Cessna received its FAA type certification for the model 408 Cessna SkyCourier, a twin-turboprop high wing aircraft. The first flight of the aircraft occurred in May 2020, and a trio of test aircraft flew more than 2,100 flying hours.
Launch customer FedEx has a firm order for 50 cargo models, with an option for 50 more. With a large cargo door, 7 foot 3 inches by 5 foot 9 inches, the SkyCourier can hold up to three LD3 shipping containers. The aircraft is anticipated to supplement the existing Cessna Caravan fleet at FedEx with additional capacity for its service to smaller regional airports.
The SkyCourier will also be available as a 19 seat passenger aircraft, or as a combi with both passenger and freight accommodations. While primarily designed around the needs of the freight market, the aircraft is expected to be used in varying capacities in smaller and more remote markets, given its rugged build. The SkyCourier will join the single-engine Caravan in providing innovative solutions for customers that need to right-size their requirements.
The aircraft is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC turboprop engines with four-blade McCauley propellers and is certified for single-pilot operations. The aircraft has a maximum cruise speed of 200 knots, with a range of 900 nautical miles. A video featuring the aircraft by Cessna can be found here.
“Achieving FAA certification for the Cessna SkyCourier demonstrates the expertise and hard work of our employees, as well as Textron Aviation’s continued investment in providing solutions for our customers”, said Ron Draper, Textron Aviation’s President, and CEO. “Our clean-sheet design brings to this segment what customers said they need: the ability to load, fly, unload and repeat with low operating costs and maximum cabin flexibility and efficiency. We expect the SkyCourier to be a workhorse of the fleet for FedEx and many other customers around the globe for decades to come.”