Denali development, electric air racing, EASA GFC 500 approval
The prototype Cessna Denali was nearing completion in May, along with two further flight test aircraft and three ground test airframes. The prototype and first two production-conforming aircraft will be used in the flight test programme scheduled to begin later this year, while the ground test airframes will be used for static and fatigue tests, and cabin interior development and testing.
Cessna has also recently completed a Denali ‘iron bird’ full systems simulator test rig that incorporates the aircraft’s avionics, electrical and engine control systems in a framework that makes them easy to access during testing. At its Prague facility engine supplier GE has completed more than 1,000 hours of testing the Denali’s new 1,300shp Catalyst engine and 105in diameter Mccauley composite propeller, achieving full power and maximum rpm. Engine and propeller demonstrated the full range of pitch using a FADEC with integrated propeller control.
“The result of the work we are doing now in design, production and testing is going to provide a mature configuration that will help us move through certification and flight testing, ultimately bringing a proven aircraft to the market,” said Chris Hearne, Cessna Senior VicePresident, Engineering. “The Denali is being designed and built to outperform the competition in capability, pilot interface, cabin experience and total ownership costs. This new turboprop engine design will give it a number of key advantages over other aircraft in this class, and we are pleased to say that test engine performance is meeting or exceeding performance expectations. New technology allows for a much longer TBO, quieter operation and, because of the first-ever digital engine and propeller control, it will reduce pilot workload and have greater fuel efficiency than similar aircraft in its class.”
Meanwhile, Cessna has begun assembly of the prototype Skycourier twin utility turboprop and a further five flight and ground test airframes. Endurance and functional testing for the new Mccauley 110in diameter propeller consists of nearly 150 hours of operation and includes a variety of simulated flight profiles, driven by the aircraft’s 1,100shp Pratt & Whitney Canada WC PT6A-65B engine mounted on a test stand. Fuel system and nosewheel leg drop tests are also under way.
“We are building this aircraft with the flexibility and reliability needed for a variety of highutilization operations including cargo, passenger or special missions, and we are excited that the customers and the market are responding positively to its capabilities,” reports Chris Hearne.
The Skycourier will be offered in various configurations including cargo, passenger or a combination of both, all based on a common airframe. The cargo configuration is designed to accommodate three standard LD3 air cargo containers with a payload of up to 6,000 lb, while in passenger configuration it can be outfitted with up to nineteen seats. Launch customer Fedex Express has placed an initial fleet order for fifty cargoconfigured Skycouriers, with options for fifty more.
ABOVE: Cessna Denali flight testing will start later in 2019...
BELOW: ... while fifty Skycouriers have already been ordered