In The Works: Kestrel Aircraft – Kestrel

 - September 30, 2010, 6:24 AM

The Kestrel single-engine turboprop, whose developers had been seeking funding, has found new life under the leadership of Alan Klapmeier, cofounder and former chairman of Cirrus Design. Klapmeier’s new company, Kestrel Aircraft, is based in Brunswick, Maine, and plans call for an investment of more than $100 million in the program. Development, certification efforts and initial production of test program Kestrels is expected to begin in the fourth quarter. Kestrel Aircraft has signed a lease option for 170,000-sq-ft Hangar #6 at Brunswick.

The Kestrel program was insolvent when a new investor resurrected the company last year and resumed flying the prototype, which first flew as the Farnborough F1 in 2006. Prototype performance includes 350-knot top speed and 1,500-nm range. The Kestrel design dates to a partnership between Epic Aircraft parent company Aircraft Investor Resources (AIR) and Farnborough Aircraft, which were jointly developing the Epic LT (experimental) and F1 (to be certified) single-engine composite turboprops. The F1/Kestrel’s fuselage is 27 percent larger than the Epic LT’s. Farnborough Aircraft and AIR ended up in legal disputes over costs of construction of the F1 and other issues. AIR and Epic went bankrupt earlier this year and a group of Epic builders has purchased the company’s assets.

In addition to Klapmeier, who is chairman and CEO, the Kestrel Aircraft team includes Cirrus alumni Mike Van Staagen and Steve Serfling, both former key executives on Cirrus’s long-delayed single-engine Vision jet program. Klapmeier last year tried to buy the Vision program from Cirrus and its financial backer, Arcapita, but the parties could not come to an agreement on terms.

For the business & personal jets update, see the New Business Jet Report on page 24.