Quest Aircraft is stepping up its sales and marketing effort for the Kodiak single-engined turboprop in a bid to penetrate new niches for the high-wing aircraft - including the charter and VIP markets - and stimulate sales of the 10-seat aircraft in potentially lucrative regions across the globe.
The move comes in the wake of a large cash injection into the Sandpoint Idaho-based company by an undisclosed investor that has allowed Quest to reach out to new markets.
"We haven't really spent much on marketing and sales up until now as the orderbook for the Kodiak has remained strong," says Quest chief executive Paul Schaller. The 10-year old company has delivered 47 of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-powered aircraft to date. A quarter of the tally has gone to missionary and humanitarian organisations, while the remainder is spread across a range of utility operators and government departments - mainly in the USA.
Schaller says the investment has given Quest an opportunity to expand into new markets notably South Africa, where the Kodiak is already certificated - Brazil and Australia where validation has been applied for.
"There are significant opportunities for the Kodiak in these regions, particularly from mining companies which need to transport workers to and from remote bases that are inaccessible by land," says Schaller.
Quest is also targeting charter and corporate operators across the globe. "We are looking to develop a VIP interior called the Summit. Our existing Tundra and Timberline offerings are not suited to the executive marketplace," Schaller says.
To support the expected growth in international sales, Quest is preparing to strengthen its global sales, support and distributor network. "We plan to establish service centres and distributorships in South Africa, Brazil and Australia by the end of the year. Smaller operations will be set up in Peru and Argentina.
Schaller says: "The market is flat now, but we expect it to pick up by the end of the year and we need to be ready for it."