More than 130 Quest Kodiak 100 single-engine turboprops now are in service and the aircraft epitomizes a “build to suit” design philosophy, according to many operators contacted by BCA. Originally designed specifically for mission aviation organizations, the Kodiak 100 has earned a strong following among government, business and private aviation departments.

“It has great performance, great avionics and great handling. It’s an honest airplane, easy to load, easy to fly, easy to land on rough strips,” says Dave Rask, aviation director for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). He appreciates the aircraft’s better than 1:10 power-to-weight ratio, crisp control response and rugged construction for rough field operations. “It’s more responsive than a Cessna Caravan, but it’s also very stable,” he says.

Horizon Aero Sports, a skydiving firm that operates out of a 1,300-ft. strip north of Abbotsford, British Columbia, flies as many as 20 missions every day with up to 13 skydivers aboard. “It has great climb performance. Our average mission is 9 min. The door is almost as big as the one in our Twin Otter. We can turn it around quickly,” says Jerry Harper, direction of flight operations. “And it’s easy to maintain.”

“We bought it because it’s a better back-country airplane than a Cessna Caravan,” says Rich Sugden, M.D., owner of Teton Aviation Center in Driggs, Idaho. Dr. Sugden’s firm charters the aircraft to outdoor enthusiasts. “It’s a great short-field performer, it cruises at 170 kt., it’s reliable and it’s well built.”

The Kodiak started life as the Packer Spirit 100, in the late 1990s when Tom Hamilton, former head of Stoddard Hamilton aircraft and then lead engineer at Idaho Air Group, held a summit meeting with a diverse group of Christian missionary aviation leaders at MAF’s headquarters.

Multicolored markers in hand, Hamilton stood in front of a whiteboard and asked representatives of the MAF, JAARS (aka Jungle Aviation and Radio Service), New Tribes Mission and Air Serv International Christian nonprofit groups what they needed in their next support aircraft.

The organizations’ aviation heads said they use their aircraft to reach out to rural communities to provide medical supplies, food stuffs, equipment and educational materials. The aircraft carry doctors, medical staff, educators and translators, plus urgent care patients, nurses and emergency medical technicians.

When the meeting concluded, Hamilton had written eight goals for the new aircraft on the whiteboard:

All-aluminum airframe construction to facilitate field repairs; twice the cargo weight and volume of the workhorse Cessna 206 Skywagon.

Capability of accommodating an external belly cargo pod.

A turbine engine that used Jet-A fuel, as aviation gasoline, needed for piston-engine aircraft such as the Cessna 206, was getting hard to find. That scarcity had pushed the price of avgas to $20 per gallon in some remote areas.

Ten occupant seats to make the aircraft commercially viable, outside of missionary aviation use.

Wingspan less than 45 ft. to enable the aircraft to use the same narrow unimproved landing strips as the Cessna 206. All fuel would be stored in wet wing cells located behind the main spar to improve damage tolerance.

Lightweight footprint — tire loading per square inch would have to be no greater than that of the Cessna 206 to allow operations on soggy ground.

Positive nosewheel steering — to allow turning on slippery surfaces, such as wet clay runways.

Exceptionally docile low-speed handling.

Market research quickly quashed the Packer Spirit 100 name and the aircraft was born again as the Kodiak 100. Not long afterward, Idaho Air Group spun off the Kodiak program to Quest Aircraft, a new firm based at Sandpoint Airport in Idaho.

After the meeting with the mission aviation groups, Hamilton began detailed design, starting with the fuselage cross-section. He used the Beech King Air shape as the baseline, adding more curves to the corners and sides to increase structural rigidity, thereby reducing “oil canning” or skin drumming. While the aircraft is unpressurized, its shape and robust construction suggest that it could be modified to provide low pressurization in the future.

The interior is sufficiently wide to carry sheets of plywood, but they must be raised and supported by 4 x 4 in. lumber on the floor to hold them above the curvature of the bottom of the fuselage.

