Textron Aviation’s new single-engine turboprop, the Beechcraft Denali, has taken to the skies for its first flight.
Piloted by senior test pilot Peter Gracey and chief test pilot Dustin Smisor, the Beechcraft Denali prototype aircraft, powered by GE Aviation’s new Catalyst engine, took off from the company’s west campus at Eisenhower International Airport. During the 2-hour and 50-minute flight, the team tested the aircraft’s performance, stability and control, as well as its propulsion, environmental, flight controls and avionics systems. The aircraft reached an altitude of 15,600 feet and attained speeds of 180 knots.
Ron Draper, president and CEO, Textron Aviation said: “Today’s landmark flight is not only a significant occasion for the Denali, it’s a truly great moment for our employees, our suppliers and the customers who will be flying this aircraft.”
He added: “With its more environmentally friendly engine and largest cabin in its class, this is an aircraft that will change the landscape for high-performance single-engine turboprop aircraft. Today’s flight is just the beginning for what we anticipate will be a long list of important accomplishments as we prepare the aircraft for certification and customer deliveries.”
“Excellent start” to flight test programme
Senior test pilot Peter Gracey said: “From the beginning of the flight to the end, the Denali was simply flawless. It’s just a great aircraft to fly. The Catalyst engine was outstanding, and the aircraft performed to the levels we were anticipating. First flights really can’t go more smoothly than this. We are really off to an excellent start for the Denali flight test programme.”
The Denali prototype aircraft, along with two additional flight test articles and three full airframe ground test articles, will continue to expand on operational goals, focusing on testing aircraft systems, engine, avionics and overall performance. The company is targeting certification for the Denali in 2023.
Denali has range of 1,600 nautical miles
The Beechcraft Denali is engineered to achieve cruise speeds of 285 knots and full fuel payload of 1,100 pounds, the Denali is designed to have a range of 1,600 nautical miles at high-speed cruise with one pilot and four passengers and will be able to fly from Los Angeles to Chicago, New York to Miami or London to Moscow.
The Denali is the first aircraft powered with GE’s Catalyst engine which burns up to 20 per cent less fuel than older turboprop technologies. The Denali can also use sustainable aviation fuel. The FADEC-equipped, 1,300 shaft horsepower (SHP)-rated turboprop engine eases pilot workload with its single-lever power and propeller control.
The aircraft is also equipped with McCauley’s new 105-inch diameter composite, 5-blade, constant speed propeller, which is full feathering with reversible pitch and ice protection.