The Cessna 401 and 402 were developed to be non-pressurized twin engine piston aircraft. Their goal was to be a workhorse, useful to cargo and small commuter airlines among other users.
The Cessna 401 and 402 were developments of the Cessna 411. One goal for the Cessna 401/402 was to improve upon the very bad single engine handling of the Cessna 411. Another goal was to avoid using the somewhat expensive and maintenance prone geared engines of the Cessna 411.
Cessna 401s and 402s are powered by 300 hp (224 kW) turbocharged Continental engines with three-bladed, constant speed, fully feathering propellers. On later models cruise power was limited to 75% to reduce cabin noise. Some aircraft have a propeller synchrophaser to reduce cabin noise and vibration.
The FAA granted certification to the Cessna 401 in October 1968 and the 402 in January 1969. The original Cessna 402 was introduced in 1967. A version without the large cargo door called the Cessna 401 was produced at the same time. In 1969, the 402’s nose was stretched for added baggage space. This model was renamed the 402A. The 401 kept the original nose. In 1970, various minor changes were made. Also, optional larger fuel tanks, of 184 US gallons (700 L), became available. This model was called the 402B. By 1971, sales of the 401 had slowed to only 21 planes, so the model was discontinued.