Textron Aviation’s Beechcraft Denali turboprop single lifted off on its first flight this morning from Wichita Eisenhower National Airport on a flight over central and southern Kansas that lasted 2 hours and 50 minutes. Piloted by senior test pilot Peter Gracey and chief test pilot Dustin Smisor, the clean-sheet airplane reached an altitude of 15,600 feet and a top speed of 180 knots.
“Today’s landmark flight is not only a significant occasion for the Denali, it’s a truly great moment for our employees, our suppliers, and the customers who will be flying this aircraft,” said Textron Aviation president and CEO Ron Draper. “With its more environmentally friendly engine and largest cabin in its class, this is an aircraft that will change the landscape for high-performance single-engine turboprop aircraft. Today’s flight is just the beginning for what we anticipate will be a long list of important accomplishments as we prepare the aircraft for certification and customer deliveries.”
The first flight comes after initial runs of the new GE Aviation Catalyst engine on the Denali prototype in late August. The 1,300-shp engine features Fadec and trend monitoring, which will provide on-condition maintenance with no required mid-life hot section inspection. Catalyst can also operate on sustainable aviation fuel and with less fuel burn than older turboprops.
Originally branded as a Cessna airplane until mid-July, the Denali is equipped with Garmin G3000 touchscreen avionics, including three, 14-inch diagonal, wide-screen LCDs, synthetic vision, ADS-B In/Out and weather avoidance radar.
With an expected range of 1,600 nm, a maximum cruise speed of 285 knots, and a full fuel payload of 1,100 pounds, the airplane is configurable for both passenger and cargo missions with its flat floor.
It includes a 53-by-59-inch rear cargo door, as well as executive 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. Large passenger windows, interior LED lighting, and options for a refreshment cabinet and an in-flight-accessible baggage compartment round out the Denali’s features.
Denali offers six individual reclining seats, club-configuration tables, and a refreshment unit in executive configuration, and nine forward-facing seats in a high-density commuter configuration.
Two other flight-test Denalis and three additional ground articles will be used in the flight test program. Denali certification is expected in 2023.