• Cessna C408 Skycourier prototypes in formation. (Textron Aviation)
    Cessna C408 Skycourier prototypes in formation. (Textron Aviation)

Cessna has been able to push ahead with the SkyCourier program despite the disruption caused by the global coronavirus pandemic, with the first production prototype getting airborne in Kansas this week.

The aircraft, known as P1, is the first one configured as a freighter and is destined forprimarily systems testing, including propulsion, environmental control and avionics. It is the second prototype, with the first one starting flight tests last May.

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

“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.”

Cessna will build and test a total of three flying prototypes during the development program, which will culminate with FAA type certification.

The Cessna SkyCourier will be offered in various configurations including a 2700-kg payload freighter and a 19-seat passenger version, all based on the common platform.

Designed for high utilisation, the Cessna SkyCourier is designed to deliver a combination of performance and lower operating costs. The aircraft features Garmin G1000 NXi avionics and has a maximum cruise speed of up to 200 KTAS and a maximum range of 900 nm.

The Cessna SkyCourier will include single-point pressure refueling as standard to enable faster turn-arounds.

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