Last Update: at 20:22

Maiden flight

Cessna’s Sky Courier is airbourne

Textron's largest aircraft ever offered has flown for the first time. The test pilots were satisfied with the hybrid of passenger and cargo aircraft.

Suddenly everything is going fast. In March, Textron announced the finalization of the first engine tests. But the corona crisis led to two-thirds of the workforce being furloughed, and so the maiden flight of the Cessna 408 Sky Courier planned for this year was suddenly uncertain.

But on Sunday (May 17) the new aircraft took off for the first time. For two hours and 15 minutes, the test pilots checked flight performance, stability, avionics and controls in the air for the first time before returning to Beech Field Airport near Wichita in the state of Kansas. After the maiden flight, they were very satisfied with the twin-engined propeller aircraft.

Pilots are satisfied

«It was particularly impressive to see how stable the aircraft was during take-off and landing», said test pilot Corey Eckhart. A total of five prototypes are to be involved in the test campaign in future, both in the air and on the ground. Textrom as owner of the Cessna brand already has a major customer for the Sky Courier in Fedex. The logistics giant ordered a total of 50 Cessna 408s.

As a freighter, the Sky Courier is designed for three LD3 standard containers with a maximum weight of 2.7 tons. A large side door is designed to enable fast loading. Textron also offers the aircraft without a pressurized cabin as a passenger aircraft with space for 19 passengers. This version has one door each for the passengers and the pilots to enable fast boarding.

Competition for Twin Otter and Dornier 228

As a passenger aircraft, Sky Courier is treading in a contested area: the PZLM M28 Skytruck, Let L-410, Dornier 228, Harbin Y-12 or De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter have been serving the market for twin-engine turboprop test aircraft with seats for 17 to 19 passengers for decades.

See pictures of the maiden flight of the Cessna Sky Courier in the picture gallery above.

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