03/31/2011. Remarks by Jack McKillop: "By the late 1970s, the old utility transport workhorses used in remote and/or mountainous areas with rough landing fields like the Douglas DC-3 and de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beavers and DHC-3 Otters were wearing out. The Cessna Aircraft Company of Wichita, Kansas, USA recognized this and began developing a single-engine turboprop replacement in November 1981. The aircraft, which made its first flight on December 9, 1982, was the Model 208 Caravan.
The first production Model 208 Caravan I rolled off the assembly line in August 1984 and the FAA awarded it a Approved Type Certificate (ATC) in October 1984. The Caravan I was powered by a 600 shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-114 turboprop driving a three blade variable pitch propeller and could carry up to nine passengers and a pilot or 3,000 lbs (1,361 kg) of cargo. The Caravan had a fixed landing gear but floats could also be installed for operations from water.
Federal Express (FedEx) of Memphis, Tennessee, USA, is an overnight and two-day package and envelope delivery service that has a number of regional hubs in major cities in the US. In the early 1980s, they were still using trucks to bring packages and envelopes from small cities and towns to a major hub where they would be placed on a large jet aircraft and flown to Memphis for sorting. After sorting, the packages or envelopes were placed on a jet aircraft and flown to the nearest regional hub to the recipient. If the ultimate destination was a small city or town, it would have to be carried from hub by truck.
In 1985, FedEx announced that they would purchase ten Caravans that had been modified for cargo operations and use them as feeders to take package to and from small cities and towns to major hubs. This resulted in the Model 208A Cargomaster. The interior was outfitted for cargo, the windows were eliminated and a cargo pod beneath the fuselage to could carry an additional 820 lbs (372 kg) of cargo was developed.
FedEx next asked Cessna to design a stretched version and this resulted in the Model 208B that had been stretched 4 ft (1,2 m), giving it a total cabin area of 450 cu.ft (12,7 cu.m), and was powered by a 675 shp PT6A-114A turboprop engine driving a three-bladed propeller. This model came in two versions: the Grand Caravan for passengers and the Super Cargomaster for cargo. FedEx purchased 242 Super Cargomasters for their FedEx Feeder service.
The aircraft in the photograph was built in 1989 and is used for FedEx Feeder service. All of the aircraft providing the Feeder service in Canada and the US are owned by FedEx and are leased to a company that provides the crew and operates the aircraft exclusively for FedEx. This aircraft is one of two 208Bs based at the Salisbury airport."