— a Textron Inc company based in Wichita, Kansas (the USA) — has announced that its new single-engine turboprop, the Beechcraft Denali, has taken its first flight. The company says this is a major step for the ‘clean-sheet design’ aircraft, one that begins the important flight test program that substantiates the performance expected of the Denali.
Ron Draper, Textron Aviation’s president and CEO, said: “This landmark flight is not only a significant occasion for the Denali but also a truly great moment for our employees, our suppliers and the customers who will be flying this aircraft. With its more environment-friendly engine and largest cabin in its class, this is an aircraft that will change the landscape for high-performance single-engine turboprop aircraft.”
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, undertook a 2hr 50min flight, during which 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 15,600ft and attained speeds of 180 knots.
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.
The Denali, the first aircraft powered by GE’s 1,300 shaft horsepower turboprop Catalyst engine, burns up to 20% less fuel than older turboprop technologies; it can also use sustainable aviation fuel. The aircraft is also equipped with McCauley’s new 105in-diameter composite, five-blade constant-speed propeller, which is full feathering with reversible pitch and ice protection.