Industry Second Cessna SkyCourier testbed takes flight

The second Cessna SkyCourier testbed aircraft has successfully performed its first flight.

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The first flight of the second Cessna SkyCourier testbed aircraft is another step forward in the certification process of the new aircraft. This milestone comes only two and a half months after the first prototype of the SkyCourier performed its first flight.

The aircraft, called P1, flew for one and a half hour and was piloted by Peter Gracey and Todd Dafforn. During the first flight, the crew reached a max altitude of 14,200 feet with a max speed of 210 ktas.

Textron Aviation said that the second aircraft will be primarily used for systems testing, including propulsion, environmental control and avionics. P1 is also the first aircraft that has been configured as cargo aircraft.

Chris Hearne, senior vice president, Engineering & Programs commented: “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.”

The second aircraft will now join the first prototype in the flight test certification program and Textron Aviation is hoping to double the speed with the two aircraft. The certification program will include thee variations of flying aircraft.

“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,” Hearne added.

Since the first flight of the SkyCourier in May, the company has successfully performed 38 flights while logging in over 76 flight hours. Over the course of these flights, Cessna was able to expand speed and center-of-gravity envelopes. Moreover, engine and propeller tests, as well as manoeuvrability tests have been performed.

The Cessna SkyCourier was designed for high utilization and will be offered in various configurations. Main customer for now is FedEx. The freight company ordered 50 aircraft plus 50 purchase options in 2017.

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