• Cessna's clean-sheet Denali SETP aims to challenge the market supremacy of the Pilatus PC-12. (Textron Aviation)
    Cessna's clean-sheet Denali SETP aims to challenge the market supremacy of the Pilatus PC-12. (Textron Aviation)

Textron Aviation yesterday updated the business aviation industry on the progress of the clean-sheet Cessna Denali and SkyCourier programs.

The updates comes as the business and corporate aviation world convenes for the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to Textron, the first prototype of the single-engined turbo-prop (SETP) Denali–which aims to challenge Pilatus' PC-12–is nearly complete and work is progressing on the two flight-test aircraft and three ground-test articles.

“The result of the work we are doing now in design, production and testing is going to provide a mature configuration that will help us move through certification and flight testing, ultimately bringing a proven aircraft to the market,” said Chris Hearne, senior vice president, Engineering.

“The Denali is being designed and built to outperform the competition in capability, pilot interface, cabin experience and total ownership costs.”

The prototype and the first two production conforming aircraft will be used in the flight test program set to begin later this year, where the three ground test articles will be used for the company’s airframe static and fatigue tests, and for cabin interior development and testing.

Central to the Denali's customer offering is the new GE Aviation Catalyst 1300-shp turbine engine.The test bed recently achieved full power and maximum RPM with a McCauley 105-inch composite propeller fitted.

"This new turboprop engine design will give the Denali a number of key advantages over other aircraft in this class and we are pleased to say that test engine performance is meeting or exceeding performance expectations” Hearne said.

“New technology allows for a much longer time between overhaul, quieter operation and because of the first-ever digital engine and propeller control, it will reduce pilot workload and have greater fuel efficiency than similar aircraft in its class.”

Alongside the Denali, Textron is developing the twin turbo-prop SkyCourier utility aircraft. Designed to switch easily between passenger and freight, the SkyCourier will carry 19 people or three LD3 cargo containers.

The first SkyCourier protoype is nearly complete, with work on the other flight- and ground-test airframes well underway.

“When we began designing and developing the Cessna SkyCourier, we engaged a number of mission-centric customers for technical input to best meet their unique needs in one platform,” said Hearne.

“We are building this aircraft with the flexibility and reliability needed for a variety of high-utilization operations including cargo, passenger or special missions and we are excited that the customers and the market are responding positively to its capabilities.”

The SkyCourier will be fitted with the proven Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65B 1100-shp engines and the new McCauley 110-inch propeller, the combination of which is currently undergoing a 150-hour testing program.

Textron has 50 firm orders for the SkyCourier from launch customer Federal Express, with options for a further 50 aircraft.

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