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.
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.”
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.”
When California-based Otto Aviation started taxi testing its Celera 500L six-person private craft in 2018, it generated a lot of attention towards the mysterious bullet-shaped plane. German aircraft engine manufactures RED Aircraft GmbH reveals how their RED A03 engine became a crucial element in how the futuristic aircraft achieves unrivaled performance.
Otto Aviation has recently unveiled its new bullet-shaped plane the Celera 500L, a six-passenger aircraft capable of flying at the speed of a jet with eight times lower fuel consumption. The aviation industry is currently abuzz with this launch, with many experts claiming that the Celera 500L has the potential to revolutionize private aviation. In addition to its’ many brilliant design concepts, the uniqueness of the Celera 500L can also be attributed to its RED A03 engine, a product from RED Aircraft GmbH known to deliver best-in-class efficiency.
Otto Aviation claims that the Celera 500L can cruise at more than 460 miles per hour, achieves a 4,500 nautical mile range, and has an operating cost of just $328 per hour. This aircraft will make it possible to connect all perceivable city pairings in the United States, owing to its fantastic range. According to the maker, the craft’s laminar flow design is the key factor behind its impressive coverage and fuel consumption. The Celera’s extremely low coefficient of drag combined with its lightweight composite structure enables it to operate on much less horsepower than equivalently sized jets or turboprops.
Another key attribute of Otto Aviation’s Celera 500L private aircraft is its liquid-cooled V12 twin six-cylinder German-built RED A03 engine. This rear-mounted engine is certified to operate using both biodiesels as well as Jet A1.
Mentioned below are some of the factors that influenced Otto Aviation to choose RED Aircraft GmbH’s RED A03 engine for the Celera 500L.
Otto Aviation CTO David Bogueremarked, "We evaluated several engine options for the Celera 500L. The RED engine outperformed each one with exceptional efficiency through higher altitudes. We’re delighted to partner with RED on this aircraft using their certified engine."
Sebastian Glück, Head of Business Development RED Aircraft GmbH said, "We are honoured and excited to be part of this new aircraft design.
The Celera 500L demonstrates the great potential of our game-changing RED A03 engine as well as our own engineering capabilities. The power plant combined with the aircraft’s unique design serves to dramatically reduce operating costs and provide performance with cruise speeds equivalent to similar-sized jet aircraft”
More about RED Aircraft GmbH and its products can be found at red-aircraft.com
Large crowds gathered at Heathrow on February 18, to watch the much-anticipated arrival of a British Airways Boeing 747 painted in the iconic design of its predecessor British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).
The aircraft entered the IAC paint bay at Dublin Airport on February 5, where it was stripped of its current British Airways Chatham Dockyard design before being repainted with the BOAC livery which adorned the BOAC fleet between 1964 and 1974.
Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: “The enormous interest we’ve had in this project demonstrates the attachment many people have to British Airways’ history. It’s something we are incredibly proud of, so in our centenary year it’s a pleasure to be celebrating our past while also looking to the future. We look forward to many more exciting moments like this as our other aircraft with heritage designs enter service.”
The BOAC livery will remain on the Boeing 747 until it retires in 2023, to allow as many customers as possible to have the chance to see it. By this time, British Airways will have retired the majority of its 747 fleet, replacing them with new state-of-the-art long-haul aircraft. This includes taking delivery of 18 A350s and 12 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the next four years – which feature new cabins and are more environmentally efficient – as well as another 26 short-haul aircraft, all part of the airline’s £6.5bn investment for customers.
Boeing has introduced its newest unmanned platform, the Boeing Airpower Teaming System. Designed for global defense customers by Boeing Australia, it is the company’s largest investment in a new unmanned aircraft program outside the United States. The aircraft will complement and extend airborne missions through smart teaming with existing military aircraft.
A model of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System was unveiled at the Australian International Airshow by the Australian Minister for Defence, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP. As a research and development activity, the Australian Government and Boeing will produce a concept demonstrator called the Loyal Wingman – Advanced Development Program that will provide key learnings toward the production of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.
“The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will provide a disruptive advantage for allied forces’ manned/unmanned missions,” said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Boeing Autonomous Systems. “With its ability to reconfigure quickly and perform different types of missions in tandem with other aircraft, our newest addition to Boeing’s portfolio will truly be a force multiplier as it protects and projects air power.”
The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will:
-- Provide fighter-like performance, measuring 11.7 metres long and able to fly more than 2,000 nautical miles
-- Integrate sensor packages onboard to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and electronic warfare
-- Use artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining safe distance between other aircraft.
“This aircraft is a historic endeavor for Boeing. Not only is it developed outside the United States, it is also designed so that our global customers can integrate local content to meet their country-specific requirements,” said Marc Allen, president, Boeing International. “The Boeing Airpower Teaming System provides a transformational capability in terms of defense, and our customers – led by Australia – effectively become partners on the program with the ability to grow their own sovereign capabilities to support it, including a high-tech workforce.”
The aircraft’s first flight is planned for 2020.
The Royal Canadian Air Force concluded its participation in CRUZEX 2018 in Natal, Brazil, on November 30, following almost two weeks of training alongside members of several militaries from around the Americas.