Hamilton added Brownline-style, extruded metal seat tracks to secure high-impact passenger seats with folding backs and integral lap and shoulder belts. In addition, he installed multiple cargo tie-downs along the sidewalls. The selection of Garmin’s G1000 avionics helped broaden market appeal and improve avionics reliability. Some missionary groups initially were cool about transitioning from steam gauges to glass, but most all became proponents once they had flown the aircraft and had seen the system’s capabilities.

The landing gear was designed to be especially stout — way more robust than the undercarriage of existing single-engine bush airplanes, including the Cessna 206. Repeated drop tests confirmed that the aircraft could still be safely flown after the hardest landing required for certification.

As for the wing, Ian Gilchrist of Analytical Methods Inc. designed a high-lift wing airfoil with a sawtooth leading edge and drooped outboard section to enable the aircraft to maintain full controllability at the stall. He worked with low-speed specialist Paul Robertson of Aeronautical Testing Service, who designed the control surfaces and flaps. The wing proved to have an impressive 2.7 maximum lift coefficient with flaps extended.

The result of all the forgoing is a robust utility aircraft that feels more at home on jungle strips than it does on paved runways, based upon our piloting observations. The Christian nonprofit aviation groups and others we contacted said the aircraft lives up to its billing, performing the intended mission consistently, safely, reliably and economically.

Some operators were vocal about shortcomings they’d experienced, but the company has addressed many of those issues by means of Service Bulletins, upgrades and options.

Operator Profiles

Christian missionary aviation organizations are the Kodiak’s highest profile operators. MAF, New Tribes Mission, Samaritan’s Purse, Iris Global and Summer Institute of Linguistics are among those organizations. The Kodiak 100 supports their activities at a variety of remote landing strips, including some in Oceania, South America, Africa and Alaska.

Many of those organizations have equipped their aircraft with optional oversized tires to provide more buoyancy when operating off of soggy landing strips. The aircraft’s relatively short 45-ft. wingspan, 38 to 46 KIAS full flap stall speeds, 19-in. prop clearance and sharply upswept aft fuselage also make it well-suited for rough field operations. Assuming sea level, standard day conditions, the aircraft needs only 1,468 ft. of runway to clear a 50-ft. obstacle when departing at MTOW. At a 10,000-ft. elevation airport on a 30C day, takeoff distance over a 50-ft. obstacle is 3,949 ft.

For many of the same operational reasons, Kodiaks have found homes in northwest China with other organizations, including five aircraft being operated by XinJiang General Aviation Co., two in northeast China with Wilderness Universal Airlines based at Jiamusi, three in Quito, Ecuador, with TAME Airlines and three with Brazilian operators based near Embraer in São José dos Campos, São Paulo.

Others are based in Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and South Africa, operated by government agencies, charter companies and businesses. However, the vast majority have U.S. registrations. Many are operated by firms, such as construction companies, engineering firms and land developers, to support business operations in the field. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service, for example, operates nine Kodiaks.

Others are flown by high-net-worth individuals, some of whom who want weekend access to unimproved strips in wilderness areas.

Most operators fly short trips, using the aircraft’s short, rough field performance to full advantage. If such performance isn’t a mission prerequisite, the Cessna Caravan may be better suited to the missions, particularly because of its higher payload and larger fuselage cross-section. On trips longer than 200 to 300 nm, operators say the Pilatus PC-12, with its nearly 110-kt. speed advantage, is a better fit — again, if short, soft-field performance isn’t a requirement.

Simple Structure and Systems Design

When designing the Kodiak, Hamilton wasn’t able to take advantage of his extensive experience designing composite Glasair homebuilt airplanes at Stoddard Hamilton. Mission aviation groups told him that carbon fiber, fiberglass and other composite structures were too difficult to repair in the field. So, he minimized their usage on the Kodiak and reverted to time-proven, semi-monocoque, high-strength aluminum-alloy aero structures.

In most cases, stringers, hoop frames, ribs, spars, skins and bulkheads are attached using conventional mechanical fasteners. Certain components carrying concentrated loads — such as spar carry-through structures, landing gear and wing strut attachment fittings, along with the forward wing spar — are milled out of solid billets of aluminum on CNC machines.

