Textron Unveils New Twin Turboprop

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Textron will build a new clean-sheet-design large-utility twin turboprop, and have it ready for delivery by 2020, the company announced on Tuesday. The new airplane was developed with launch customer FedEx Express, which has long depended on Cessna Caravans for its delivery fleet. The Cessna SkyCourier 408 will have almost twice the cargo space of the Caravan 208 and will add a large cargo door to support container operations. “The aircraft will fulfill a gap in this market segment,” said Textron CEO Scott Ernest. The 408 also will improve “fuel efficiency, reliability and operating costs” over the current fleet, according to FedEx Express CEO David Cunningham. FedEx Express, which currently operates 300 airplanes in 45 countries, has signed on for 50 airplanes, with options for up to 50 more. The airplanes sell for $5.5 million.

The aircraft will be driven by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC turbines, with a cruise speed of up to 200 knots and a 900-NM range. The cockpit will be equipped with Garmin G1000 avionics. The flat-floor cabin can handle up to three large shipping containers, with 6,000 pounds of maximum payload. The passenger variant will accommodate up to 19 seats. Both configurations will offer single-point pressure refueling to enable faster turnarounds. The company sees a broad market for the new airplane well beyond FedEx. “We see the whole freight industry as something that is going to double in the next 15 years, so we are investing in that market,” Ernest told CNBC.

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