The Cessna 620 made its first flight on this day in aviation history.
This prototype business aircraft, powered by four piston engines was named de Cessna 620 as it is roughly twice as big as the Cessna 310. The idea behind the Cessna 620 was to design a business aircraft for up to 8 passengers. It would have all-weather capability with a pressurised and airconditioned cabin. The choice for 4 engines was made to increase redundancy. An APU was also fitted to provide air conditioning during ground operations.
The development of the aircraft started nearly 3 years before its first flight (which lasted 1 hour and 5 minutes) in September 1953.
With the rise of jet-powered aircraft, the management of Cessna came to the realisation that a lot of surplus piston-powered aircraft would flood the market shortly. When looking at the potential unit price for a Cessna 620 ($375.000 in the 1950s) the conclusion was that it would be impossible to compete with the Cessna 620 on a saturated market. Besides the availability of a large number of 2nd hand aircraft also the fact that introduction of business jets like the Lockheed JetStar (1957) and the North American Sabreliner (1958) out marketed the piston-powered Cessna 620.
Although the aircraft featured in a promotional movie for Cessna (at the cost of $25.000), to attract new engineers, there was no hope for the future of the aircraft in the market. In October 1957 the program was cancelled. The sole aircraft being built (Registered N620E with construction number 620) was sold for scrap. Rumour has it that the management of Cessna was under such heavy pressure from the shareholders for spending money on a project that had no viability, that they removed the engines from the aircraft and ran a bulldozer over the aircraft, destroying it.
A sad ending to the story of the Cessna 620, a unique aircraft.
Some specifications that are still available for the Cessna 620
Capacity: 8 passengers
Wingspan: 55 ft 0 in (16.76 m)
Wing area: 340 sq ft (32 m2)
Max takeoff weight: 13,500 lb (6,123 kg)
Powerplant: 4 × Continental GSO-526-A air-cooled flat-six engines, 350 hp (260 kW) each
Maximum speed: 282 mph (454 km/h, 245 kn)
Service ceiling: 27,500 ft (8,400 m)