Kestrel Aircraft president and CEO Alan Klapmeier announced that Cox & Company will build the wing ice protection system for the Kestrel single-engine turboprop. Kestrel also chose Air Comm to develop the aircraft’s environmental control system (ECS).
“The Cox system is laminar flow [across the wings] and comes with a significant life-cycle advantage that means a six-year warranty is still in effect when some traditional rubber boots are beginning to wear out,” Klapmeier pointed out. Cox’s ice-protection employs the electro-mechanical expulsion deicing technique instead of rubber boots or TKS fluid panels that have been traditional alternatives.
When asked about the Kestrel turboprop’s development status, Klapmeier cracked the smile of an entrepreneur who understands the challenges of bringing a new aircraft design to market and replied, “We expect it’s about a 320-knot airplane, it’s going to cost about $3 million, it will fly about 1,300 miles and it may be ready in about three years.” He said lots of people are interested in the Kestrel, but the company is not taking deposits yet. “I'm not willing to go out and get a whole bunch of deposits that are meaningless when we don’t have all the dates in place. There’s just no upside to doing that.”
The Kestrel mockup at the show has the recently adopted straighter wing, tail moved farther back along the empennage and a larger vertical stabilizer to improve yaw controllability. The windows have also grown in size and should make the aircraft feel larger in a cabin that is 8.4 inches wider at the cockpit and five inches wider in the cabin than the original aircraft. The landing gear is also beefier, with tires about the size of those on the PC-12.
Klapmeier said that despite the angst that circulates around all aircraft builders trying to guarantee certification dates these days, “we’re feeling good about the overall performance and design of the Kestrel at this point. It’s all driven by what we think the customers want.” Building a new airplane is a “constant juggling of priorities,” Klapmeier noted. “I do believe there is a lot of room for market growth in business aviation and certainly in single-engine turboprop aircraft. This is now the airplane I’d want,” he said.