The Cessna SkyCourier turboprop continues to surpass significant milestones as it begins the certification flight test phase of the program for the high-wing, large utility aircraft. Each major achievement has allowed the members of the flight test program a better understanding of the aircraft’s strength, capability and durability.
The Cessna SkyCourier aircraft is designed and manufactured by Textron Aviation Inc., a Textron Inc. company.
The fleet of three flight test aircraft has now completed more than 700 flight test hours, and the programme continues toward FAA certification and first deliveries later this year.
Since the third aircraft joined the flight test program in late 2020, the Cessna SkyCourier team has gained momentum through several substantial accomplishments that include:
Production final assembly for the SkyCourier begins this month on the company’s east campus in Wichita. State-of-the-art tooling, including high-speed machining, has been developed for the aircraft’s assembly. “We’re excited to manufacture another revolutionary product for our customers,” said Brad White, senior vice president, Operations. “Everything with the Cessna SkyCourier tooling is brand new and designed and produced in house. Our production team has made final preparations to the process, focusing on every step to ensure assembly is completed with great efficiency and excellent quality.”
The Cessna SkyCourier will be offered in two configurations including a 6,000-pound payload capable freighter and a 19-seat passenger version, all based on the common platform. The Cessna SkyCourier aircraft will deliver a combination of robust performance and lower operating costs. The aircraft will include single-point pressure refueling as standard to enable faster turnarounds. The aircraft features the popular Garmin G1000 NXi avionics suite and offers highlights such as a maximum cruise speed of up to 200 ktas and a maximum range of 900 nm.
In February, Reliable Robotics completed a series of remotely operated test flights directed by a pilot stationed in its Mountain View headquarters over fifty miles away. The remote pilot in the control center instructed an upgraded Cessna 208 Caravan to taxi, takeoff, maneuver over a populated region, and land while communicating with nearby air traffic through the aircraft’s onboard radios. The company, a leader in autonomous aircraft system development, aims to be the first to bring automated air transportation to the cargo market. The flights mark a significant advancement for remotely piloted commercial aircraft in the United States.
“Automating a large aircraft with remote piloting infrastructure is an impressive technical achievement for commercial aviation, coming years before many in the industry expected,” said Charles Graham, former CEO for Aviation, DHL Express. “Operating from a control center increases safety margins, reduces workload and enables pilots to focus on communications and complex decision making.”
Reliable Robotics debuted its advanced autoflight system on a Cessna 172 in 2019. This recent exhibition underscores the flexibility in their approach to autonomy by fully integrating the same system with the larger Cessna Caravan. The test flights serve to advance the company’s main objective of certifying its system for use on any aircraft.
Remote Piloting Infrastructure
Early test flights are conducted by a remote pilot seated in the new control center, while an onboard safety pilot concurrently monitors flight performance. Data and experience gathered during each flight informs future engineering decisions, supports operational design within the workspace, and helps test and improve onboard control systems. With regulatory oversight and experimental approval to fly remotely piloted aircraft, the company plans incremental certification with gradually increasing autonomy.
Signaling the importance of trained pilots in their automation solution as well as the security implications associated with remotely operated aircraft, leadership from the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon 2 programs joined the team to develop the system’s human interface and cybersecurity framework. By leveraging existing training programs, pilots with established credentials and experience can transition into remote operation roles using knowledge and skills they already have.
Unlike today’s commercial autopilots, Reliable Robotics envisioned and built a system capable of remote operation from a control center staffed with professional pilots:
“Routine flight testing from our control center is essential for validating our design and developing human factors guidelines for commercial remote piloting,” said Casey Klebba, Director of Remote Piloting at Reliable Robotics. “Equally important is our work to support and advance the certification basis for autonomous aircraft systems so they can be operated at scale.”
Dynamic Air Transportation Systems
In recent years, the aviation industry has moved to the forefront of commercial autonomous vehicle development. Governed by strict regulations, the anticipated integration of remotely piloted planes promises greater efficiencies related to time, cost and access. Once certified for commercial use, advanced aircraft automation will allow operators to meet rising cargo demands and eventually offer more convenient flight options for passengers.
