• An artist's impression of the new Cessna 408 SkyCourier. (Textron Aviation)
    An artist's impression of the new Cessna 408 SkyCourier. (Textron Aviation)

Textron Aviation has announced a new clean-sheet twin turbo-prop utility aircraft to be named the Cessna 408 SkyCourier.

Already, launch customer FedEx Express has signed up for 100 of the new high-wing twins, with options for another 50.

“With our depth of expertise and proven success in new product development, we were eager to work directly with a world-class company like FedEx Express to jointly develop the Cessna SkyCourier,” said Scott Ernest, president and CEO of Textron Aviation.

“The aircraft will fulfill a gap in this market segment with its superior performance and low operating costs in combination with the cabin flexibility, payload capability and efficiency only a clean-sheet design can offer.”

The Cessna SkyCourier 408 will be offered in cargo and passenger variants, with the cargo model featuring a large rear door and a flat floor that is large enought to handle three LD3 shipping containers. The maximum payload capability is 2722 kg for the cargo version.

The 19-passenger variant will include crew and passenger doors, as well as large cabin windows for great natural light and views, but has a reduced load capability of 2268 kg.

Textron has opted for 1100-shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A engines spinning McCauley BlackMac four-blade props, giving the SkyCourier a maximum cruise speed of up to 200 KTAS and a 900 nautical-mile maximum range.

FedEx is expecting the first airframes to be delivered in 2020, complementing the fleet of Cessna Caravans the company has been using for over 30 years.

“FedEx Express has had a great relationship with Textron Aviation over the years, and this new, advanced aircraft will play a key role in our feeder aircraft modernization strategy,” said David L. Cunningham, president and CEO of FedEx Express.

“The Cessna SkyCourier 408 offers a number of significant features that will enhance our long-term feeder strategy.”

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