Textron Aviation’s Cessna SkyCourier turboprop programme has entered the certification flight test phase. There are three aircraft in the flight test fleet, and between them they have completed more than 700 flight test hours. Textron Aviation is targeting FAA certification and first deliveries later in 2021.
Since the third aircraft joined the flight test programme in late 2020, the Cessna SkyCourier team has gained momentum through several accomplishments.
These include envelope expansion to all corners of the speed, altitude and structural design; extreme hot and cold weather testing, ensuring aircraft systems are functional and operational at extreme temperatures; and bird strike testing, which included eight separate tests over a two-month period, to demonstrate the impact resistance of the windshield glass and the surrounding structure. Other accomplishments include certification of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC engine through Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA), with FAA certification expected soon; and natural icing certification, demonstrating the aircraft’s ability to operate in actual icing conditions.
“The SkyCourier was designed to fulfil a need in the marketplace for a flexible, reliable, high-utilisation aircraft for customers around the world, and its versatility makes it a great fit for a wide range of operations,” said Chris Hearne, senior vice president, engineering and programmes. “The aircraft has performed exceptionally well through every phase of testing, and we’re pleased by its progress. With the start of certification flight test phase, we are entering one of the most important phases of the SkyCourier programme, and I’m confident in our highly skilled team and the outstanding abilities of this aircraft.”
Production final assembly for the SkyCourier began recently at the company’s East campus in Wichita, Kansad. State-of-the-art tooling, including high-speed machining, has been developed for the aircraft’s assembly.
“We’re excited to manufacture another revolutionary product for our customers,” said Brad White, senior vice president, operations. “Everything with the Cessna SkyCourier tooling is brand new and designed and produced in-house. Our production team has made final preparations to the process, focusing on every step to ensure assembly is completed with great efficiency and excellent quality.”
The Cessna SkyCourier will be offered in two configurations including a freighter with a 6,000lb payload capability, and a 19-seat passenger version, all based on the common platform.
The aircraft will include single-point pressure refuelling as standard to enable faster turnarounds. It features the Garmin G1000 NXi avionics suite and offers highlights such as a maximum cruise speed of up to 200ktas and a maximum range of 900 nautical miles.