The Quest Kodiak turboprop single is going upscale. Quest Aircraft is displaying an aircraft at the NBAA static display with an executive interior installed by St. Paul, Minn.-based Wipaire, a Kodiak factory-authorized service center. Quest also is soliciting design input at the show for another factory-installed executive interior offering called Summit that it plans to unveil next year. The company was recently recapitalized and plans to place increased emphasis on selling the aircraft to business operators.
“We’re trying to refine the Kodiak,” said Lynn Thomas, director of technical marketing for Quest Aircraft. “We’ve got a great utility airplane, but our customers would like more refinement.” As part of that process, the company recently developed and certified a two-zone, $39,750 optional air-conditioning system for the aircraft. “It works as well as one in a high-end automobile,” Thomas said. “Our engineers just nailed it.” Quest also certified a new cargo pod for the aircraft.
Thomas said the company is working with customers who want truly custom executive interiors while at the same time it is developing the “Summit” package executive interior option. Currently Kodiak sales are split in almost equal thirds among those buying the $1.75 million (2012 base price) aircraft for utility, pleasure and business uses, but Thomas thinks as many as 20 percent of Kodiak customers may be looking for a truly executive interior.
Quest provides two cabin seating interior options called Tundra and Timberline, supplied by Millennium Concepts, with seating for up to eight passengers. Both can quickly be swapped out to convert the aircraft back to purely cargo use. A vendor for the Summit interior has yet to be announced.
The Wipaire executive interior currently installed in the Kodiak demonstrator features six single, slide/swivel/reclining executive seats, sidewall tables, veneered cabinets, modular sidewalls with arm ledge, forward refreshment center for hot and cold beverages, premium carpet and a lavatory with electric flushing toilet and a privacy curtain. The Summit package does not include an in-flight entertainment system, but that will be offered in the future. The executive interior offering is expected to increase sales beyond the aircraft’s current customer base.
Wipaire and Quest are currently working with customers to define a final custom executive interior that will be submitted for STC approval by year’s end, according to Steve Zinda, Quest’s director of sales and marketing. Customers will be able to purchase this interior for new or used aircraft for retrofit. The company has the option of purchasing interior kits from Wipaire and installing them at its own Sandpoint, Idaho factory. Zinda said Quest’s goal is to keep the price of an executively configured Kodiak at less than $2 million. “We want to see what the final configuration is, and that will determine the price,” he said.
Based on customer feedback, Quest is contemplating a five- to six-seat cabin. A five-seat configuration “leaves a nice opening for passengers to get in and out of the cabin,” Zinda said. The Wipaire executive interior is expected to be highly optioned as not all customers want the same number of seats or want a lavatory space that cuts into luggage capacity, he explained.
Originally designed to replace piston aircraft flying humanitarian missions in remote locations, the Kodiak recently became available with Garmin GWX-68 weather radar. Standard avionics include a three-display Garmin G1000 suite with optional integrated synthetic-vision technology.
The Kodiak is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 (750 shp), cruises at 185 ktas and can carry a payload up to 3,325 pounds. At maximum takeoff weight of 7,255 pounds, the aircraft can take off in less than 1,000 feet and climb at 1,300 fpm. Range (45-minute reserve) at 12,000 feet varies from 979 nm (172 knots) to 1,113 nm (137 knots).
More than 55 Kodiaks have been delivered since 2007 and approximately 12 of those are on Wipline 7000 floats.
In September, a Kodiak demonstrator completed a two-week sales tour of Brazil concurrent with the company’s efforts to gain certification there. “There is significant interest in the airplane there based on its STOL capabilities,” Zinda said. “We feel very good about Brazil.” Zinda also said the company is actively marketing the airplane throughout the Caribbean and Central America.
Now that the company has been reorganized, Thomas predicts healthy future sales. “We have a nice backlog and we are going to be around for a long time.” Quest currently employs 160 at its Idaho factory, and all seven production positions on its assembly line are full.