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Cessna SkyCourier completes round in wind tunnel

Textron Aviation has completed the first round of wind tunnel testing for the Cessna 408 SkyCourier turboprop launched last November with an order by FedEx for up to 100.

Initial tests in the wind tunnel used electric motors and propellers tailored to simulate the real thrust of the aircraft’s two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-65 engines and aluminium, four-bladed McCauley propeller, says Brad Thress, senior vice-president for engineering at Textron Aviation.

The data will help the company’s engineers finalise design details before the first tools and parts are created, Thress adds.

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“We’re making outstanding progress in the development of this clean-sheet aircraft,” he says.

SkyCourier remains on track to start flight testing next year and enter service with FedEx in 2020. The Memphis-based express freight company on 28 November signed a firm order for 50 SkyCouriers, with options for up to 50 more.

The SkyCourier has received “tremendous interest” from operators in the market for a new twin-engined utility aircraft sized comparably to the Beech 1900, Textron Aviation says.

The unpressurised aircraft features struts for the high-mounted wing, fixed landing gear and a 1.78m (5.84ft)-wide fuselage cross section. Cessna designed the SkyCourier to hold up to three standard LD-3 containers, with a 2.21m-wide, outward-opening door for easy loading and unloading.

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