Quest wins FAA OK for Kodiak

 - July 31, 2007, 7:11 AM

Six years after opening its doors, two-and-a-half months after flying its first fully conforming aircraft and less than a month after losing company chairman Bruce Kennedy in the crash of a Cessna 182, Quest Aircraft has been awarded the type certificate for its turboprop utility single. The clean-sheet-design Kodiak is a 10-place, PT6-powered STOL aircraft that’s big on payload and short on runway requirements.

CEO Paul Schaller said the airplane was designed to meet specific needs. The airframe is able to accept floats without any additional structural changes, and given its intended purpose of supporting the niche market of mission and humanitarian work, the airplane had to be able to take off and land in short distances and carry a heavy load while doing it, Schaller said. The numbers suggest the company succeeded.

The PT6A-34’s 750 shp allows a 700-foot takeoff roll, 1,700 fpm climb at sea level, 185 knots cruise at 12,500 feet and a range of approximately 1,100 nm. With a mtow of 6,750 pounds, the airplane has a useful load of 3,450 pounds. The FAA awarded full day/night, VFR/IFR certification, as well as flight into known icing. A three-panel Garmin G1000 is standard for the $1.3 million aircraft.

Schaller said that because the aircraft was designed for the missionary and humanitarian market, the team wasn’t able simply to buy an existing type certificate and update it to meet its needs. A key design criterion, said Schaller, was that the airplane would be able to “operate from 90 percent of the airports in the world where a [Cessna] 206 could while carrying twice the load.” Maneuverability in tight spaces and prop clearance were also important.

No Plans for New Airplane
The company has supported itself from three key funding sources, said Schaller–deposits from missionary and humanitarian organizations, traditional commercial deposits and “low-interest loans from individuals and foundations that have an interest in getting this airplane into the hands that need it.” Quest has taken orders for more than 100 aircraft. Of those orders, approximately 50 percent are domestic; the remainder consist of missionary organizations in every corner of the globe.

Although Quest designed the airplane for a specific market, Schaller said the Kodiak is also a tool for business or fun for the wealthy Orvis, backcountry crowd. Around 50 percent of the orders represent this type of owner, he said.

Schaller said the company has no plans to launch a second airplane. “Where we go from here is not something we’ve spent a whole lot of time on in terms of aircraft,” he said.