In the midst of innovative projects using electric or hydrogen propulsion, the SkyCourier is a safe bet from Textron Aviation. The high-wing turboprop, with a capacity for up to 19 passengers follows the same concept as the successful single-engine Cessna Caravan, but on a larger scale.
The proposal in a more than tested platform- and which includes the reliable PT6A engines – found interested parties ranging from small regional companies, private operators to the giant FedEx, the launch customer of the model.
But if the SkyCourier, a Cessna-branded product, is already in service in the United States, Europe is still uncharted territory, where the aircraft is awaiting certification by EASA, the civil aviation agency of the European community, expected in 2025.
For that reason, Textron took a demonstration aircraft on a tour of the continent in July.
According to AIOnline, the turboprop spent 19 days visiting countries such as France, Germany, Greece and the United Kingdom, the last stop before returning to the USA.
The SkyCourier was even in Le Bourget, stage of the Paris Air Show, but landed at the French airport a week after the end of the event.
Textron instead displayed the turboprop at RIAT 2023 in England, an air show of military aircraft that has gained a commercial profile in recent years.
Textron Aviation executives were quite optimistic with the prospects made in Europe and mentioned the signing of sales agreements, but without disclosing customers or figures.
Military version in the plans
Launched in 2017, the SkyCourier flew for the first time in May 2020. The delivery of the first production aircraft took place two years later, to FedEx, in the freighter version, capable of carrying up to 6,000 lbs of parcels.
Until June, Cessna had delivered 15 turboprops, 12 C408F to FedEx, one to Bering Air, one to Kamaka Air and the only SkyCourier for passengers, to Western Aircraft, which operates it in Hawaii under the Lāna’i brand. Air. This aircraft, however, had not flown since June 24, according to the FR24.
Last month, Cessna delivered three aircraft, showing that the production rate is still at a slow level.
Depending on Textron’s plans, the Wichita, Kansas facility will be very busy in the future. The company intends to expand the list of turboprop missions, including military versions.
One of those interested in operating the SkyCourier as a utility aircraft is the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), which stated at the beginning of the year that it was studying the adoption of the model as a likely substitute for the EMB-110 Bandeirante, the first aircraft produced by Embraer.