FedEx Express (FedEx), a subsidiary of FedEx Corporation, has announced it has entered into a purchase agreement with Textron Aviation, Inc., a Textron Inc. company, that will continue the modernization of the company’s fleet of feeder aircraft.
FedEx Express has agreed to purchase 50 clean-sheet design Cessna SkyCourier 408 aircraft, with options to purchase up to 50 additional aircraft. Delivery of the first aircraft is expected in mid-2020, with subsequent deliveries on a schedule of one aircraft per month over a four-year period.
Cessna SkyCourier 408 key features:
- twin-engine, high-wing turboprop
- digital cockpit
- aft Large Cargo Door (LCD)
- flat floor cabin equipped to handle up to three LD3 containers and a 6,000 lb. maximum payload
The Cessna SkyCourier 408 will be assembled by Textron Aviation in Wichita, Kansas. The twin-engine, high-wing turboprop has almost twice the volumetric capacity of the single engine Cessna Caravan 208 currently in the FedEx Express feeder fleet. Unlike FedEx’s current feeder aircraft, the aircraft has a large 87” x 69” cargo door, which will support container and pallet operations. The large cargo doors will help FedEx to provide even faster service to air freight customers who ship to or from smaller markets in its network.
Earlier this month, FedEx announced the purchase of 30 ATR 72-600F aircraft with the option to purchase up to 20 more as a first step to modernizing the company’s feeder fleet. “These aircraft purchases are part of our long-term feeder fleet strategy,” said Greg Hall, Executive Vice President of Air Operations, FedEx Express. “That strategy will not only improve our fuel efficiency and fleet reliability, but thanks to a collaborative training program we are planning, 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.”
The FedEx Express Feeder network is a strategic component of the overall global linehaul network, serving markets too small for direct FedEx Express air linehaul service and markets where FedEx Express does not have operating rights. The Feeder network is composed of more than 300 aircraft serving 45 countries. Most of these feeder aircraft are owned by FedEx and are leased and operated by different third-party air carriers under their own operating certificates. The FedEx feeder fleet is comprised of aircraft under 60,000 pounds maximum gross take-off weight, and allows the company to provide fast, economical service to small and medium-sized markets around the world.
The Cessna SkyCourier 408 will be offered in cargo and passenger variants. The cargo variant will feature a large cargo door and a flat floor cabin that is sized to handle up to three LD3 shipping containers with an impressive 6,000 pounds of maximum payload capability. The aircraft will also afford a maximum cruise speed of up to 200 ktas and a 900 nautical-mile maximum range.
The efficient 19-passenger variant will include crew and passenger doors for smooth boarding, as well as large cabin windows for great natural light and views. Both configurations will offer single-point pressure refueling to enable faster turnarounds.
The Cessna Caravan platform has set the standard in the single-engine utility category for decades. The Cessna SkyCourier will build on that proven success in the large-utility category, offering even greater capability and mission flexibility.