Cessna’s SkyCourier program has benefited from a third test aircraft joining the test fleet late in 2020. Among them, the SkyCourier has flown more than 700 hours and remains on track to gain certification and begin deliveries later this year, according to Cessna.
Among the areas recently tested with the addition of the third ship are extreme hot- and cold-weather testing, bird-strike testing via eight tests over two months and “natural icing certification, demonstrating the aircraft’s ability to operate in actual icing conditions,” says Cessna. Ice in Wichita in winter? No problem. The SkyCourier’s version of the venerable Pratt & Whitney PT6A, the 65SC variant, has received Canadian certification and is expected to be approved by the FAA soon.
“The SkyCourier was designed to fulfill a need in the marketplace for a flexible, reliable, high-utilization aircraft for customers around the world, and its versatility makes it a great fit for a wide range of operations,” says Textron’s Chris Hearne, who is senior vice president of Engineering & Programs. “The aircraft has performed exceptionally well through every phase of testing, and we’re pleased by its progress. With the start of certification flight test phase, we are entering one of the most important phases of the SkyCourier program, and I’m confident in our highly skilled team and the outstanding abilities of this aircraft.”
Cessna says that production manufacturing had begun in March. Brad White, senior vice president of operations, says that “Everything with the Cessna SkyCourier tooling is brand new and designed and produced in house. Our production team has made final preparations to the process, focusing on every step to ensure assembly is completed with great efficiency and excellent quality.”
The $5.5 million Model 408 will launch with FedEx, which placed an order for 50 (with an option for another 50) in 2017.