photo: Quest Aircraft Corporation
Quest Aircraft’s CEO Paul Schaller expects to receive production certification [PC] for its $1.6-million Kodak single-engine turboprop in the next few months, he told Aviation Week at AirVenture Oshkosh 2009. The firm received FAA type certification of the 6,750 lb MTOW airplane in May 2007 and, at that point, turned its attention to working on production systems and to getting the production line “up and running”, Schaller said.
Quest produced three aircraft in the second half of 2008, three aircraft in the first 90 days of 2009 and six units in the second quarter of 2009. Once Quest has the PC, Schaller’s goal is to build three aircraft per month by the end of the year and one per week in 2010. Quest has 110+ plus orders for the aircraft, many of which are slated to be used by missionary organizations that provide relief and support in remote areas. Indeed the aircraft has been designed specifically for missionary work, having a rugged all-aluminum primary structure, robust landing gear and over-sized rolling stock, along with ample prop clearance for improved runway operations.
“It’s custom-designed to be used in some of the most remote areas of the world.” Schaller likened the aircraft to a modern-day deHavilland DHC-6 Beaver, albeit one with up to 40 percent more horsepower, a 1,000 lb increase in payload and a considerably bigger cabin. The $35- to $36-million in start-up funding needed by Quest to develop the aircraft was furnished mainly by Mission Aviation Fellowship and a dozen other missionary organizations having more than six decades of experience working in remote areas. Together with Quest, they formed the Quest Mission Team, an advisory board that dictated specifications for the Kodiak.
The missionary organizations mainly operate Cessna 185 Skywagon and Cessna 206 Stationair aircraft, among other single-engine piston aircraft. Avgas increasingly is becoming difficult to find in remotes areas of Africa, New Guinea and Borneo, plus other areas in Asia and South America, so the Quest Mission Team needed to upgrade to a turbine-powered aircraft, Schaller said. They also needed two to three times the payload capacity of a single-engine piston aircraft and the ability to operate from rough runways less than 1,000 ft long.
In return for the start-up funding, the missionary organizations will get their aircraft at cost. Every tenth production slot will be reserved for the initial investors.
What works well for mission work also is well suited to other purposes, Schaller explained. He said that the aircraft is perfect for anyone who wants to fly into the backcountry of the US or Canada, including government agencies such as the US Department of the Interior’s wildlife management division.