The Cessna 406 Caravan II was conceived as a twin-engine development of the C208 Caravan I, but it evolved through the design process into a wholly unique passenger and cargo carrier that flew for the first time on Sept. 22, 1983. Intended from the outset for use in developing nations, where road and runway quality can be unpredictable, the F406 is valued for its reliability and rough-field capabilities.
Shortly after its design was finalized, rights to manufacture the 406 were sold to Reims Aviation, which is why the production model bears an "F406" designation, rather than Cessna's traditional "C406." The plane has room for up to 12 passengers and a maximum rated payload capacity of over 4,000 pounds. These features, combined with its relatively low cost, have made the F406 popular among African and Asian regional carriers.
The F406 has also found an unlikely popularity among European carriers. Unlike its single-engine rivals, the F406 is configured in such a way as to take advantage of European Union regulations regarding instrument-only commercial flights.
Production of the F406 remained with Reims Aviation until the company ceased operations in 2013. In 2014, ASI Innovation entered a joint venture with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China to continue production of the F406.