The wing’s all-new, low-drag airfoil has a 16% thick chord at the root and a 12% thick chord at the tip. It features generous leading-edge droop to lower stall speeds, but not so much to create substantial drag in cruise. The outboard section has a lower angle of incidence, along with the sawtooth break in the leading edge that functions as a stall fence to delay low-speed separation and thus provide full aileron authority at stalling angle of attack (AOA).

The long-span, wide-chord trailing-edge Fowler flaps have leading-edge vortex generators, a design feature Robertson borrowed from the Boeing 767, to energize the top surface boundary layer, thereby improving high AOA performance. Robertson shaped the flaps with a generous bottom surface reflex curve to reduce wing drag in cruise when they are retracted. Maximum deflection is 35 deg.

For enhanced low-speed controllability, the empennage features a comparatively tall vertical fin and large rudder along with a horizontal stabilizer with generous span. Vortex generators atop the horizontal stabilizer improve controllability at the aft c.g. limit.

The 248-cu.-ft. cabin, including the 38-cu.-ft. aftmost section on a raised floor, can hold up to 2,600 lb. of cargo. But the spread between single-pilot BOW and maximum ZFW limits allowable payload to 2,062 lb. as shown by the accompanying specifications table. Operators say that keeping the aircraft within the aft c.g. limit is a challenge when loading to full capacity. Using the aft tail jack-stand is a must when loading because the main landing gear are positioned close to the empty aircraft’s c.g. The aircraft should be loaded from front to rear to prevent a tail-heavy condition that could cause it to sit down on its tail without the jack-stand.

If the aircraft is equipped with the optional external belly pod (190 lb.), cargo capacity is increased by 63 cu. ft. The cargo pod also moves empty c.g. forward and its forward cargo bays also help shift c.g. forward when loaded. The drag penalty with the pod installed is minimal. Plan on losing 2 kt., or less, of cruise speed, according to the AFM supplement.

The primary flight controls are manually operated using a conventional system of cables, sector pulleys and push-pull rods. The aircraft has three-axis electric trim, plus a manual elevator trim wheel on the left side of the center console. The flaps are electrically actuated, with 0 deg., 10 deg., 20 deg. and 35 deg. preselect position settings. All the control surfaces are aluminum monocoque structures.

As noted, the tricycle landing gear is designed for heavy duty. The nose gear features an air/oil oleo strut and spring bungee link that provides +/-17.5 deg. of nosewheel steering through the rudder pedals and +/-55 deg. of steering using differential braking. The main gear struts are attached to the carry-through structure with pivoting mounts. Spring and shock absorbing is provided by twin flexible tubes that bridge between the pivot mounts below the cabin floor, acting a bit like transverse leaf springs.

Optional oversized tires both improve floatation on soft surfaces and increase prop-to-ground clearance. They’re a worthwhile option for rough field operations and their added drag only decreases cruise speed by 1 or 2 kt.

Systems are simple. To begin, Quest selected the long-proven, nearly ubiquitous Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 turboprop, rated at 750 shp at takeoff, for power.

The 28-volt DC electrical system, with primary, two main, avionics auxiliary and essential buses, is supplied by a 300-amp starter/generator. A separate 40-amp alternator provides backup for the essential bus that powers the pilot’s EFIS, radios and audio panel, plus engine instruments, stall warning, panel lights and left pitot heat. One 24-volt battery or ground power can supply all buses if the starter/generator is not operating. A second 24-volt battery provides backup power to the essential bus. During the HI START engine start mode, the batteries first work in parallel and then they work in series to increase starter voltage for faster cranking. This mode is used for first flight of the day, in extreme cold weather ground starts or to facilitate restart in flight. It results in lower engine start temperatures and less internal stress.

All fuel is contained in left and right wet wing tanks between the forward and aft spars. The location aft of the forward spar provides tolerance to damage of the wing’s leading edge without incurring a tank puncture. Inboard and outboard capacitance probes measure fuel quantity. But there is no temperature compensation feature, so actual fuel weight can vary significantly from indicated fuel weight with temperature fluctuations. Each tank also has an underwing magnetic fuel gauge that measures fuel quantity up to 500 lb. And calibrated dipsticks can be inserted through the fuel filler necks to measure fuel quantity up to the 1,089 lb. maximum. Fuel flows by gravity through left and right tank shutoff valves to a sump tank in the bottom of the fuselage. If both shutoff valves are closed, a red warning annunciator appears on the EICAS.

