Alan Klapmeier, company founder, chairman and CEO of Kestrel Aircraft Co., is “quite confident” that his eight-place Kestrel single-engine turboprop will raise the bar for cabin comfort, payload, range, speed and docile handling characteristics in this class of business aircraft. The Kestrel is a major rework of the 2002 Farnborough Aircraft F1 design, incorporating a 1,000 shp Honeywell TPE331-14GR turboprop in place of the F1's PWC PT6A-67A, along with a wider and longer cabin, larger windows, redesigned flight controls to reduce effort and straight leading edges for the wings.

Production conforming aircraft definition is proceeding on track, he said, with external aerodynamic loft contours now well defined, initial composite materials qualifications underway and freezing nearly half of the systems designs. Klapmeier has been talking with all major avionics suppliers and that includes Honeywell regarding its latest version of Apex. Kestrel is evaluating an electro-expulsive ice production system that would replace deice boots on wing and empennage leading edges.

The aircraft cabin will have a flat floor, except for a 2-in. drop in the cockpit floor. The wing spar carry-through structure will not intrude into the cabin. A variety of cabin configurations will be offered, including high-density seating, an executive interior and a combination passenger/freight version.

Klapmeier has assembled an impressive engineering team, attracting many colleagues with whom he worked at Cirrus Design, the firm he cofounded with his brother. He declined to disclose a certification schedule for the aircraft or specific performance numbers. But the Kestrel will be positioned in a niche between the $3.4 million TBM850 and $4.6 million Pilatus PC12NG, but priced significantly lower. It's likely that Kestrel will be able to cruise faster than 300 KTAS, fly at least 1,500 nm and routinely operate out of 3,000-ft. runways.