By expanding the use of small regional airports in underserved markets, major carriers will be able to open new routes and improve delivery speeds. Without reliance on local crew availability, flight turnarounds will be faster. Pilots will no longer be limited to flying specific types of aircraft, the same routes or only one to two flights a day. Geographically distributed control centers will enable constant operation across time zones, giving remote operators the ability to fly more frequently than traditional airlines.
“The demonstration from our control center highlights how our system incorporates the best of both — advanced automation and people — to improve aircraft operations,” said Robert Rose, Co-founder and CEO of Reliable Robotics. “When this technology becomes commonplace, we’re going to see a far safer and more productive National Airspace System for all participants.”
To bring remotely piloted aircraft to the market as soon as possible, Reliable Robotics plans to more than double in size over the next year. The company has already assembled a team of industry experts and continues to search for top engineering talent by embracing remote hiring and distributed collaboration. Their accomplishments were recently selected as a finalist for the 2020 Collier Trophy award for the greatest achievements in aeronautics or astronautics in the United States. Ambitious experimental and certification flight tests in 2021 include flying between airports and remote operation across state lines.
On February 9, Textron Aviation announced the newest addition to the Cessna Citation business jet family, the Citation CJ4 Gen2. The largest Citation in the light jet segment offers operators a host of features that elevate ramp presence and in-flight comfort, including a new stair and handrail, premium seating options and enhanced ambiance lighting throughout.
“With the CJ4 Gen2, we focused on a design that enhances passenger comfort with an elevated cabin to match the performance capabilities already trusted by Citation CJ4 owners,” said Christi Tannahill, senior vice president, Customer Experience. “Developments in technology have allowed us to introduce new design elements. A first for Citation light jets are the CoolView Skylights and a vanity option, which give our customers the atmosphere of a large aircraft with light jet performance capabilities.”
Textron Aviation is taking orders for the Cessna Citation CJ4 Gen2 with deliveries beginning immediately. The Cessna Citation CJ4, which achieved Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) type certification in 2010, remains a 525C type aircraft and has already received current interior certification for the CJ4 Gen2.
Elevated comfort and productivity in the sky
Upon entering the CJ4 Gen2, customers and pilots will notice redesigned stairs with a lower point of entry, handrail support and a customizable logo light. The refreshment center and galley area are comprised of improved storage options and an optional high-power outlet accompanied by a pull-out surface for a coffee maker. Additionally, extendable stone countertops are also available.
In the jet’s main cabin area, side-facing seat selections include a folding single seat, a fixed two-place couch and a folding two-place couch which provide additional storage capacity to secure belongings in flight.
Along with the new cabin seating options, there is enhanced lighting in the pockets, on the sidewall and floor, and in the cupholders. This is the first Citation aircraft equipped with CoolView lavatory skylights to provide more natural lighting throughout the lavatory and aft cabin area. Operators can choose the jet’s Premier Collection design option, which also offers a completely new lavatory vanity and sink.
The aircraft offers an upgraded wireless cabin management system consisting of an onboard media server with the ability to stream preloaded audio and video files, access XM Satellite Radio and view moving maps. As part of the new system, passengers can also wirelessly control cabin lighting, window shades and temperature from their own mobile devices while productivity is powered by the USB charging ports at each cabin seat.
“At Textron Aviation, we are constantly reviewing our aircraft, taking customer feedback and investing in our product lineup to ensure we stay ahead of evolving trends and support our customers as they experience first-class flight, total cabin comfort, and flexibility, making their aircraft the most productive place in the sky,” said Tannahill.
The Cessna Citation CJ4 Gen2 allows customers to go further with the light jet segment’s leading range-to-payload ratio and a best-in-class IFR range of 1,926 nautical miles (3,567 km) with a maximum cruise speed of 451 knots. The single-pilot certified jet combines superior speed, range and operating economics when compared with larger aircraft, making it the ideal platform for owner/operators or corporate missions. The CJ4 Gen2 has seating for up to ten passengers and includes a notable 1,040-pound baggage capacity.
