Textron Aviation marked a key milestone in the development of its Cessna SkyCourier twin utility turboprop, announcing Thursday that it successfully mated the wings to the fuselage of the first prototype aircraft.
“As expected, the operation was sound as the wings were secured on the fuselage, and the new Cessna SkyCourier took another major step in its development,” said Chris Hearne, Textron Aviation's senior vice president of programs and engineering.
The Wichita airframer added the SkyCourier program is “progressing considerably” in the assembly of the prototype and five other flight and ground test articles as well as testing of its landing gear and avionics. The first flight is expected in 2020.
FedEx is the launch customer for the SkyCourier, with 50 firm orders for the airplane and options for 50 more. Configurable for both cargo and commuter operations, it is designed to carry a payload of up to 6,000 pounds with an 87-inch cargo door, a flat floor, and a nearly 70-inch-tall and -wide cabin to accept three standard LD3 air cargo containers.
In a passenger configuration, it will have seating for up to 19 passengers, with a netted rear cabin area for luggage and equipment. Capable of flying 200 ktas, the aircraft is powered by two 1,100-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC turboprop engines and two new 110-inch McCauley propellers.