The FAA has granted type certification for the new twin engine, large utility turboprop Cessna SkyCourier. Using a clean sheet design and advanced manufacturing processes, the high-wing aircraft’s production line is underway and the first unit will soon enter the market with launch customer FedEx Express.
“Achieving FAA certification for the Cessna SkyCourier demonstrates the expertise and hard work of our employees, as well as Textron Aviation’s continued investment in providing solutions for our customers,” says president and CEO Ron Draper. “Our clean sheet design brings to this segment what customers said they need: the ability to load, fly, unload and repeat with low operating costs and maximum cabin flexibility and efficiency. We expect the SkyCourier to be a workhorse of the fleet for FedEx and many other customers around the globe for decades to come.”
Three SkyCourier aircraft accumulated more than 2,100 hours throughout the flight test programme, which formally started with an inaugural flight in May 2020. The company rolled out the first production unit of the SkyCourier earlier this year at its manufacturing facility in Wichita.
Launch customer FedEx Express has agreed to an initial fleet order of 50 cargo aircraft and options for 50 more. FedEx Express participated in Textron Aviation’s Customer Advisory Board along with other fleet operators to help shape the aircraft’s design, features and serviceability.
The Cessna SkyCourier offers a combination of performance and lower operating costs for air freight, passenger and special mission operators. In addition to the freighter version, there is a 19 passenger variant that includes separate crew and passenger entries for smooth boarding, as well as large cabin windows for natural light and views. Both configurations offer single-point pressure refuelling to enable faster turnarounds.
The aircraft is powered by two wing-mounted Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65SC turboprop engines and features the McCauley Propeller C779, a heavy duty and reliable 110-inch aluminium four-blade propeller, which is full feathering with reversible pitch, designed to enhance the performance of the aircraft while hauling large loads. The SkyCourier is operated with Garmin G1000 NXi avionics. It has a maximum cruise speed of more than 200 ktas and a 900 nm maximum range. The aircraft features a large door and a flat floor cabin, and the freighter version can hold up to three LD3 shipping containers with 6,000 lbs of payload capability.