Textron’s Beechcraft Denali takes to the skies


Textron Aviation’s new single-engine turboprop, the Beechcraft Denali, has taken to the skies for the first time. Described by Textron as a “milestone” for the clean-sheet design, the Denali’s first flight flown last week also signifies the beginning of its flight test programme.

Ron Draper, president and CEO, Textron Aviation, said: “With its more environmentally friendly engine and largest cabin in its class, this is an aircraft that will change the landscape for high-performance single-engine turboprop aircraft. Today’s flight is just the beginning for what we anticipate will be a long list of important accomplishments as we prepare the aircraft for certification and customer deliveries.”

Piloted by senior test pilot Peter Gracey and chief test pilot Dustin Smisor, the Denali prototype, powered by GE’s Catalyst engine, took off from the firm’s west campus at Eisenhower International Airport. During the 2hr50m flight, 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 15,600 feet and attained speeds of 180 knots.

Gracey said: “From the beginning of the flight to the end, the Denali was simply flawless. It’s just a great aircraft to fly. The Catalyst engine was outstanding, and the aircraft performed to the levels we were anticipating. First flights really can’t go more smoothly than this. We are really off to an excellent start for the Denali flight test programme.”

The company is targeting certification for the Denali in 2023.