FedEx, which just two weeks ago placed a launch order for ATR’s new 72-600F production freighter, today announced a fifty-unit launch order for Textron’s new Cessna SkyCourier 408, with options for another fifty.
The SkyCourier is a twin turboprop aircraft which, in passenger configuration will carry nineteen passengers, and in freighter configuration will have a payload of 2.7 tonnes. It features a large cargo door, and will be capable of accepting three LD3 containers. So, it is about twice as big (volumetrically) as the single-engine Cessna 208B (of which FedEx owns 239), but smaller than the ATR 42F (of which FedEx owns 26).
FedEx said it expects delivery of the first SkyCourier in mid-2020, with subsequent deliveries on a schedule of one aircraft per month over a four-year period.
In its announcement of the order, FedEx made the expected comments about the new feeder aircraft (both the SkyCourier and the ATR 72-600F) improving the fuel efficiency and reliability of the company’s feeder operations, but also added something very interesting when taken in light of the current worldwide pilot shortage: “Thanks to a collaborative training program we are planning, [the additions] will create a reliable pipeline of well-qualified pilot applicants for FedEx Express pilot jobs, leveraging the experience they will gain in our feeder system.”