Aircraft maker Textron has delayed deliveries of its Beechcraft Denali single-engine turboprop aircraft by a year.
The company now expects to certify the Denali, seen by many in the industry as a competitor to Pilatus PC-12 during the second half of 2024.
The five-seat Denali can achieve cruise speeds of 330mph (530km/h) and has a range of 1,800 miles (3,000km). The aircraft features Garmin G3000 avionics and the largest cabin in its class and uses GE Aviation’s new Catalyst engine.
Speaking at the NBAA-BACE 2022 event in Orlando Florida, Ron Draper, president and CEO of Textron said, “It is a move date. At the start of Covid we were working on Sky Courier and Denali. We rescheduled the Denali behind the Sky Courier. We had a customer [Fed Ex] who needed Sky Courier. There is no issue with the Catalyst engine.”
“The airplane is flying great, there aren’t any issues. It is a lot of work to certify an airplane and an engine at the same time and we are bold enough to do that. Our full engineering team is working on it and we have the three flight test aircraft,” added Draper.
The Cessna SkyCourier will be offered in several configurations including a 6,000 lbs payload capable freighter, a 19-seat passenger version or a mixed passenger/freight combination. FedEx has ordered up to 100 Sky Couriers and delivered the first earlier this year.
Textron said it needs to do the final development flights and heavy certification flights on the Denali program. The third and final test aircraft has been added to flight test program and the aircraft have so far accumulated close to 600 hours.
Meanwhile at NBAA-BACE Textron debuted its Cessna Citation M2 Gen2 and XLS Gen2 aircraft as well as showing the Velis Electro electric aircraft from Pipistrel, a company it acquired earlier this year.
Textron also reported growing sales. Draper said, “Despite the economic headwinds, we are seeing growth across all our product lines and flight activity is strong. We sold 20%of all our turboprops in Latin America last year.”
“We continue to see new customers coming into the industry, we are selling airplanes at all levels to new customers, most are at the light aircraft, but its exciting for the industry to see new customers.
“Fractionals are helping to get new customers to us, they get a taste for the convenience and flexibility of private aviation,” added Draper.