The certification flight test phase of the Cessna SkyCourier development program has begun after the twin-turboprop checked off a number of milestones and continues its march toward FAA type approval and first deliveries later this year. So far, Textron Aviation’s fleet of three SkyCourier flight test vehicles (FTV) has accumulated more than 700 hours since the first flight of the high-wing airplane in May 2020.
Other milestones completed since the third SkyCourier FTV entered testing late last year are extreme hot and cold weather testing; bird-strike testing, including eight separate tests over a two-month period; certification of the Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65SC engine through Transport Canada Civil Aviation, with FAA approval expected soon; and natural icing certification.
“The aircraft has performed exceptionally well through every phase of testing, and we’re pleased by its progress,” said Textron Aviation senior v-p of engineering and programs Chris Hearne. “With the start of the certification flight test phase, we are entering one of the most important phases of the SkyCourier program.”
In addition to the flight-testing milestones, production final assembly of the SkyCourier will start this month at the airframer’s east Wichita campus. Launch customer for the airplane—which can be configured for cargo or passenger operations, or a combination of the two—is FedEx. The package carrier has firm orders for 50 SkyCouriers, along with options for another 50.