In The Works: Kestrel Aircraft Kestrel

 - August 29, 2011, 7:45 AM

Kestrel Aircraft selected Honeywell’s TPE331-14GR to power its all-composite single-engine turboprop. The Brunswick, Maine-based company was founded by Alan Klapmeier, co-founder of Cirrus Aircraft, to bring the former Farnborough Aircraft F1 Kestrel turboprop to market. The F1 prototype, which Kestrel now owns, is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-67A flat-rated to 1,000 shp, and it first flew on July 29, 2006. The TPE331-14GR is rated at 1,759 thermodynamic horsepower but will be flat-rated to 1,000 shp, according to Kestrel, “to allow for better high-altitude, high-temperature performance.” The TPE331-14GR is a single-shaft engine with dual centrifugal compressors, cooled turbine blades and an aluminum structure. “Making sure we had the right supplier to further progress on the design was pivotal,” Klapmeier said. “Honeywell’s commitment to the success of the Kestrel program makes it a real team member.” Klapmeier told AIN that the company still needs to raise additional funds to certify the six- to eight-seat, 350-knot Kestrel, but he is confident it will succeed. Klapmeier said previous owner Farnborough Aircraft had done “a huge amount of design work” on the airplane “with an eye toward certification,” but he acknowledged that more work needs to be done on the design in response to market demands and to facilitate manufacture. “We are going to be editing the design,” he said, “not starting over.” He estimated that $20 million to $30 million “already has been efficiently spent making progress” and said that an additional $100 million is a “ballpark” figure to get the aircraft into production.
Klapmeier would not offer specifics but said, “We still have a lot of money we have to come up with.” Part of the funding will be provided by various government entities in Maine, subject to public approval, as Kestrel moves into facilities at the former Brunswick Landing Naval Air Station, with the remainder coming from private equity.
 Klapmeier said he hopes the aircraft will cost less than a TBM850 and estimates that the company will eventually sell 35 to 50 aircraft annually.