A new turboprop twin from Textron Aviation has been rumoured for some time but it hard to see what segment of the aviation that the owners of Beech and Cessna would aim for. Rumour no more! Textron has confirmed it is developing a new, clean-sheet design, twin-engine, high-wing, large-utility turboprop and it’s called the Cessna SkyCourier 408.
What’s more, Textron has a launch customer for the SkyCourier which immediately shows where the market is. FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company and longtime Textron Aviation customer, has signed for up to 100 aircraft, with an initial fleet order of 50 cargo aircraft and options for 50 more.
The SkyCourier will come in two configurations to start with, cargo and passenger, and Cessna won’t be hanging around with the development. The Wichita, Kansas company says the $5.5m SkyCourier will enter into service in 2020.
“With our depth of expertise and proven success in new product development, we were eager to work directly with a world-class company like FedEx Express to jointly develop the Cessna SkyCourier,‚” said Scott Ernest, president and CEO of Textron Aviation.
“The aircraft will fulfill a gap in this market segment with its superior performance and low operating costs in combination with the cabin flexibility, payload capability and efficiency only a clean-sheet design can offer.”
Built for high utilization operations, the Cessna SkyCourier 408 will be offered in cargo and passenger variants. The cargo variant will feature a large cargo door and a flat floor cabin that is sized to handle up to three LD3 shipping containers with an impressive 6,000 pounds of maximum payload capability. The aircraft will also afford a maximum cruise speed of up to 200ktas and a 900nm maximum range.
The 19-passenger variant will include crew and passenger doors for boarding, as well as large cabin windows for natural light and views. Both configurations will offer single-point pressure refuelling to enable faster turnarounds.
The Cessna Caravan platform has set the standard in the single-engine utility category for decades. The Cessna SkyCourier will build on that proven success in the large-utility category, offering even greater capability and mission flexibility.