Cessna SkyCourier’s Second Test Aircraft Flies

The twin turboprop enters the next phase of flight test.

The two flying test articles for the Cessna SkyCourier program join up over Kansas skies.Textron Aviation

The second flight test article for the Cessna SkyCourier program took flight in Wichita on August 11. In Textron Aviation company parlance, the first conforming prototype is referred to as “P1,” and it was this component of the SkyCourier program that made its first flight from Wichita’s Beech Factory Airport (KBEC).

Piloted by engineering flight test pilots Peter Gracey and Todd Dafforn, the 1 hour and 35 minute flight reached an altitude of 14,200 feet and a maximum airspeed of 210 knots—above the planned maximum cruise speed for the twin turboprop. As part of the flight test program, P1 will be used for systems testing, such as propulsion, avionics, and environmental control systems.

“This flight is another important step for the Cessna SkyCourier program as it will be used primarily for testing aircraft systems like avionics, environmental control and anti-icing,” said Chris Hearne, Textron Aviation’s senior vice president, engineering and programs. “Since the debut flight for the prototype aircraft, the team has rapidly moved through testing and has accomplished its goals of initial envelope expansion and handling, including stalls. When you consider they have achieved all these milestones despite the many disruptions caused by a global pandemic, it’s quite remarkable.”

One of three flying aircraft planned for the program, P1 joins the first test article, which has made 38 flights and tallied more than 76 flight hours—expanded the center-of-gravity and speed envelopes, stability and maneuverability proving, and initial powerplant tests. The company anticipates certification in 2021.