The Cessna SkyCourier twin-turboprop prototype lifted off on its first flight Sunday morning from Beech Field at Textron Aviation’s east campus in Wichita. Piloted by senior test pilot Corey Eckhart and chief test pilot Aaron Tobias, the utility twin flew for two hours and 15 minutes.
“We were very pleased with how the Cessna SkyCourier performed throughout its first flight,” Eckhart said. “It was particularly impressive to see how stable the aircraft handled on takeoff and landing. The Cessna SkyCourier already displays a high level of maturity in its flight characteristics, especially for a first flight. We were able to accomplish everything we wanted on this flight, and that’s an excellent start to the flight test program.”
With an initial order from FedEx for 50 copies of the high-wing airplane and options for 50 more, the SkyCourier is capable of flying 200 ktas powered by two 1,100-shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65SC turboprop engines driving 110-inch McCauley propellers. It also features a Garmin G1000 NXi flight deck.
Configurable for both cargo and commuter operations, the high-wing turboprop 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. It also will be available in a mixed passenger/cargo combination.
Along with the prototype, five additional flight and ground test articles will be part of the airframer’s flight validation program and will expand on testing flight controls and aerodynamics.
“I’m proud of the way the team has persevered through disruptions caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic and remained focused on getting us to this point,” said Textron Aviation CEO Ron Draper. “The Cessna SkyCourier will be an excellent product in its segment due to its combination of cabin flexibility, payload capability, superior performance, and low operating costs. Our customers will be very pleased with what they experience from this aircraft.”