Cessna Aircraft’s SkyCourier, the company’s first new twin turboprop aircraft in a generation, took to the skies over Wichita, Kansas, on Sunday, May 17, for its first flight—a significant step toward entry into service for the clean-sheet aircraft.
The SkyCourier departed the company’s Beech Field Airport (KBEC) east campus, with Corey Eckhart, senior test pilot at the controls assisted by Aaron Tobias, Cessna’s chief test pilot. During the 2-hour and 15-minute flight, the team tested the aircraft’s performance, stability and control and its propulsion, environmental, flight controls and avionics systems. This first flight kicks off the important flight test program that validates the SkyCourier’s performance. 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 408 SkyCourier will be offered in various configurations including a 6,000-pound payload capable freighter, a 19-seat passenger version or a mixed passenger/freight combination, all based on the common platform. The new high-utilization turboprop is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC engines. The cockpit includes a Garmin G1000 NXi avionics suite. The SkyCourier promises a maximum cruise speed of up to 200 ktas and a maximum range of 900 nm. Both freighter and passenger variants of the airplane will include single-point pressure refueling as standard.