Extreme temperatures, windshield impact tests, and flight in icing conditions are among the horrors that the forthcoming Cessna SkyCourier has endured to date in the name of FAA certification, Textron Aviation announced in a progress report.
FedEx has ordered the first 50 SkyCouriers that will be turned out from the Wichita, Kansas, factory, with options on another 50. The Wichita Business Journal reported that FAA certification of the heavy-hauling turboprop twin (capable of flying with a 6,000-pound payload, or configured as a 19-seater for passenger service) expected later this year will solidify Textron’s place as the top local employer, with a workforce of 8,200 people that recently surpassed that of commercial aviation vendor Spirit AeroSystems Inc. While the coronavirus pandemic crippled commercial air travel, Cessna is bullish that sales lost to COVID-19 in 2020 will be recaptured this year and next.
The production line has also been completed, including “high-speed machining,” and final assembly of the $5.5 million production aircraft is underway, a company spokesman confirmed April 1.
“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,” said Chris Hearne, Textron Aviation senior vice president of engineering and programs. “The aircraft has performed exceptionally well through every phase of testing, and we’re pleased by its progress. With the start of [the] 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.”