Two months short of the anniversary of its first flight in May 2020, Textron Aviation announced that its new Cessna SkyCourier had earned its FAA type certification. The SkyCourier, a large twin turboprop capable of multiple missions, is now in production and the first 50 airplanes will go to FedEx, which has an option to buy 50 more.
The airplane has a number of noteworthy features. Its twin, 1,110-shaft-horsepower Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65SC engines and four-blade McCauley aluminum propellers yield a 210-knot max cruise airspeed, and the SkyCourier’s huge cabin can haul three industry-standard LD-3 pallets (or two LD-2 pallets). Pallets are loaded through the airplane’s large 87- by 69-inch cabin door and can roll forward and aft on floor-mounted rails fitted with rollers. In a passenger variant, it can be a 19-seater with a stand-up cabin, overhead baggage bins, and a large aft baggage area. A combination floor plan alternative gives room for nine passenger seats and a generous aft cargo area. Single-point pressure refueling, Garmin G1000 NXi avionics, manual flight controls, fixed landing gear with conventional manual brakes and nosewheel steering are also included. Two cockpit entry doors are also standard.
When the SkyCourier was still in flight test, I flew the SkyCourier “Iron Bird” systems test article for AOPA Pilot. While this testbed version had understandably heavy control forces, its behavior was docile, and procedures were straightforward. Look for a pilot report on the SkyCourier in an upcoming issue of AOPA Pilot, Turbine Edition.