The Kestrel single-engine turboprop, initially developed by Farnborough Aircraft, is to be produced in the US state of Maine by a new company headed by Cirrus Design co-founder and former chief Alan Klapmeier.
Kestrel Aircraft Company (KAC) today announced it has selected Naval Air Station Brunswick, which will soon be decommissioned by the US Navy, to manufacture the Kestrel. Alan Klapmeier, who founded Cirrus in 1994 with his brother Dale and led the Minnesota-based manufacturer until he resigned last year, established KAC earlier this year.
The composite Kestrel, which can be configured with six or seven seats, first flew in 2006 but efforts by previous owners to complete certification and launch production of the aircraft have since failed. KAC says it now plans to begin efforts this autumn at its Brunswick facility to complete the development and FAA certification process as well as begin initial production.
© Farnborough Aircraft
At Brunswick Landing in Maine, KAC has agreed to lease a 15,800m2 (170,000ft2) aircraft maintenance hangar which was first constructed in 2004. KAC says its Brunswick project will involve an investment of over $100 million and is expected to create 300 jobs once the aircraft is in full production.
The Kestrel was first launched in 1998 by British entrepreneur Richard Noble and his company, Farnborough Aircraft, based at Farnborough Airport in the UK. Four years later the project and the company was purchased by Geoffrey Galley. Under Galley, the prototype aircraft was built and flew but efforts to raise funds to put the aircraft into production failed.
In 2008 the company was sold to Geoffrey’s son Anthony and his business partners. In recent months KAC was created under the leadership of Klapmeier, who will be the new company’s chief executive and chairman.
KAC says “the Kestrel breaks new ground in aircraft performance, delivering a maximum cruise speed higher than competing models, an impressively short climb time to cruise altitude at maximum weight, and the option to fly further, faster, while carrying more. No other single-engine turboprop comes close in performance and versatility.”
KAC says inside the aircraft is more spacious and luxurious than any very light jet. The aircraft is designed to “bridge the traditional gap between turboprops and substantially more expensive business jets”.
KAC plans to exhibit the aircraft at the upcoming EAA AirVenture 2010, which will be held in Oshkosh from 26 July.