production-conforming aircraft in the flight-test program, while the ground test articles will be used for airframe static and fatigue tests, along with cabin interior development and testing.
“The result of the work we are doing now in design, production, and testing is going to provide a mature configuration that will help us move through certification and flight testing, ultimately bringing a proven aircraft to the market,” said Chris Hearne, senior v-p of engineering.
Along with the development of the flight-test vehicles and static test articles, Textron Aviation (Booth V19, SD405) recently completed component integration for the iron bird, a systems test rig that is laid out in the configuration and size of the Denali. The iron bird incorporates the design of the avionics, electrical, and engine control systems, and will play a key role in testing the aircraft engine’s Fadec system.
Meanwhile, engine provider GE Aviation recently reached full power and maximum RPM on the 1,300-shp Catalyst engine and McCauley composite propeller. GE Aviation has completed more than 1,000 hours of testing on three test Catalyst articles in all from its facility in Prague, Czech Republic. During testing, Textron Aviation said the engine and propeller demonstrated the full range of pitch using the Fadec. Initial altitude chamber testing also was recently was conducted.
“This new turboprop engine design will give the Denali a number of key advantages over other aircraft in this class, and we are pleased to say that test engine performance is meeting or exceeding performance expectations,” Hearne said. “New technology allows for a much longer time between overhaul, quieter operation and, because of the first-ever digital engine and propeller control, it will reduce pilot workload and have greater fuel efficiency than similar aircraft in its class.”
Along with the Catalyst engine, the Denali will be equipped with Garmin 3000 touchscreen avionics, including three 14-inch diagonal, wide-screen LCD displays, synthetic vision, and other technologies such as ADS-B In/Out and weather avoidance radar.
The Denali is expected to have a range of 1,600 nm, a maximum cruise speed of 285 knots, and a full fuel payload of 1,100 pounds. Designed to convert between passenger and cargo configurations, the Denali is intended to offer a large, flat-floor option in the single-turboprop class.
It will also sport a 53-by-59-inch rear cargo door, but have executive aircraft features such as 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. Textron further is incorporating large passenger windows, interior LED lighting, and options for a refreshment cabinet and an in-flight-accessible baggage compartment.
In passenger configuration, the aircraft can be designed with executive-style seating that includes six individual reclining seats, club-configuration tables, and a refreshment unit. It also can be fitted in a commuter seating layout with nine forward-facing seats.