WestJet today returned the first of its 737 MAX airliners to passenger service with the departure of WS115 from Calgary to Vancouver. With the second 737 MAX flight, WS122, from Vancouver to Calgary departing at noon PT.
On board the first flight were 71 guests including Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO, Chris Burley, WestJet Board Chair and Chris Rauenbusch, President, CUPE Local 4070 and a member of WestJet's Inflight team. The aircraft was piloted by Captain David Colquhoun, WestJet Master Executive Council Chair, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and Captain Scott Wilson, Vice President WestJet Operations.
"The return of WestJet's MAX aircraft to the fleet marks an operational milestone after 22 months of intense review," said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. "WestJet's preparation, training processes, due diligence and safety above all philosophy drives our confidence in welcoming guests on board our MAX aircraft."
Captain David Colquhoun, WestJet Master Executive Council Chair, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) said, "For nearly two years, ALPA has been working tirelessly with Transport Canada, international regulators, and airline management on reviewing the MAX and the revised pilot training requirements needed to safely return this aircraft to service. No one knows better than airline pilots what is needed to be adequately prepared and trained to manage the handling qualities of this renewed aircraft. Today, as we usher the safe return of the MAX in Canada, ALPA will continue to provide its expertise and voice of safety in future discussions."
"I was proud to operate the MAX aircraft today on its first commercial flight since the Canadian skies reopened," said Captain Scott Wilson, WestJet Vice President Operations. "I am confident with the changes made to the aircraft and our training procedures, our MAX is one of the safest aircraft in the skies."
Chris Rauenbusch, President CUPE Local 4070 said, "CUPE Local 4070, the union representing WestJet cabin crew members, has full confidence in the return of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to the workplace of our membership. Union representatives participated in a full technical briefing at Boeing facilities in Seattle, WA and following further data from Transport Canada, Boeing and WestJet, the union is confident that this aircraft type is safe for our cabin crew and our guests."
WestJet announced on January 6, the airline's phased and transparent approach to the return to service of the Boeing MAX aircraft. In addition, the airline has created a variety of resources to assist guests in feeling comfortable, including a behind-the-scenes video looking at the pilot and maintenance team efforts that went into safely returning the aircraft to the skies. Details can be found on the website: www.westjet.com/maxinfo.
SAKOR Technologies Inc., known for its high-performance dynamometer systems, announced that it recently provided a dynamometer test system to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. for use in testing starters/alternators for military remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) of the Predator class and larger. The system features a 58 horsepower AccuDyne AC 4 quadrant motoring dynamometer and other subsystems configured for starter/generator testing and is automated by SAKOR’s DynoLAB test automation controller.
The SAKOR test system will be used by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems for testing the motor that starts the RPA turbines. Once under turbine power, this motor then turns into a generator that produces electricity for flight controls and sensor suite onboard the RPA.
The AccuDyne four-quadrant dynamometer is capable of full bi-directional braking or driving the device under test. It can also provide full rated torque at stall (zero RPM). The dynamometer has been configured with 58 Hp bi-directional motoring and absorbing; line-regenerative power absorption; and a maximum speed of 12,600 rpm. The system is equipped with a heavy-duty test bench; vertical rack enclosure; and a four-phase power analyzer configured to measure the DC input and three-phase AC voltage, current and power output from the DUT motor controller (inverter). SAKOR also provided on-site installation supervision, commissioning, and training services.
The system is automated by SAKOR’s DynoLAB test automation controller, a powerful system that enables test engineers and/or technicians to design and implement complex test procedures without the need to learn a programming language. Operators can quickly configure and run tests using the easy to use, menu driven interface.
“We are proud to be involved with the effort to provide our military with the most advanced equipment in the world,” said Randal Beattie, president of SAKOR. “RPAs are at the forefront of modern technology and this test equipment will help ensure it remains state of the art far into the future.”
