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Textron Aviation Unveils New Large-utility Turboprop, the Cessna SkyCourier

Fedex Textron Aviation SkyCourier
FedEx Express will be the launch customer with up to 100 aircraft | Textron Aviation

Textron Aviation 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.

“With our depth of expertise and proven success in new product development, 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.”

Built for high utilization operations, the Cessna SkyCourier 408 will be offered in cargo and passenger variants. The cargo variant will feature a large cargo door and a flat floor cabin that is sized to handle up to three LD3 shipping containers with an impressive 6,000 pounds of maximum payload capability. The aircraft will also afford a maximum cruise speed of up to 200 ktas and a 900 nautical-mile maximum range.

The efficient 19-passenger variant will include crew and passenger doors for smooth boarding, as well as large cabin windows for great natural light and views. Both configurations will offer single-point pressure refueling to enable faster turnarounds.

The Cessna Caravan platform has set the standard in the single-engine utility category for decades. The Cessna SkyCourier will build on that proven success in the large-utility category, offering even greater capability and mission flexibility.

Textron Aviation has built a strong relationship with FedEx Express, which has utilized the Cessna Caravan platform in its feeder aircraft fleet for over 30 years.

“FedEx Express has had a great relationship with Textron Aviation over the years, and this new, advanced aircraft will play a key role in our feeder aircraft modernization strategy,” said David L. Cunningham, president and CEO of FedEx Express. “The Cessna SkyCourier 408 offers a number of significant features that will enhance our long-term feeder strategy.”

Earlier this month, FedEx announced the purchase of 30 ATR 72-600F aircraft with the option to purchase up to 20 more as a first step to modernizing the company’s feeder fleet. “These aircraft purchases are part of our long-term feeder fleet strategy,” said Greg Hall, Executive Vice President of Air Operations, FedEx Express. “That strategy will not only improve our fuel efficiency and fleet reliability, but thanks to a collaborative training program we are planning, will create a reliable pipeline of well-qualified pilot applicants for FedEx Express pilot jobs, leveraging the experience they will gain in our feeder system.”

The FedEx Express Feeder network is a strategic component of the overall global linehaul network, serving markets too small for direct FedEx Express air linehaul service and markets where FedEx Express does not have operating rights. The Feeder network is composed of more than 300 aircraft serving 45 countries. Most of these feeder aircraft are owned by FedEx and are leased and operated by different third-party air carriers under their own operating certificates. The FedEx feeder fleet is comprised of aircraft under 60,000 pounds maximum gross take-off weight, and allows the company to provide fast, economical service to small and medium-sized markets around the world.

The FedEx feeder fleet complements the company’s jet fleet of over 360 aircraft, including Boeing 777s, B767s and B757s, MD11s, MD10s, Airbus 300s and Airbus 310s.

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