Textron Aviation has unveiled and launched the twin-engined Cessna 408 SkyCourier with a surprise order by FedEx for up to 100 aircraft worth $550 million at list price, in a move that reinserts the company into a market segment once occupied by the Beech 1900.
FedEx opened secret discussions with the manufacturer seven months ago to co-design the SkyCourier as a clean-sheet replacement for the Memphis-based carrier's turboprop fleet of Cessna 208 Caravans and ATR 42s, says Textron Aviation's chief executive Scott Ernest.
The aircraft appears optimised to the perform the cargo feeder mission that FedEx desires. The roughly 178cm (70in)-tall by 178cm-wide fuselage cross section is big enough to hold three LD-3 containers or palletised cargoes, says Brad Thress, senior vice-president of engineering for Textron Aviation. The SkyCourier also will feature a 221cm-wide cargo door hinged at the top to open outward, he adds.
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