From the sump tank, a jet pump, powered by high-pressure motive flow supplied by the engine-driven fuel pump, supplies low-pressure fuel to the engine. A DC boost pump in the sump tanks provides positive fuel pressure for engine starting and acts as a backup for the jet pump. We noted that it’s easy to change the DC boost pump as the sump tank may be isolated from the rest of the fuel system by closing shutoff valves. The sump then can be emptied into a 5-gal. bucket below the airplane. An access panel in the cabin floor provides ready access to the sump tank and DC fuel pump.

In the event of an engine fire or overheat, a fuel firewall shutoff valve may be actuated from the cockpit.

The aircraft’s only incandescent lights are the taxi lights. All other exterior lights are long-life LEDs, except for the 750,000 candlepower xenon HID landing lights in the wing leading edges.

The standard environmental control system consists of bleed air heating and defrosting and aft cabin electric heat, augmented by a forced air ventilation system that supplies 12 overhead eyeball vents and floor vents. Automatic temperature control is provided. A fully integrated, optional vapor cycle air-conditioner is available, featuring forward and aft evaporators. The compressor is engine driven. The heater and air conditioner are automatically activated and modulated by the environmental control system with two-zone temperature control. Notably, the vapor cycle system adds 80 lb. to aircraft empty weight and shifts the empty c.g. aft, adding to an already tail-heavy aircraft.

A two-place oxygen system is standard, with two crew masks having integral microphones and a 50-cu.-ft., spun composite, 1,850-psi oxygen bottle mounted behind the aft cabin bulkhead. A 10-place oxygen system (15 to 20 lb. added weight) is available as an option, providing an additional eight masks for passengers and being fed by a 115-cu.-ft. bottle.

For flight into known icing (FIKI), an optional TKS system provides 40 to 160 min. of anti-ice protection for the wing and empennage leading edges, windshield and prop, depending upon selected flow rate. The TKS system adds 60 lb. to aircraft weight when empty. A dual redundant inertial particle separator protects the engine from ice ingestion, as well as foreign objects during ground operations.

The 16.0-gal. TKS reservoir (+147 lb. when full), complete with DC-powered internal pumps, mounts to the seat tracks in the cabin and some operators say it’s an obstacle inside the aircraft. Quest officials, though, note that the reservoir assembly can be quickly removed from the cabin when it’s not needed for cold weather operations. Moreover, for aircraft equipped with the belly baggage pod, the TKS tank may be mounted inside the pod’s forward compartment, thereby eliminating its intrusion into the main cabin.

Five Best and Worst Features

Most operators we contacted frequently operate at remote, unpaved facilities. Topping their list of five favorite features is the Kodiak’s short-field and climb performance. “It’s like a Cessna 206 on steroids,” says Bill Burr, who flies serial number 16.

Using flaps 20 deg. and maximum takeoff torque, for instance, the Kodiak will lift off in 1,029 ft. at MTOW and clear a 50-ft. obstacle in 1,613 ft., assuming standard-day conditions and a hard-surfaced runway. Those distances are increased when operating off grass, gravel or dirt strips.

Ground handling qualities, particularly the long travel, soft ride, rugged main landing gear suspension, earned high praise. Operators also appreciate the large aft cargo door, large cockpit and side windows and optional, after-market single-point pressure refueling system.

They said the aircraft is exceptionally rugged, easy to maintain and repair, and impressively forgiving when pilots erroneously enter the low-speed regime. Plus, they say, it’s stable, easy to fly and responsive.

They also like the fully integrated Garmin G1000 system, even though some experienced a bit of a steep learning curve making the transition from analog-gauge-equipped piston singles.

While they report no significant problems with the aircraft, several operators say it’s too easy to make sit on its tail when loading. If the tail stand is not used and the aircraft smacks down on its tail, the result can be major structural damage resulting in lengthy and costly repairs to aft fuselage bulkheads, stringers and skins, plus tail strake fins.

