At NBAA 2019, both Textron Aviation and GE gave program updates on the Cessna Denali, Textron on the program as a whole and GE on the progress of the Denali’s engine, the GE Catalyst. The plane will compete in the same space as the Pilatus PC12NGX, which was announced at NBAA this year.
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The Denali (or just “Denali,” take your pick) is a large-body turboprop single with a flat floor, seating for 8-11 people, a cruise speed of 285 knots, and a max range of 1,600 nm. Plans initially were for a 2019 first flight, but delays with the engine have pushed that back to next year.
GE’s Brad Mottier told Plane & Pilot that the engine program is progressing more slowly not because there have been any problems with the design but because certification standards have increased substantially—Catalyst (“The Catalyst?” We don’t know either) is the first turboprop engine to do a clean sheet certification is a turbo-dog’s age, and the FAA has established in that time, Mottier said, no fewer than eight new certification test parameters, all of which have taken more time that GE allotted for.
So with competition on the move—the PC12 NGX has essentially the same performance as Denali—the program is behind schedule. Still, with no major technical or certification hurdles remaining, it’s a good bet we’ll be reporting on the first flight of Denali next year and publishing a first pilot report sometime shortly thereafter.