The First Production Cessna SkyCourier Rolls Out in Wichita

Textron Aviation plans first delivery to launch customer FedEx following certification in the first half of 2022.

The first of the SkyCourier fleet flew in May 2020, with the first production unit signaling the final phase of the certification process. [Courtesy: Textron Aviation]

The first production Cessna SkyCourier has seen the light in Wichita.

Textron Aviation [NYSE:TXT] announced the rollout of the P1 unit on Friday for the super-size, twin-engine utility turboprop. Launch customer FedEx Express [NYSE:FDX] has been eagerly awaiting the first of its upgraded fleet flagship—initially proposed for delivery at the end of 2021—and it has played an integral part in the clean-sheet design’s envisioning and development.

“Today is a rewarding day for our employees who have worked to design and build what I believe will become a legendary airplane for our company,” said Ron Draper, president and CEO of Textron Aviation. 

“The SkyCourier brings an impressive combination of cabin flexibility, payload capability, performance and low operating costs to the twin engine utility segment. We look forward to this highly versatile aircraft entering the market very soon.”

Update on Flight Test

The first SkyCourier (with a CE-408 model designation) took flight in May 2020, and it has now accumulated more than 2,100 hours in flight test on three test articles.

The first production-conforming unit marks the last stage of that program. After certification—now planned for the first half of this year—FedEx will accept the first of its new fleet. The company has committed to 100 units, with 50 aircraft in the cargo configuration on the initial order and 50 more on option.

The Model 408

The SkyCourier will come in both the cargo version and a passenger model that can flex to carry up to 19 people. The passenger version has both crew and passenger doors to facilitate entry and exit to the cabin compartment.

The Model 408 features:

  • Two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65SC engines
  • McCauley C779 four-blade, 110-inch propellers
  • Garmin G1000 NXi integrated flight deck
  • Flat-floor cabin capable of holding 3 LD3 shipping containers

Projected speed and range? A maximum of 200 ktas and a 900-nm range at its maximum endurance profile. The SkyCourier will lift up to 6,000 pounds of payload.

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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