Textron Aviation’s Cessna SkyCourier recently garnered two aviation awards. The teams involved were presented with the James McDonnell Team Achievement Award from the Society of Flight Test Engineers, and the Aviation Week Network Laureate Award for Business Aviation.
“It continues to be my privilege to lead this impressive team, as they’ve shown relentless determination, expertise and hard work in bringing a new, innovative product to the market,” said Chris Hearne, senior vice president of engineering. “This aircraft will have a significant impact on the industry for decades to come.”
The Laureate Award for Business Aviation recognises the achievements of individuals and teams in the industry, particularly those who have made the greatest impact on aerospace over the past year.
Following a boom in online commerce and package deliveries, Textron Aviation began designing the clean-sheet aircraft with input from FedEx Express.
Hearne – along with Ab Dirkzwager (director of engineering and programmes), Darrel Hornbaker (project engineer) and Miranda Konowitz (programme manager) – travelled to Washington DC to accept the award on 3 November 2022.
Other honourees included 4AIR for Business Aviation Sustainability, RedTail Flight Academy, Signature Flight Support SAF Utilization, and VRM Switzerland.
Meanwhile the James McDonnell Team Achievement Award was awarded to the SkyCourier programme for the team’s work in developing the aircraft to reach certification. It recognises “a team that has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of flight testing through the application of innovative technology or operational procedures”.
Keith Gittemeier (flight test engineer senior specialist), Julie Brown (SkyCourier assistant manager), Josh Bosire (performance flight test engineer) and Shannon Lunsford (flight test engineering manager) travelled to London, Ontario, to celebrate the achievement on 27 October 2022.
The James McDonnell Award recognises the SkyCourier’s 22-month journey to FAA certification in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite roadblocks such as associated manpower, quarantine processes and remote work challenges, the SkyCourier was the first FAA Part 23 programme using the new Amendment 64, which requires the use of the new consensus standards for aircraft certification.