The first production unit rolled off the line earlier this year at Textron's facility in Wichita and now that the twin-turboprop has earned its FAA type certification, it's ready to enter service with launch customer FedEx Express.
FedEx, along with other fleet operators, joined Textron Aviation's Customer Advisory Board to help define the aircraft's design and capabilities. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65SC turboprop engines, the SkyCourier can reach a maximum cruise speed of more than 230 mph (370 kph) and cover 1,035-mile (1,666-km) distances.
The freighter version has a large door and a flat floor cabin, and it has a payload capacity of up to 6,000 lbs (2,720 kg). The aluminum four-blade propeller with full feathering and changeable pitch improves performance when hauling huge loads.
In addition to the freighter variant, the SkyCourier also comes as a 19-passenger model, which supports boarding from two doors for easier access and features large windows. Single-point pressure refueling is available in both configurations, allowing for shorter turnarounds.
"Our clean-sheet design brings to this segment what customers said they need: the ability to load, fly, unload and repeat with low operating costs and maximum cabin flexibility and efficiency. We expect the SkyCourier to be a workhorse of the fleet for FedEx and many other customers around the globe for decades to come," said Ron Draper, CEO of Textron Aviation.
FedEx Express initially ordered 50 cargo variants, with the option of adding another fleet of 50 SkyCouriers.