Windshield mounting problems topped the list of operators’ dislikes. Several said that rough field operations caused the transparencies to shake loose of their adhesive bondings in the frames.

Heavy, high-speed roll control force due to lack of aileron servo or spring tabs, large pitch moment changes with flap movement, slow electric pitch trim speed and poor cabin heat distribution frequently were listed as shortcomings as well. Some operators also report fuel quantity calibration issues, with one operator saying he nearly ran out of fuel returning to Fairbanks, Alaska, from a wilderness airport.

Quest now has issued Service Bulletins to correct virtually all perceived deficiencies. SB 11-14, for instance, mandates inspections of the windshield molding and bonding for the first 54 production aircraft. For the first 76 aircraft, SB 12-08 provides a means of mechanically securing the windshield with fasteners and applying improved frame sealant. Later models incorporate improved windshield bonding that permanently corrects the debonding problem. The upgrade at s.n. 130 to a fully integrated Garmin G1000 avionics package, with GFC 700 digital flight control system, provides a flap/trim interconnect function that reduces pitch moment changes with flap movement.

A one-time fuel quantity calibration procedure also is applicable to the first 54 aircraft. Operators also say that the fuel quantity system needs periodic recalibration to assure that fuel quantity indications coincide with actual fuel quantity.

Operators of the first 93 aircraft also report occasional wear and leaking problems with the nosewheel oleo strut assembly. SB 13-03 addresses those issues for the first 93 aircraft.

Quest Aircraft earned high marks for responsive and caring technical product support. Parts availability is improving, but it’s not yet on a par with Textron Aviation, they say.

Flying Impressions

With all that in mind, it was time for us to fly the aircraft to evaluate firsthand its capabilities. We climbed into the left seat of s.n. 145, accompanied by Quest Aircraft chief pilot Kenny Stidham. The aircraft eventually will be equipped with Aerocet floats and be operated by Setouchi Trading, Quest’s Japanese parent, in support of its luxury resort properties in the western Pacific.

Equipped with TKS, an external cargo compartment, vapor-cycle air-conditioning, weather radar and Timberline Interior upgrade, the aircraft’s single pilot BOW was 4,257 lb., or 29 lb. more than an aircraft with standard BCA equipment as listed in the May 2015 Purchase Planning Handbook. With the two of us aboard and miscellaneous supplies, zero fuel weight was 4,657 lb. Ramp weight was 5,657 lb. with 1,000 lb. of fuel in the tanks.

Using flaps 20 deg. and based upon Sandpoint Airport’s (SZT) 2,129-ft. elevation, 29.76 in. Hg altimeter setting and 30C OAT, computed takeoff distance over a 50-ft. obstacle was approximately 1,150 ft.

We switched on the aux fuel pump and then selected HI START to crank the engine. This activated the starter and the ignition. At 14% NG (gas generator rpm), we moved the condition lever to low idle and monitored start indications. When engine idle stabilized at 52% NG, we switched off the starter, moved the aux boost pump switch to standby and turned on the generator and alternator. Switching on the air-conditioning, the cabin cooled quickly.

The aircraft was easy to taxi. Nosewheel steering through the rudder pedals was positive and braking action smooth. We taxied to Runway 19, advised traffic in the area of our intentions, set the condition lever to high idle, prop to max rpm and began takeoff roll. We had to be careful not to exceed ITT limits on the warm day, as the engine has slim flat-rating margins.

Still, initial acceleration was brisk. We rotated at 60 KIAS. Initial climb performance, at 1,500 fpm, was impressive in spite of the relatively high density altitude. Passing through 85 KIAS, we retracted the flaps to 10 deg. and fully retracted them when we accelerated through 95 KIAS. Notably, the Garmin system’s automatic pitch trim/flap compensation reduces most of the changes in pitch moment with changes in flap position. Operators told BCA that such pitch moment transients in aircraft with S-TEC 55X autopilot systems that lacked the compensation function added to pilot workload.

We settled into a 110 KIAS climb and headed for the north end of Lake Pend Oreille for airwork. Steep turns are a snap in this aircraft because the G1000 PFDs have flight path markers that show the trajectory of the aircraft. Keep the FPM on the horizon line and the altimeter almost freezes in position.

