Textron Aviation marked the first production rollout of the Cessna 408 SkyCourier utility twin-turboprop this week. (Photo: Textron Aviation)

Textron Aviation Rolls Out First Production SkyCourier

In a passenger configuration, its cabin can seat 19, with a netted rear area for luggage and equipment.

Textron Aviation rolled out the first production Cessna 408 SkyCourier for launch customer FedEx, the Wichita, Kansas–based airframer recently announced. This comes as the SkyCourier program's three test aircraft have logged more than 2,100 flight hours. FAA certification of the utility twin-turboprop is expected in the first half of this year—approximately two years after the SkyCourier's first flight in May 2020.

FedEx has a firm order for 50 SkyCouriers, with options for 50 more, and expects to take three of the clean-sheet airplanes in 2022, followed by 12 annually in 2023, 2024, and 2025, and 11 in 2026, according to a FedEx SEC filing.

"The SkyCourier brings a combination of cabin flexibility, payload capability, performance, and low operating costs to the twin-engine utility segment," said Textron Aviation president and CEO Ron Draper.  "We look forward to this versatile aircraft entering the market very soon.”

Cessna 408 SkyCourier

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Cessna 408 SkyCourier

This twin-turboprop features simple systems and rugged construction.

The SkyCourier is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65SC turboprop engines driving 110-inch McCauley propellers. It features a Garmin G1000 NXi flight deck.

Configurable for both cargo and commuter operations, the high-wing airplane is designed to carry a payload of up to 6,000 pounds with an 87-inch cargo door, a flat floor, and a nearly 70-inch-tall and -wide cabin to accept three standard LD3 air cargo containers. In a passenger configuration, its cabin can seat 19, with a netted rear area for luggage and equipment. The aircraft also will be available in a mixed passenger/cargo combination.