This was the RCAF’s second time participating in CRUZEX, which was last held in 2013. Operating two CC-130J Hercules cargo aircraft, the CRUZEX Air Task Force was made up of 37 members of 436 Transport Squadron and 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, and two jumpmasters from the Canadian Army Advanced Warfare Centre (CAAWC).
“During CRUZEX, we took the opportunity to fly tactical missions in combat scenarios, performing everything from airborne operations and container delivery system drops, to upgrade flights for our first officers,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Andy Bowser, Air Task Force Commander and Commanding Officer of 436 Transport Squadron. “Perhaps the most important part of the exercise for us was building relationships with our partner nations in the region.”
Second Lieutenant Mariana Dutra (left) and Lieutenant Lay-Ann Lie Vieira Quelie (centre), pilots with the Brazilian Air Force, join a warrant officer from 426 Transport Training Squadron on the ramp of an RCAF CC-130J Hercules for a training flight on CRUZEX 2018 near Natal, Brazil on November 23, 2018. Photograph by Able Seaman Paul Green
Defence diplomacy in the Americas is a key initiative of Strong, Secure, Engaged (Canada’s Defence Policy), and Brazil is one of the Government of Canada’s priorities for engagement in the Western Hemisphere. The RCAF has had a bilateral relationship with the Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira) since 2009.
During the combined training scenarios, RCAF members witnessed the operations of, and trained alongside, multiple Brazilian Air Force, Navy and Army aircraft; Chilean and United States Air Force F-16s and KC-135s; a French C-235 transport plane; Peruvian A-37s and Mirage 2000s fighters; and Uruguayan A-37s.
“Exercising in unfamiliar environments like Brazil contributes to the operational readiness of Air Mobility aircrew and technicians, as we may be called upon to fly anywhere in the world to support Canadian Armed Forces operations,” said Captain Samantha Behm, a pilot with 436 Squadron.
Members of CAAWC had the opportunity to jump from Brazilian C-130s and C-295s, and hosted Brazilian Army paratroopers on board RCAF CC-130Js for a jump. The exercise concluded with 160 Brazilian Army paratroops (“paraquedistas”) receiving their Canadian jump wings in a ceremony.
“Through participation in CRUZEX, the RCAF is strengthening international and regional security, and developing important relationships that will enable close collaboration on future humanitarian and military missions,” said Major-General Christian Drouin, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division.
As a part of its eightieth anniversary year, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is joining forces with the D-Day Squadron to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of D-Day. The D-Day Squadron is organizing a flight of restored C-47 and DC-3 (the civilian version of the C-47) aircraft across the North Atlantic next spring in a historic tribute to the veterans that took part in the invasion of Europe. With hundreds of thousands of members spanning 75 countries, AOPA is the largest aviation community in the world, representing a strong endorsement of the mission of the D-Day Squadron.
"AOPA and the D-Day Squadron are working together to educate the public about the amazing 75th anniversary of D-Day and the reason it’s worth celebrating,” stated Tom Haines, Senior Vice President, Media, Communications and Outreach for AOPA. “AOPA was formed 80 years ago to protect against undue restrictions on private flying as the war began in Europe and to give general aviation pilots a unified voice. Five years later the D-Day invasion commenced in an effort to assure those sorts of freedom to people across Europe.”
The D-Day Squadron consists of rare civilian and military survivors, such as Tunison Foundation’s Placid Lassie, Museum of Mountain Flying’s Miss Montana and the Commemorative Air Force’s That’s All, Brother. To date, 19 restored aircraft are committed to fly along the original route across the North Atlantic to join with its European counterpart, Daks over Normandy. These groups will create an aerial fleet over Normandy on June 5th and participate in multiple events on both sides of the English Channel. Events will take place on June 2nd-5th at Duxford Airfield in the United Kingdom and from June 5th-9th at Caen-Carpiquet Airport in Normandy, France.
“We will be cooperating on events and other activities to help the D-Day Squadron raise awareness of their mission to get these aircraft into England and ultimately over Normandy to honor the sacrifices of so many 75 years ago,” Haines said.
"We are extremely pleased and grateful to work with AOPA,” declared Moreno Aguiari, Executive Director of the D-Day Squadron. “This organization does an exceptional job serving the interests of its members as aircraft owners and pilots, and to promote the economy, safety, utility and popularity of flight in general aviation aircraft. Together we will honor aviation heritage and the sacrifice made by the men and women of the Greatest Generation."
The D-Day Squadron is the part of the Tunison Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. In June 2019, the D-Day Squadron will lead an American fleet of historic, restored C-47 World War II military aircraft in Daks Over Normandy, a flyover of more than 30 international aircraft to drop 250 paratroopers over the original 1944 drop zones in Normandy commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day. The event will honor the citizen soldiers of the War, whose bravery led the Allies to the liberation of France, and then to an end of the devastating War in Europe. The Squadron’s education program takes the compelling story of the citizen soldier to audiences at airshows and events off the flight line to honor these brave Americans and ensure their memory and significance is appreciated for generations to come. The group’s efforts are funded through the generous tax-deductible contribution of their supporters. Learn more at DDaySquadron.org.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association advocates on behalf of members, educating pilots, non-pilots, and policy makers alike. It supports activities that ensure the long-term health of General Aviation, fighting to keep General Aviation accessible to all. The AOPA team operates out of offices in Frederick, Maryland, Washington, DC, and seven regional offices. Learn more at www.aopa.org.