As is evident from its name, carrying cargo is a significant future role for Cessna’s brand new offering: the SkyCourier. Capable of carrying 6000lbs of cargo or 19 passengers a distance of 900 nautical miles at a speed of 200ktas, the SkyCourier already has a customer: FedEx.
The courier company has placed an order for 50 SkyCourier aircraft with an option for 50 more and is to Cessna what Emirates was to Airbus when the A380 was launched.
The SkyCourier is designed as a “workhorse,” added Scott Donnelly, chairman and CEO of Textron Aviation parent company Textron. “No one is looking for fancy here…It needs to have reliability, durability. This is all about utility and our ability to get to market quickly with an economic solution, both in terms of acquisition and what it would cost to operate.”
The aircraft will be equipped with proven components already in production, such as the -65 variant of Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PT6A turboprop engines and Garmin G1000 avionics, and will be built from traditional aluminum materials. “We tried to keep the airplane remarkably simple so it has the highest possible dispatch reliability construction,” said Brad Thress, senior vice president, engineering for Textron Aviation.
FedEx has been working with Cessna over the past seven months, Thress said, “to co-develop this product into what it needs to be to be successful in its service. The innovation is supporting their logistics, so they can load and unload the airplane quickly.”
The SkyCourier is expected to take to the sky in its first flight in 2019 and will enter service with launch customers in 2020.