Textron Aviation has delivered the 500th Cessna Grand Caravan EX, with the landmark aircraft (N795J) handed to South Aero, a family-owned charter operator and long-time customer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The US manufacturer has achieved the delivery milestone in a little less than six years, having shipped the first example in early 2013.
Launched in July 2012, the EX is the third variant of the all-metal, high-wing 208 Caravan – introduced in 1984 – and the second iteration of the Grand Caravan, a stretched version of the 208, which arrived four years later.
Cessna replaced the predecessor’s 675hp (500kW) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-114A engine with an 870hp PT6A-140. This delivers a 38% improvement in the EX's rate of climb, and a 12kt (22km/h) boost in its cruise speed, to 195kt.
Cirium fleets data shows North America as having the largest inventory of EXs, with more than 50%, followed by Asia-Pacific with 20%, and Latin America with 15%.
The $2.7 million EX – which has an optional under-belly cargo pod – seats between 10-14 passengers, has a useful load of 3,690lb (1,670kg) and a maximum range of 960nm (1,770km).