Textron Aviation unveils single-engine turboprop

For the past few weeks, customers coming to its Wichita Beechcraft delivery center have been stepping inside a mockup of the new turboprop, which has yet to be given a name, for a look. The mockup of the up to nine-seat (pilot and eight passengers) cabin will be unveiled at AirVenture Oshkosh in July.

Both Cessna and Beechcraft had long wanted to enter the single-engine turboprop market. Now that the two companies have become integrated after Beechcraft’s sale to Textron, the turboprop’s advanced design process has been able to select the features and technology from the best of each, says Michael Thacker, Textron Aviation SVP, Engineering. It also has listened to customer input. “Developed with the pilot and passenger at the forefront, we have designed this airplane to be the clear winner in this segment, from class-leading performance and ownership costs, to superior cabin comfort and versatility,” Textron Aviation president and CEO Scott Ernest said here at EBACE yesterday.

The turboprop will have a range of 1,600 nm. at high speed cruise with one pilot and four passengers, and will cruise at speeds up to 285 kt. Full fuel payload is 1,100 lb., and service ceiling 31,000 ft. Introductory price is $4.5 million. Features include Garmin G3000 touch-screen avionics suite, weather radar, GE’s new 1,240 shp. turboprop with FADEC and single-lever power and propeller control, and an all-new 105-in. diameter McCauley five-blade composite propeller. Construction will be primarily from metallic materials. First flight is planned for 2018.

The cabin will be 63 in. tall by 58 in. wide and feature a flat floor, executive-style reclining seating with USB ports at every seat that can be easily removed to carry cargo, and an optional belted aft lavatory seat. It will be accessed via a 24-in. wide by 59-in. high forward door, and the aircraft will also have a 53-in. wide by 59-in. high aft cargo door. “Space is primarily what customers want,” says Christi Tannahill, Textron Aviation SVP of Interior Design and Engineering. The SETP will be suited for owner-pilots, special mission, commuter and cargo, transport and medevac. The SETP will compete with the Daher TBM very fast turboprop and the directly comparable and highly popular nine-seat Pilatus PC-12, of which the 1,400th should be delivered this year. The single-engine turboprop market has grown about 12.5% in the last five years and that pace is likely to grow as Europe later this year allows single-engine turboprops to conduct commercial IFR operations with passengers. Now Textron Aviation would like a part of that action in addition to its ubiquitous workhorse Cessna Caravan.