On Tuesday Cessna unveiled a new design for a small passenger and freighter aircraft, that is being called the SkyCourier and FedEx likes the new plane.
FedEx Express agreed to purchase 50 of the new delivery aircraft, adding one each month for the next four years, and holding options to acquire 50 more.
The worldwide delivery company is quickly modernizing its small planes fleet to remain ahead of its competition such as Amazon, which is trying to deliver and fly more orders as well.
FedEx operates one of the world’s largest fleets of aircraft.
However, its large freight aircraft are not able to pick-up as well as deliver in each location, so the courier company uses a network of planes that are much smaller to get its packages closer to their destination, where ground transportation can then deliver them.
With speeds that can reach 230 miles per hour, the new SkyCourier has the capacity to haul as much as 6,000 pounds of cargo up to 900 nautical miles. The range would give FedEx the ability to fly packages from Memphis, its main hub, to locations in Connecticut, New Mexico and North Dakota or as far as the Caribbean.
While it is a new design, the aircraft is not high-tech. Cessna is using engines that are long-proven and pilot controls that are non-computerized to keep the costs of development down, and the plane is able to fly without some standard features in larger planes such as retractable landing gear. That helps to save weight and allows the plane to operate in conditions that are considered more rugged.
The plane’s body is designed so it can fit three containers that are specially shaped than can slot directly into the belly of the airliner to speed airport connections up.
The plane will fly as a freighter first, but it also has a model that is designed to carry as many as 19 passengers with two crew.
This new plane will start arriving at FedEx during mid-2020. Cessna, a unit of Textron, did not respond about the sale to FedEx when a message was left to comment about the deal.
Competition is getting fiercer and fiercer in the package shipping business as Amazon using its own fleet of aircraft to deliver to certain areas while UPS, DHL and other package shippers are adding to their fleet of aircraft in an attempt to remain competitive.