Denali momentum continues as build of first full test aircraft begins
One year after unveiling a cabin mockup of its all-new high-performance single-engine turboprop at Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture Oshkosh, Textron Aviation, has made significant progress in bringing to market the Cessna Denali Manufacturing of the first full airframe test article has begun and the team has started building tooling for production. The clean-sheet Denali is being designed to meet the needs of customers and outperform its competition in capability, cabin experience, ownership costs and pilot interface. “This will be the first airplane in its class to offer a FADEC-equipped engine, which will ease pilot workload, and that’s just one of the features that will make the Cessna Denali a best-in-class aircraft,” said Brad Thress, senior vice president, Engineering. “We picked up great momentum when we debuted the Denali at last year’s Oshkosh with a great response from the marketplace, and now we’re making excellent progress in the aircraft’s development program. The team began propeller test runs and component tests with GE’s new advanced turboprop engine, and door fit checks with our 51-inch wide by 53-inch tall aft cargo door that special mission operators are going to love.” Thress said airframe design for the Cessna Denali is nearing completion and the engineering team has started to release the drawings to continue assembly of test articles and prototypes as well as detail tooling, floor assembly fixtures and assembly bond fixtures. Since the Denali was unveiled at Oshkosh last summer, the program has started fabrication of thefirst full airframe test article to be used for static and fatigue testing. Additional test articles have been completed and initiated testing, including the fuel system iron bird test article and cabin and cargo door test articles.The program is targeted to achieve first flight in 2018 and letters of intent are being accepted. “We’re seeing tremendous interest from both competing turboprop owners and piston owners looking to step up to more performance with an airplane engineered by the leaders in general aviation and backed by an extensive network of factory-direct service centers,” Thress said.