Kestrel Aircraft is stumbling along on the road to developing its 320+ kt. single-engine, carbon-fiber JP10 turboprop, as the company’s president and CEO Alan Klapmeier looks for sponsors willing to invest the tens of millions needed to bring the aircraft to market. Absent Chinese or Russian investors with deep pockets, he’s finding it very tough to woo white knight venture capitalists to back his program. How tough is this task?
“It’s awful. We’re looking at all kinds of investment engineering,” says Klapmeier, referring to financing structures. So far, there are no takers except for strategic partner, which is seeking a new home for its 1,700-shp-class TPE331-14GR turboprop.
But Klapmeier is a fighter. He overcame many of the same challenges when he was head of Cirrus Aircraft. Many pundits predicted that the kit plane manufacturing entrepreneur would fail as he sought to bring the first clean-sheet, single-engine piston aircraft in decades to market more than 10 years ago. Yet, he successfully put together the financing needed to take the innovative SR-20-series aircraft through development and certification.
Ever upbeat after surviving the SR-20/22 ordeal, Klapmeier also expects to find the capital to finish development work on the JP10.
On paper—or rather on the CATIA computer screen—the JP10 looks to be an impressive performer. The eight-seat aircraft is projected to depart from a 2,500-ft. runway, climb to FL310 and fly 1,300 nm in about 4 hr. The Honeywell TPE331-14, known for high reliability and exceptional fuel efficiency, will be highly flat-rated to about 1,000 shp for takeoff and have a 5,000 hr. time before takeoff.
The JP10 will feature an electro-mechanical expulsive airframe de-icing system from Cox and Company.
Klapmeier projects that the aircraft will sell well once it is certified, because it could be the fastest single-engine civil turboprop on the market. Industry observers believe it will be priced at about $3 million, or about $600,000 more than a208 Caravan and $400,000 less than the Daher-Socata TBM850.