The new single-engine turboprop aircraft from Beechcraft, the Denali, has made its maiden flight. As well as an all-new airframe, the Denali is powered by a new engine – GE Aviation’s Catalyst.
The Beechcraft Denali was flown by senior test pilot Peter Gracey and chief test pilot Dustin Smisor.
The aircraft took off at approximately 8:20 a.m. from the company’s west campus at Eisenhower International Airport near Wichita, Kansas.
During the 2 hour 50 minute 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 a speed of 180 knots.
Take-off for the Beechcraft Denali’s first flight. Photos: Textron Aviation
“From the beginning of the flight to the end, the Denali was simply flawless,” Gracey said. “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 program.”
The Denali prototype aircraft, along with two additional flight test aircraft and three full airframe ground test aircraft, will continue tests to expand its operational goals, focusing on aircraft systems, engine, avionics and overall performance. The company is targeting certification for the Denali in 2023.
The Denali is the first aircraft powered with GE’s Catalyst engine, which is said to burn up to 20 percent less fuel than older turboprops. The 1,300 shaft horsepower (SHP)-rated turboprop engine eases pilot workload with its FADEC-equipped single-lever power and propeller control.
The aircraft has McCauley’s new 105-inch diameter composite, 5-blade, constant speed propeller, which is full feathering with reversible pitch and ice protection.
The cockpit has Garmin G3000 avionics and an integrated Garmin autothrottle as standard which interfaces with the Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) and Flight Management System (FMS) to provide easy speed control throughout all regimes of flight from takeoff to touchdown.
Textron Aviation, the aprent company of Beechcraft says the Denali’s flat-floor cabin is designed to be the largest in its segment and can easily convert between passenger and cargo configurations.
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