The Beechcraft Denali has made its first flight, kicking off the flight test programme. The single-engine turboprop is a clean-sheet design from Textron Aviation.
“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 Ron Draper, president and CEO, Textron Aviation. “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.”
Powered by GE Aviation’s new Catalyst engine, and piloted by senior test pilot Peter Gracey and chief test pilot Dustin Smisor, the Beechcraft Denali prototype made a two-hour and 50-minute flight. The team tested the aircraft’s performance, stability and control, as well as its propulsion, environmental, flight controls and avionics systems. The aircraft reached an altitude of 15,600ft and attained speeds of 180 knots.
“From the beginning of the flight to the end, the Denali was simply flawless,” said Gracey. “The Catalyst engine was outstanding, and the aircraft performed to the levels we were anticipating. First flights really can’t go more smoothly than this. We are really off to an excellent start for the Denali flight test programme.”
The Denali prototype aircraft – along with two additional flight test articles and three full airframe ground test articles – will continue to expand on operational goals, focusing on testing aircraft systems, engine, avionics and overall performance. The company is targeting certification for the Denali in 2023.
Engineered to achieve cruise speeds of 285 knots and full fuel payload of 1,100 lbs, the Denali is designed to have a range of 1,600 nautical miles at high-speed cruise with one pilot and four passengers.
The Denali is the first aircraft powered with GE’s Catalyst engine, which is designed to burn up to 20% less fuel than older turboprop technologies. Like the company’s other aircraft, the Denali can also use sustainable aviation fuel. The aircraft is also equipped with McCauley’s new 105in-diameter composite, five-blade, constant-speed propeller. The cockpit features the Garmin G3000 avionics suite with high-resolution and touchscreen controllers. An integrated Garmin autothrottle is now a standard feature, which interfaces with the Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) and Flight Management System (FMS).
The flat-floor cabin is designed to be the largest in its segment, with the versatility to easily convert between passenger and cargo configurations. The standard seating configuration has six individual reclining seats, while a nine-place high-density seating option is also available. There is a forward refreshment cabinet and a baggage compartment that is accessible in flight. An optional externally serviceable belted lavatory is available for the rear portion of the cabin.