Cessna’s SkyCourier Makes Initial Ground Runs

The Cessna SkyCourier is undergoing testing at Textron Aviation’s Wichita, Kansas, facilities. Courtesy Textron Aviation

The Cessna 408—known by its marketing name, the SkyCourier—marked a new milestone in its development program on March 23, when Textron Aviation announced the completion of a successful series of initial ground tests, including engine run. The prototype of the twin utility turboprop, named for its primary mission, features two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC engines. The test encompassed verification of the interplay between systems, including the fuel system and engine, plus the “interface with the avionics and electrical systems,” according to the company’s press release.

Chris Hearne, senior vice president, programs and engineering, said, “The successful engine run tests are a pivotal step toward proving the maturity of the aircraft and its systems as we prepare for first flight. We continue to meet each important milestone in our development schedule, and we look forward to having an outstanding aircraft for our customers.”

The prototype is joined by five additional flight and ground test articles. Wing mate occurred on the prototype in December 2019, with electrical system initiated in January 2020, and the tail assembly attached in February this year. Plans for the SkyCourier include payload-optimized (up to 6,000 pounds) and passenger configurations (up to 19 seats), as well as mixed pax/cargo options. The flight deck will host the Garmin G1000 NXi avionics suite. The company targets a 200 ktas cruise speed and 900-nm maximum range—with single-point pressure refueling.

The company anticipates certification in 2021.

Based in Maryland, Julie is an editor, aviation educator, and author. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate with Douglas DC-3 and CE510 (Citation Mustang) type ratings. She's a CFI/CFII since 1993, specializing in advanced aircraft and flight instructor development. Follow Julie on Twitter @julieinthesky.

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