Wichita surprise: Textron Aviation unveils and launches Beech 1900-sized Cessna SkyCourier with huge FedEx order
Textron Aviation has unveiled and launched the twin-engined Cessna 408 SkyCourier with a surprise order by FedEx for up to 100 aircraft worth $550 million at list price, in a move that reinserts the company into a market segment once occupied by the Beech 1900.
- Textron Aviation has selected a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-65 turboprop engine with an aluminium, four-bladed McCauley propeller.
FedEx opened secret discussions with the manufacturer seven months ago to co-design the SkyCourier as a clean-sheet replacement for the Memphis-based carrier's turboprop fleet of Cessna 208 Caravans and ATR 42s, says Textron Aviation's chief executive Scott Ernest.
With an emphasis in the design on simplicity and a clear bias for the freighter mission, Textron Aviation expects to move rapidly through development, achieving first flight in 2019 and entry into service with FedEx a year later.
"Nobody is looking for 'fancy' here. This is a workhorse," says Scott Donnelly, chief executive of Textron, the parent of the division that owns the Cessna and Beechcraft brands.
Featuring a 16.7m (54.9ft)-long fuselage and a 21.9m wingspan, the result is an aircraft with roughly the same length and payload as the Beech 1900 but few of the comfort and performance qualities that made the type ubiquitous as a regional feeder aircraft for passenger airlines in the 1980s. Production of the Wichita-built 19-seater ceased in 2002.
The SkyCourier's fixed landing gear and wing struts will limit the top speed to about 200kt, or about two-thirds the maximum speed of the 1900. Textron Aviation plans to develop a 19-seat passenger version, but...