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Textron Aviation unveils new large-utility turboprop, the Cessna SkyCourier

Textron Aviation Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company, today announced its new twin-engine, high-wing, large-utility turboprop – the Cessna SkyCourier 408. FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company and longtime Textron Aviation customer, has signed on as the launch customer for up to 100 aircraft, with an initial fleet order of 50 cargo aircraft and options for 50 more. Entry into service for the clean-sheet design Cessna SkyCourier is planned for 2020. ( More...

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Mikel Wynn 6
Pretty sleek-looking! Hope it see's success. I bet it would be a suitable replacement aircraft for certain regional airline turboprops currently in service!
Dan Chiasson 2
IMHO comes down to money. Companies like FedEX have access to vast sums of capital while airlines are in a consistent race to the basement in terms pax sevices. Airlines will keep their old turboprops that are most likely long paid for. Same as they have done with jets where the average age is typically 15 - 20 years. Not easy to break in with new sales. Bombardier comes to mind.
MultiComm 3
Fixed Gear on a twin turbo prop? I hope that is just concept and not final design.
mboette 3
Why? Retractable gear adds weight and complexity for not much performance gain on an aircraft built for short routes. Keeping it fixed probably adds 200 pounds of extra payload, and at worse would cost 10 knots of cruise speed.
Dan Chiasson 6
Yup. These aircraft are meant to be rough, ready, versatile. These are intended to be cargo beasts first, people movers second. It will be interesting if they ever come out with a float version - an area where the twotter excels and appears to own that market (although small).
bartmiller 1
Absolutely. For aircraft in the < 250 KT range, the retractable gear gives very little efficiency (speed, fuel burn) advantage.

I have a Cessna RG, and our mantra is "If it moves, it breaks. If it breaks, you have to pay for it." And you avoid the need to jack up the plane and swing the gear at annual or 100-hour (or progressive).

Add to this fact that very few of FedEx's shorter routes are speed sensitive. Plus or minus 20-30 minutes won't change their operations or costs.

By far, most Cessna Caravans (C208) were bought by FedEx, so that plane and this new one are basically designed for one customer. Have a large-sale launch allows Cessna to afford the development costs and reduce production costs (since all the models in that run are identical).

Several Caravans have been used to be super-cool float planes. Don't thin that this new one will go that route ... but who knows?
Just like the Twin Otter.
Chris B 3
Make a great upgrade from their Cessna 208 Supercargomaster
Paul Smith 2
New jump plane for skydivers?
A May 1
Hope it can carry ice better than the Caravan
Reminds me of a shorter Dornier 228 with a T-tail!
Dan Chiasson 1
Hope it sees greater success than the Dornier.
Peter Ashby 1
Makes me ask , is the twin Otter still available, if not couldn't the used / refurbished market supply their needs?
Viking Air bought the plans and is making new Twin Otters. I heard some rumours about a model specially fitted out for commuter flights between Victoria and Vancouver, BC. There was even talk about carbon fibre floats that could survive a scrape by one of the slightly submerged logs in Victoria harbour.
Here’s a link for you Peter:
Peter Ashby 1
Thanks Wolfgang, would have been great if the jobs could have remained in Canada. :)
Peter, Viking Air is a Canadian company with headquarters and a plant in Victoria, BC, and some installation in Calgary.
Peter Ashby 1
Yes, I understand that, I am referring to the new Cessna aircraft being manufactured in the USA by Textron Inc. If only the customer would have chosen an already established winner , the Twin otter" which thus would have retained jobs in BC and Ab provinces. :)
gil graham 1
It looks like this one is designed around their containers.
The first 25 Viking Air DHC-6-400 Twin Otters were offered at $2.5 million USD. Within a few years prices escalated to $7.0 million USD green. The same will happen with the C408. Launch prices are much lower than actual market prices. The C408 II pax will end up around $8.0 million USD green. The -65 engines fuel burn will be higher. The 90% financing will be the key to selling the C408 II pax. Same as Raytheon did with the Beech 1900’s. The C408 II pax has the power so Textron needs to take it one step further and design the STOL version while they are in the development phase to match or surpass the Twin Otter performance stats in all utility configurations. This will guarantee the success of the C408 II for the next 50 years. There has never been a competitor to the Twin Otter. Will Textron be up to the challenge or ???
Ron Nash 1
For a clean-sheet design, there doesn't appear to be very much different from any 1960's design. Even the range is relatively poor. The fixed undercarriage looks like pure penny-pinching. Just looks like Fedex laid out what they wanted in a very conservative traditional design, and Textron did some tweaks to age-old designs at little cost, and there you are - a stunning new Textron design! Ho hum.
Eric Rindal 4
The physics of drag and weight haven't changed since the 60's. Thrust has improved as have avionics but drag and weight still drive design. That's why most small platform aircraft mostly look identical. Most changes to aircraft would be strictly for the marketing types and Fed Ex just doesn't care all that much as to what the box that delivers your package looks like.
Many OEM’s have tried to invade the Twin Otter Market over the years and some OEM’s are still trying with their derelict fleets of Y12, D228, Let 410, CASA 212, N219 and AN2 Aircraft. If Textron seriously intends to compete with the Twin Otter Head to Head then Textron must think outside the traditional OEM box then build the C408 to the same or better performance standards than the Twin Otter in all configurations plus offer to the smaller global Part 135 customers 90% financing which Viking Air has been unable to do thus far forcing Viking to lay off 60% of their work force. OEM’s must have a minimum two year backlog for long term planning. Ground clearance is very crucial for the STOL unimproved runway operations. Textron will need to produce two models. One C408 I or PF model aka SkyCourier for FEDEX to launch the C408 program and then another model C408 II version to specifically compete directly with the Twin Otter with heavy duty high flotation landing gear utilizing the larger tires for unimproved STOL runways, snow skies for Antarctica and even standard floats for operations in the Maldives. I would like to see the revised takeoff performance distance reduced to 700 meters for the C408 II model to see if Textron really intends to compete with the Twin Otter or does Textron only intend to compete in the D228, N219, Y12 and Let 410-UVPE Aircraft market.

My Additional comments:

Textron’s primary goal should be to sell sell sell. Once FEDEX takes delivery of the 50 to 100 SkyCourier Aircraft then what. Building a unpressurized 19 pax SkyCourier with giant PT6A-65 engines does not compete with the pressurized B1900. That leaves the derelict Y12E, D228-212, Let 410, AN2, Casa 212-200 and the new Indonesian N219 Aircraft that are still trying to compete with the Twin Otters. The SkyCourier has similar performance as the rest of these derelicts. If Textron wants to build another derelict Aircraft then continue with the current SkyCourier pax Aircraft plans. Textron would be lucky to sell 50 SkyCourier pax Aircraft over the next 20 years. If Textron wants to sell 500 plus C408 II Aircraft over the next 10 to 20 years then Textron must take off their gloves and design and build a C408 II that will be as good as or better than performance stats of a Twin Otter.


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