Fabrication of the first test articles of the new Cessna Denali single-engine turboprop are taking shape.
The company has produced a test article of the airplane’s 53-inch-wide by 59-inch-high aft cargo door as well as parts of the airplane’s fuselage — those parts that will hold the cabin and cargo doors.
Separately, sister company McCauley Propeller Systems has completed test runs on the Denali’s five-blade composite propeller at maximum revolutions per minute, vibration testing and bird strike testing.
“This is an exciting time in the Denali program as this aircraft is now coming to life through the production of the first test articles,” Brade Thress, Textron Aviation senior vice president of engineering, said in a news release on Thursday. “The level of attention that goes into this phase of development results in a highly mature product in later stages of the development program.”
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Textron Aviation has high hopes for the clean-sheet airplane, designed in part to compete with Swiss airplane maker Pilatus’ PC-12 single-engine turboprop and Daher’s TBM.
The Denali is expected to have cruise speeds of up to 285 knots – about 328 miles an hour – and a 1,600-nautical mile range with a pilot and four passengers, enabling it to fly nonstop from Chicago to Los Angeles or London to Moscow.
First flight of the airplane – to be manufactured at the company’s Plant IV on its east campus in Wichita – is expected in 2018.