There’s a new Textron Aviation Inc. turboprop option on the market. FedEx Express has already signed up to operate it, which is estimated to enter service in 2020.
The Cessna SkyCourier 408 is a clean-sheet design, twin-engine, high-wing, large-utility aircraft. Textron said it is built for high-utilization operations and would be offered in both cargo and passenger variants. The cargo variant would feature a large cargo door and a flat floor cabin that could accommodate up to three LD3 shipping containers. It would also have 6,000 pounds of maximum payload capability, a maximum cruise speed of up to 200 knots true airspeed and a 900-nm maximum range. The passenger variant would be able to carry 19 passengers. It would have crew and passenger doors for smooth boarding and large cabin windows. Both configurations would offer single-point pressure refueling.
Textron thinks the 408 will fill a need unmet by other aircraft.
“We were eager to work directly with a world-class company like FedEx Express to jointly develop the Cessna SkyCourier,” said Scott Ernest, president and CEO of Textron Aviation. “The aircraft will fulfill a gap in this market segment with its superior performance and low operating costs in combination with the cabin flexibility, payload capability and efficiency only a clean-sheet design can offer.”
As the launch customer, FedEx Express could acquire up to 100 aircraft. The initial order includes 50 cargo aircraft — the additional 50 are in options. Undergoing a fleet modernization effort for its feeder aircraft, FedEx Express recently entered a purchase agreement for up to 50 ATR 72-600Fs. Deliveries of those aircraft are set to begin in 2020.