Stalls are non-events in the aircraft. There is hefty change in pitch force as airspeed decreases, so it’s tough to force the aircraft into a stall without knowing what’s coming. At 5,500-lb. aircraft weight, we performed full stalls in the clean (53 KIAS) and flaps 35 deg. (40 KIAS) configuration. Even when holding the yoke fully aft with strong back pressure, the aircraft remains fully controllable with the ailerons. The biggest drama, while maneuvering at high AOA, is having to listen to the continuous yelping of the stall warning horn.

We recovered from the low-speed demonstrations and headed south to Coeur d’Alene Airport — Pappy Boyington Field (COE) to fly the RNAV (GPS) Runway 06 approach, followed by pattern work.

En route, we set 2,000 rpm and maximum continuous ITT for a cruise performance check at 8,500 ft. with a 15C OAT. At a weight of 5,500 lb. and at maximum continuous ITT, we recorded cruise speeds of 170 to 172 KTAS while consuming fuel at 325 lb./hr.

We coupled the autopilot so that Stidham could demonstrate the low-speed protection function built into the system. We gradually reduced power and allowed the aircraft to decelerate to stall warning airspeed. At 80 kt., a yellow MINSPD annunciation appeared on the EICAS to alert us to the deceleration. Two knots above stall speed, a red UNDERSPEED PROTECT ACTIVE annunciation appeared on the EICAS and the autopilot pitched the nose down to maintain that speed. When we increased power, the aircraft accelerated to a safe speed and the autopilot pitched up the nose to reestablish the selected altitude.

With the autopilot off, the G1000 provides two other protection modes. One is electronic stability and protection that engages the autopilot servos and provides sufficient control authority to return the aircraft to a normal operating envelope should preset pitch or roll limits be exceeded. The other is Level Mode protection. If the pilot is hand-flying the aircraft and becomes disoriented, say while in IMC, pressing the button levels the wings and pitches it to hold altitude.

We then recoupled the autopilot and flew directly to the POBIY initial approach fix to fly the RNAV approach to Coeur d’Alene. The procedure specifies a holding pattern in lieu of procedure turn. Our approach from the northeast required a parallel entry into the holding pattern. Situational awareness is one of the G1000’s strong suits. The Garmin system drew out the required maneuver on the MFD and the autopilot flew the parallel entry without a hitch.

We then let the autopilot fly most of the procedure to the airport. Approaching the airport, though, we noted that traffic was using Runway 20 and Runway 24, so we broke off the approach and entered the VFR traffic pattern.

We eased into the pattern with other light aircraft, extending flaps to full on final and flying at the recommended 80 to 85 KIAS approach speed. Approaching the runway, we gradually reduced power, flared, waited. And then bounced.

Make a note: It’s all too easy to land this aircraft too fast because of the heavy pitch force change with deceleration.

Subsequent landings were better as we used considerably more back pressure to hold the wheels off until nose pitch had reached about 10 deg. But most touchdowns on pavement still were unflattering.

We departed Coeur d’Alene and headed east to Magee Airport (S77), a 2,400-ft. grass strip at 3,002-ft. elevation that’s located in a mountain valley. We approached from the north, spotted the airport, extended the flaps to 35 deg., slowed to 75 KIAS and trimmed out control pressures. As we approached the runway end, we chopped the power, flared until the nose was 10-deg. up and settled into the grass, which felt like a wet hay cushion. The long-travel tube spring main landing gear suspension sopped up Magee’s bumps and ruts with ease. Using light reverse thrust, the aircraft stopped midway down the runway. Clearly, the Kodiak is more at home on grass than on pavement, in our opinion.

We taxied back for takeoff, set flaps 20 deg. and commenced takeoff roll. The aircraft was off the turf in 1,000 ft. and quickly climbed above the surrounding trees and terrain.

