Testing, Testing: Second Cessna SkyCourier Flies


Textron Aviation is pushing ahead with the Cessna 408 SkyCourier test program with a second example taking flight this week. The first article of Cessna’s clean-sheet utility twin flew in May, but this ship, called P1, is what the company describes as the “first conforming production flight test aircraft.” According to Cessna, this example will focus on testing “propulsion, environmental control and avionics” 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, senior vice president, engineering & 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. The Cessna SkyCourier program is heading through the second half of 2020 with a great deal of momentum.”

The 19-seat turboprop twin can also be configured as a freighter, as the P1 test article is. So far, the SkyCourier prototype and flight-test ships have logged 76 hours over 38 flights. It’s powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65 turbines of 1,100 SHP each and is slated to cruise at 200 knots. The first flight of P1, piloted by Peter Gracey and Todd Dafforn, reached 14,200 feet with a max speed of 210 knots. All told, five test articles will be used in the certification effort.

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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