Cessna announced on Monday that it had carried out the first ground tests with SkyCourier, its new twin utility turboprop. Equipped with two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC engines, the aircraft verified the functioning of the fuel system and the interfaces with avionics and electrical systems.
The first SkyCourier had received its tail set in early February and is still unpainted. The announcement confirms that the new plane’s program has not suffered significant delays after an explosion destroyed a hangar linked to the project in late December. A rupture in a nitrogen pipeline would have caused the accident that did not cause casualties or affect the aircraft.
“The successful engine run tests are a pivotal step toward proving the maturity of the aircraft and its systems as we prepare for first flight,” said Chris Hearne, senior vice president, Programs and Engineering. “We continue to meet each important milestone in our development schedule, and we look forward to having an outstanding aircraft for our customers.”
In addition to the first prototype, the SkyCourier certification program will feature five other flight and ground test aircraft.
After a long successful career with the single-engine Caravan, Cessna finally decided to launch an aircraft with similar characteristics, but greater capacity. In addition to the two reliable PT6 engines, SkyCourier has a high wing and a rectangular fuselage capable of accommodating up to 6,000 pounds of payload, 19 passengers or a mixed configuration.
Cessna, however, does not reveal the forecast for the first flight yet. Fedex is the launch customer of the model with 100 units ordered and which will replace the currently used Caravan and ATR 42.