Kestrel Aircraft president Alan Klapmeier best summed up the state of affairs for new turboprop builders last month: “Capital formation is broken in the United States. To do a program like this you need to find all of the different (capital) sources and put them together brick by brick. A large part is economic development assistance. It is just the state of business today.”
Turboprop customers traditionally are at the lower end of the aircraft buyer market and are more susceptible to global economic gyrations. Yet the turboprop’s unique mission capabilities–carrying large payloads from short, rough strips with good range–remain an unmatched niche. A covey of new business turboprops remains on the horizon. They promise to reinvigorate the segment with added features and capabilities thanks to more powerful engines, glass-panel avionics and composite airframe construction. But development of many of these programs remains hamstrung by a lack of investment cash. Existing companies often fare little better.