Cessna SkyCourier makes maiden test flight


Cessna’s new twin utility turboprop, the SkyCourier has made its first successful flight and started a flight test program to validate its performance.

Ron Draper, president and CEO of Textron Aviation, Cessna’s parent company said, “Today was an exciting day for our employees, our suppliers and our customers. 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 Beech Field Airport in Kansas, USA piloted by Corey Eckhart, senior test pilot, and Aaron Tobias, chief test pilot. During the two-hour and 15-minute flight, the aircraft’s performance, stability and control, as well as its propulsion, environmental, flight controls and avionics systems was tested.

“We were very pleased with how the Cessna SkyCourier performed throughout its first flight,” Eckhart said. “It was particularly impressive to see how stable the aircraft handled on takeoff 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 program.”

The prototype aircraft is one of five additional flight and ground test articles. All will continue to expand on performance goals, focusing on testing flight controls and aerodynamics during the test program, according to Textron.

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. All variants are based on a common platform. First deliveries of the aircraft are expected later this year.

The aircraft is designed for high utilization and 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 of the Cessna SkyCourier will offer single-point pressure refueling to enable faster turnarounds.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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