Beechcraft Denali turboprop to enter service only in 2024

Textron business aircraft will use GE’s new Catalyst engine, whose certification schedule is delayed

Textron Aviation, owner of Beechcraft, revealed during the NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) convention that the new Denali single-engine turboprop will not enter service until the second half of 2024.

The new target means a one-year delay in the aircraft program, which is intended to be a competitor to the successful Pilatus PC-12.

The reason for the new delay involves GE Aviation’s Catalyst engine, whose certification reached only 50% of the tests. Production on the new powerplant is expected to start well later than planned, motivating Textron to reschedule the Denali certification as well.

The Wichita manufacturer announced that a third test plane had joined the program in September. The aircraft fleet already has 600 flight hours, Textron explained.

The Catalyst engine is the first of its kind to be designed in five decades. The turboprop market has been dominated by the PT-6, from Pratt & Whitney Canada, and equips the PC-12.

Beechcraft Denali

Optimism

Despite the reprogramming, Textron Aviation remains optimistic about the future of Denali. “This is going to be a game-changing aircraft that our customers are looking forward to,” said Lannie O’Bannion, senior vice president of global sales and flight operations, during a media briefing at the NBAA this week.

The Beechcraft Denali first flew in November 2021 and in June a second prototype joined the program. The Catalyst engine has 1,300 shp of power and uses the FADEC system and McCauley 5-blade propellers.

According to Textron, the Denali can reach a cruising speed of 528 km/h and fly 2,963 km nonstop, enough distance to fly four passengers between Los Angeles and Chicago or New York to Miami, for example.

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