Sensenich has been awarded a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for its carbon ground adjustable pitch STOL propeller on Piper Super Cub Aircraft.
This STC allows installation on PA-18 “150” aircraft with Lycoming O-360 series engines, with future STCs planned for Lycoming O-320 powered Super Cubs and certain popular training aircraft.
“Our experimental customers have been raving about this propeller for several years, and now we can offer the same step up in performance to our certified customers,” says Sensenich President Donald Rowell.
Rowell continued, "This propeller’s quick and sure pitch adjustment gives the customer the option of maximum performance no matter what the flight profile may be."
Extensive testing required during the certification project in Alaska showed improved take-off, climb and cruise performance compared to what’s considered the industry standard fixed-pitch STOL propeller. When pitched for the same climb rpm as the standard propeller, climb rate was increased by 140ft/min, cruise speed was identical, and full-throttle level flight (FTLF) speed increased by 7 mph. When re-pitched to match the industry standard propeller's climb rate, cruise speed was increased by 8 mph and FTLF speed increased by 18 mph.
The new Sensenich composite propeller is less than half the weight of the legacy STOL propeller – 21 pounds vs. 44 for the metal unit.
The propeller is available in diameters from 78” to 82”. The STC also covers a 12” diameter, balanced composite spinner.
This STC will be available for new build propellers starting the first quarter of 2021. Pricing for the propeller with STC documentation is $6350 FOB Plant City. Adding the spinner brings the price to $7085 (including STC docs).
Sensenich began making wooden propellers in the early 1930s, introduced metal propellers in the '40s, developed composite propellers in the late '90s, and continues to push boundaries in the light aircraft, unmanned, and marine propulsion markets.
Private Aviation company Jet It, founded by industry veterans Glenn Gonzales and Vishal Hiremath in 2018, continued its rapid growth with the delivery of six new HondaJets during the final quarter of 2020. The investment is valued at over $36 million, and with the delivery of the additional six aircrafts, the young company more than doubled its fleet in 2020 and met its goal of ten aircraft in operation.
In response to market demand, Jet It has also expanded its sales and service operations to the West Coast. Along with several new West Coast owners, Jet It has onboarded top aviation sales veteran, Gino Jooyan, as Director of Sales, Western USA. Jooyan will manage and direct the Jet It business development strategy to secure new owners in the Western US.
"Gino is a servant leader with 20+ years of successful business aviation sales experience in the Western US at industry benchmarks FlexJet, Jet Aviation, and Executive Jet Management. He is a perfect fit for our culture, and we are very excited to have him formally introduce Jet It to a market that frequently inquired about our Westward expansion," says Jet It's CEO Glenn Gonzales.
Jet It has also launched sales and operations of its innovative business model in Canada. According to Gonzales, "The Canadian market has expressed a high level of demand for Jet It. The need for autonomous, efficient regional travel in Canada is very strong, as it is in the US with Jet It, or for Europeans flying with our sister company JetClub. Our growth in the States has generated awareness in Canada for so many interested in Jet It providing cost-effective private travel. Whether from Toronto to Montreal, Calgary to Vancouver, or from remote access communities, Jet It can connect you throughout Canada and the US."
According to Jooyan, "Jet It has been the best kept secret in private aviation, and I look forward to kicking off 2021 by delivering the ultimate customer experience with a first-class team of extraordinary pilots and operations staff, for customers in the Western US, Canada and beyond!"
For more information on Jet It or Jet It Canada visit, www.gojetit.com or www.gojetit.ca.
The Ninety-Nines Inc, recently announced that it was pleased to congratulate Kentucky Bluegrass 99s member, Terri Donner on her being inducted into the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame.
Terri Donner, who used her ’81 Amelia Earhart Scholarship to earn her multi-engine rating and went on to a career with UPS since 1989, has been named to the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame in Lexington Kentucky.
