Cessna is moving quickly on the SkyCourier project, which parent company Textron Aviation announced in November. The company has completed the initial wind tunnel testing at the San Diego Wind Tunnel at the San Diego International Airport in California, and is making progress toward a final design.
The model used for the wind tunnel testing was equipped with electric motors and scaled propellers calibrated to represent the thrust produced by the airplane itself, said Textron Aviation’s senior vice president of engineering, Brad Thress. The tests help predict performance, aerodynamic characteristics and structural load data.
In addition to using the data gathered during the wind tunnel tests, the engineering team is collecting feedback from a customer advisory board. “The feedback we’re gathering from the CAB is extremely important as we develop an aircraft that is reliable, efficient and meets the diverse requirements of an array of mission profiles,” Thress said.
So far, the design parameters for the SkyCourier are for a large, high wing, twin-turboprop with a 6,000-pound maximum payload capacity. The range is expected to be about 900 nm at a cruise speed of around 200 knots. Two versions of the SkyCourier are planned: a commuter option and a freight option. The freight version will include an oversized cargo door and a wide-open space in the back, while the commuter will offer seats for 19 passengers.
Textron has an aggressive development plan for the SkyCourier, which is expected to fly next year and enter the market in 2020.