Kestrel extends first flight schedule by one more year to 2014

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Kestrel Aircraft has extended the timing for achieving first flight and delivery of its eight-seat, single-engine turboprop by another year as it moves staff from Maine to Wisconsin.

The new schedule means first flight of the production conforming prototype is now set for 2014, two years later than originally planned, and delivery is set to follow three years later in 2017, says founder and chief executive Alan Klapmeier.

Kestrel decided earlier this year to move to Superior, Wisconsin, after promises of state funding failed to materialise in Brunswick, Maine. The engineering staff hired in Maine, however, will not fully transfer to Wisconsin for some time, Klapmeier says.

The delay is also partly driven by the availability of conforming systems, he adds. There were several such systems excluded from the design of the flight test aircraft that have become available as the date has moved back.

Meanwhile, Kestrel Aircraft continues working to improve the design from the proof-of-concept version, which the start-up acquired from Farnborough Aircraft.

Compared to the original model, the production conforming aircraft will feature a cross-section wider by 22.9cm (9in) in the back of the cabin, 10.2cm in the club seating area and 17.8cm wider in the cockpit. It will also be re-engined with the Honeywell TPE331-14 engine, which replaces the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6.

More recently, Kestrel has revealed that the design changes are also focused on improving the aircraft's low-speed and stall characteristics. The conforming version adds a much larger horizontal and vertical tail and larger-span flaps, Klapmeier says.