In delivering the award the judges were impressed by Donner’s work in “spearheading an outstanding and innovative programme introducing hundreds of young girls to aviation through the Girl Scout Aviation Day in the Louisville area, and a life of achievements for Donner with her support for women as aviation professionals.”
“I feel humbled and honored to be inducted in the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame,” says Terri Donner. “I’ve seen the fruits of my efforts in females starting their aviation journey. Some of the girl scouts have become pilots with regional airlines. I’m hopeful the trickle-down effect will increase the overall percentage of females seeking careers and adventures in aviation.”
In 1981 she won the Amelia Earhart Scholarship for her multi-engine rating; 1987 Kentucky CFI of the Year, and in 2011 the 99s Award of Inspiration. Donner has honored her scholarship and awards from the Ninety-Nines by giving back. For over thirty years she has served as the chair for the Kentucky Bluegrass 99s Earhart Scholarship selection committee and as Treasurer.
In 2019 Terri Donner’s son Nick was hired by UPS and together they have worked as Captain and F/O on the A300, the only mother/son qualified crew on transport category aircraft.
“The Ninety-Nines was created by the women fliers who in 1929 recognized the need for support and camaraderie, the need to encourage other females to consider aviation for both, as a career and for the fun of flying. Terri Donner exemplifies the roles we can play in encouraging young females to look towards the sky for their future”, exclaimed Corbi Bulluck, President of the Ninety-Nines.
The Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame has recognized forty-nine Kentuckians to date. Honoring WASPs and warriors, executives and designers, instructors, astronauts and spies.
Donner is part of the 25th Enshrinement class into the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame. Due to the interruptions caused by COVID public health restrictions, a formal induction ceremony will be held at the Aviation Museum of Kentucky in Lexington in the autumn 2021, on a date to be determined.
The PT6 turboprop engine is the proven choice for demanding, high-cycle/high-power applications in single- and twin-engine aircraft for all kinds of missions and applications. The engine fleet’s current flying population is more than 25,000 units and it has accumulated more than 410 million flight hours and counting–that’s more flying time than anyone else in this segment.
Makris sees the 50,000-engine marker as the opportunity to pause and thank customers and employees for this remarkable accomplishment. It is a testament to the ongoing success of the engine and the innovation behind its ongoing evolution. The most recent example of this being the launch of the PT6 E-Series™ engine, the first the first turbine engine in the general aviation market to offer a dual-channel integrated electronic propeller and engine control.
“This production milestone is unmatched in the industry. It offers us another opportunity to celebrate the engine’s ongoing success as we continue exploring new horizons for even more flying possibilities,” Makris said. “The achievement sits as the collective cornerstone of Pratt & Whitney in General Aviation. With the PT6 E-Series™ engine now at the forefront, we remain committed to pushing innovation as we’ve been doing since the very beginning.”
LED lighting company Aveo Engineering proudly announces the first FAA NORSEE (Non Required Safety Enhancing Equipment) approvals, for several of their Veolite interior sanitizing products. Known as Veolite, this new line provides a superior method of sanitizing aircraft interiors by using specific ultraviolet (UV) light wavelengths to destroy viruses, germs, molds, and other pathogens with over 99% efficacy.
Aveo's CabinPure light array, (weatherproof) CabinPure Tuff, and SafeSpace activation controller have been approved, and add a better method of sanitizing aircraft passenger areas, lavatories, galleys, and flight decks. These three new Veolite™ products are now approved for fixed mounting within the aircraft, providing a quick and thorough method of interior sanitization when the aircraft is between flights. These UV lights destroy the DNA of pathogens in under 3 seconds, and, for protection from the intense UV light, the SafeSpace controller ensures that no disinfection cycle can occur unless the interior is unoccupied.
Other Veolite sanitization solutions include a portable, battery-powered system that also is effective in eliminating all pathogens within a matter of seconds. Known as V2D2 OnePass, this hand held wand requires a minimum of operator familiarization and PPE, and is inexpensive to obtain and operate. These portable systems use rechargeable batteries that provide 2 to 5 hours of use, depending on the length of the disinfection period desired.