Our next landing would be at Cavanaugh Bay Airport (66S), a 3,100-ft. manicured grass strip at 2,484-ft. elevation on the southeast side of Priest Lake. Cavanaugh’s relatively long runway, clear approach over the bay and lack of obstacles on the shoreline end made it seem like a major international airport compared to Magee. Again we flew 75 KIAS, held off the nose and settled into the grass with a pleasingly soft touchdown. We taxied back to the approach end and secured the aircraft for a lunch break at Cavanaugh’s Resort on the bay.

After lunch, we taxied to the far south, uphill end of the strip for takeoff to the north, toward Cavanaugh Bay. Once again, the aircraft broke ground in less than 1,000 ft. We passed through 4,000 ft. MSL as the aircraft reached the shoreline and climbed to 7,500 ft. to cross 6,195-ft.-high Bald Mountain, just northeast of Sandpoint.

Over the peak, we elected to perform a simulated engine-out descent, approach and landing. We reduced power, feathered the prop and established a 95 KIAS glide speed. The AFM recommended 97 KIAS, but aircraft weight was only 5,300 lb. rather than MTOW so we flew a touch slower. Stidham noted that the aircraft will glide 2 nm for every 1,000 ft. of altitude, so potentially we could fly without power for more than 10 nm before reaching the surface.

We glided the aircraft to a downwind leg at Sandpoint, turned a short base leg for Runway 19 and extended full flaps when landing was assured. The aircraft slowed to landing speed and we touched down one-third of the distance down the runway. We turned off at a midfield taxiway and then unfeathered the prop so that we could taxi back to Quest’s ramp.

Our conclusions? The Kodiak 100 is an impressively capable niche airplane that provides utility transportation to and from some of the unimproved landing facilities that some other single-engine turboprops may not be able to use.

Wrap It Up

Operators confirmed our findings. They say that the Kodiak 100 can carry more payload to and from shorter strips with rougher runways and more daunting obstacles than virtually any other single-turbine utility aircraft.

“It has the engine reliability of a PT6A, no fancy-Dan systems and great short-field performance that gets you into and out of nickel-and-dime runways. It’s well engineered, well manufactured and well documented. This is no high heels and short skirts airplane. It’ll do everything but sweep the floor and do the dishes,” says Skip Giles, who manages several Kodiak 100s and instructs new owner pilots. “There is no safer single-engine airplane. It’s a Super Cub on Viagra.”

After years of fiscal challenge, Quest Aircraft, as a company, finally has the long-term financial stability to carry through with its long-term plans. That’s because early this year it was acquired by Setouchi Trading, a member of Tsuneishi Group, a Japanese conglomerate with a strong, solid foundation in the shipbuilding, transportation and related manufacturing industries. Tsuneishi has the means to provide Quest with the resources to both weather economic swings and develop new models.

For all those reasons, the Kodiak 100 promises to remain in production for many years to come. Quest is currently building two units per month, with plans to increase to three aircraft per month. If follow-on models provide the same blend of performance, simplicity, ruggedness and factory support, Quest has the potential to become a major manufacturer of turbine-engine utility aircraft. BCA

Quest Kodiak 100 Specifications

B&CA Equipped Price    $1,960,125



Wing Loading    30.2

Power Loading    8.70

Noise (EPNdB)    84.4


Seating    1+5/9



Length    15.8/4.8

Height    4.8/1.5

Width    4.5/4.4



Engine    PWC PT6A-34


Rating OAT°C    750 shp/ISA+7C

TBO    4,000 hr.


Max Ramp    7,305/3,314

>Max Takeoff    7,255/3,291

Max Landing    6,900/3,035

Zero Fuel    6,490/2,944cc

BOW    4,428/2,009

Max Payload    2,062/935

Useful Load    2,877/1,305

Executive Payload    1,000/454

Max Fuel    2,144/973

Payload with Max Fuel    733/332

Fuel with Max Payload    815/370

Fuel with Executive Payload    1,877/851    



Vmo    180



Time to 10,000 ft.    9 min.

Climb rate (fpm)    1,340 fpm/408 mpm 

Climb gradient (ft./nm)    915 ft/nm 102 m/nm


Ceilings (ft./m)

Certificated    31,000/9,449

Service    31,000/9,449

>Sea Level Cabin    NA/NA


Certification    FAR Part 23/FAR Part 23