• The Cessna SkyCourier prototype on its first flight. (Textron Aviation)
    The Cessna SkyCourier prototype on its first flight. (Textron Aviation)

Textron Aviation yesterday announced the first flight of their prototype Cessna 408 SkyCourier twin turbo-prop utility aircraft.

The SkyCourier took off from the company’s east campus Beech Field Airport, piloted by Corey Eckhart, senior test pilot, and Aaron Tobias, chief test pilot. During the 135-minute flight, the team tested the aircraft’s performance, stability and control, as well as its propulsion, environmental, flight controls and avionics systems.

“We were very pleased with how the Cessna SkyCourier performed throughout its first flight,” Eckhart said. “It was particularly impressive to see how stable the aircraft handled on takeoff and landing. The Cessna SkyCourier already displays a high level of maturity in its flight characteristics, especially for a first flight.

"We were able to accomplish everything we wanted on this flight, and that’s an excellent start to the flight test program.”

Ron Draper, president and CEO, Textron Aviation, was bouyant after the successful test.

“Today was an exciting day for our employees, our suppliers and our customers," he said. "The Cessna SkyCourier performed exactly as we expected, which is a testament to the entire team of men and women who worked together to prepare for this day.

“I’m proud of the way the team has persevered through disruptions caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic and remained focused on getting us to this point. The Cessna SkyCourier will be an excellent product in its segment due to its combination of cabin flexibility, payload capability, superior performance and low operating costs.

"Our customers will be very pleased with what they experience from this aircraft.”

The prototype aircraft, along with five additional flight and ground test articles, will continue to expand on performance goals, focusing on testing flight controls and aerodynamics.

The C408 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC engines and will be available in several configurations including a freighter, a 19-seat passenger version or a mixed passenger/freight combination.

US courier Federal Express is expected to take delivery of the first examples to complement their fleet of C208 Grand Caravans.

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