Quest Aircraft brought a Kodiak single-engine turboprop equipped with the newly certified Summit interior to EAA AirVenture 2014 this week, along with another Kodiak fitted with the base Tundra interior. The Summit features a club-four layout in the cabin, with one or an optional two seats in the rear of the cabin.
The Kodiak interiors, including seats, are made by Wichita-based Millennium Concepts, which ships complete kits to Quest’s Sandpoint, Idaho factory for final installation. Millennium also manufactures the Kodiak’s all-composite interior shell, which was part of an interior redesign a little over a year ago.
“There were three goals for that redesign,” said Stephen Zinda, Quest v-p of sales and marketing. “One, to reduce some weight and, two, to make it easily manufacturable–the old interior took a lot of labor hours at the factory–and, three, to put in design features that make it serviceable in the field. You don’t have to drop out the new interior during a 100-hour or annual inspection. We moved features around so you can drop an inspection panel easily without taking lots of stuff out.”
Three interior options are now available for the Kodiak–the base Tundra for utility operations, Timberline with mid-grade features and Summit. The Timberline and Summit with the new shell are retrofittable to earlier Kodiak models. Other Summit amenities include sidewall storage pockets beside each seat, cupholders in the cabin and cockpit, two storage cabinets with a total of 2.5 cu ft of space and removable ice bins, vertical storage for maps and provisions for thermoses and bottles. Crew seats feature an improved headrest and center pedestal closeouts.
Quest has delivered 120 airplanes since it started production in 2007. Zinda wouldn’t reveal Quest’s backlog, but said, “It’s enough to keep us busy to have to make the decision to increase the line rate to 36 per year.” The current rate is slightly fewer than 2.5 finished Kodiaks per month.
Contributing to the backlog is the growing popularity of the Kodiak outside the U.S. In 2010, the aircraft was certified in about five countries and now that number is 17, “so we’re expanding as the market is expanding,” he said. The recent appointment of Setouchi Trading as the Kodiak dealer for Japan and parts of Southeast Asia will help further international sales.
Upcoming improvements to the Kodiak include an enhancement many customers had been requesting–integration of Garmin’s GFC700 autopilot with its G1000 flight deck. The GFC700 replaces the S-Tec 55; the upgrade will be retrofittable to older Kodiaks. “It’s within weeks of being done,” said Zinda. New Kodiaks will be equipped with the GFC700 shortly after certification, so the production-line switchover should take place around the beginning of the fourth quarter, he said. “Now we’re back to one package from one supplier for all the avionics.” He doesn’t expect the Kodiak’s price to climb with the new autopilot. “Our intention is not to change the price of the airplane. We believe that the installation time, manufacturing time and parts cost is relatively equivalent.”
Russia is the next country in line for foreign certification. “We believe that’s a healthy market for us,” Zinda said. “And as we place more in Africa, each country we go into we’re doing a certification. We’re working on Namibia now.”