Textron Aviation’s new twin utility turboprop, the Cessna SkyCourier, has made its maiden flight, kicking off the flight test programme for the clean-sheet aircraft.
“Today was an exciting day for our employees, our suppliers and our customers,” said Ron Draper, president and CEO at Textron Aviation. “The Cessna SkyCourier performed exactly as we expected, which is a testament to the entire team of men and women who worked together to prepare for this day. 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. 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.”
The Cessna SkyCourier took off from the company’s east campus at Beech Field Airport, piloted by Corey Eckhart, senior test pilot, and Aaron Tobias, chief test pilot. During the two-hour and 15-minute flight, the team tested the aircraft’s performance, stability and control, as well as its propulsion, environmental, flight controls and avionics systems.
“We were very pleased with how the Cessna SkyCourier performed throughout its first flight,” said Eckhart. “It was particularly impressive to see how stable the aircraft handled on take-off 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 programme.”
The prototype aircraft, along with five additional flight and ground test articles, will continue to expand on performance goals, focusing on testing flight controls and aerodynamics.
The Cessna SkyCourier, featuring Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC engines, will be offered in various configurations including a freighter with 6,000 lb payload capability, a 19-seat passenger version or a mixed passenger/freight combination, all based on the common platform.
The aircraft is designed for high utilisation, robust performance and lower operating costs. It will feature the Garmin G1000 NXi avionics suite, a maximum cruise speed of up to 200 ktas and a maximum range of 900 nautical miles. Both freighter and passenger variants will include single-point pressure refuelling as standard, to enable faster turnarounds.