By Chase Hagl
Textron Aviation Delivers FedEx’s First Cessna SkyCourier
On Monday, Textron Aviation delivered the first Cessna SkyCourier to its launch customer, FedEx Express. The delivery of the twin-engine, high-wing turboprop marks the first of FedEx’s 50 aircraft orders for the SkyCourier. However, FedEx has options for 50 additional aircraft if they see fit. For Textron Aviation, the SkyCourier is their newest freighter, as it received its type certificate earlier this year in March.
Through improved performance at lower operating costs, the aircraft looks to play a vital role in FedEx’s feeder operation.
“For nearly 50 years, FedEx has been known for being flexible and innovative in finding solutions for our customers, and this aircraft will help us better serve small and medium markets where we aren’t able to operate our larger aircraft,” said Scot Struminger, CEO and Executive Vice President of Aviation, FedEx Express. “The SkyCourier will make us more efficient, now being able to move containerized and palletized freight for our customers.”
Textron Aviation and FedEx Express collaborated throughout the entire development process of the aircraft, from engineering to design, the teams tailored the aircraft to best suit the carrier. The two companies are no strangers to each other, however. They have been working collaboratively for many years.
“FedEx took delivery of its first Cessna in the mid-1980s and the two companies have had a collaborative relationship over the four decades since,” said Textron Aviation President and CEO, Ron Draper. “We’re thrilled to deliver this aircraft that will help FedEx serve its customers more efficiently as it is designed with the option to carry industry-standard prepacked cargo containers. We believe much other air freight, passenger, and special mission operators also will benefit from the winning combination of low operating costs and unparalleled lift capacity that the new Cessna SkyCourier brings to the market.”
The Cessna 408 SkyCourrier will play an important role in FedEx’s initiative to modernize its fleet.
The aircraft generates power through two wing-mounted Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65SC turboprop engines and utilizes a four-bladed, 110-inch aluminum McCauley Propeller C779. The full feathering, reversible pitch propeller is designed to enhance the performance of the aircraft while carrying large loads. The aircraft features Garmin G1000 NXi avionics. It has a maximum cruise speed of more than 200 knots and a 900 nautical-mile maximum range. The aircraft features a large door and a flat floor cabin. It is capable of holding three LD3 shipping containers with a 6,000 lb payload capability.
The SkyCourier isn’t just a freighter. Textron Aviation designed a 19-passenger variant of the aircraft that includes separate crew and passenger entries for smooth boarding, as well as large cabin windows for natural light and views. Both configurations offer single-point pressure refueling to enable faster turnarounds.
The SkyCourier is a much-needed refresher for the industry and looks to replace older aircraft. The average twin utility turboprop on the market today is 30 years old, indicating that a modern aircraft is due.
Much of FedEx’s smaller markets are served by the highly successful Cessna 208 Caravan. The versatile 408 SkyCourier doesn’t look to replace the Caravan, but rather works alongside it.