Start-up Kestrel Aircraft has selected the Honeywell TPE331 turboprop to power a future six-seat, single-engine business aircraft in a move that signals a new departure from its current prototype model.

Selecting the 1,000shp TPE331-14 means the business aircraft will be slightly less powerful than the five-year-old prototype, which is powered by the 1,200shp PT6-67A engine.

The Honeywell engine, however, "easily met our mission and horsepower requirements and will, in turn, provide our customers with a very exciting, new and innovative aircraft", Alan Klapmeier, chief executive of Kestrel Aircraft, said.

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Despite being rated at less overall shaft horsepower than the PT6A, Honeywell described the single-spool TPE331 as delivering a higher maximum cruise speed than "competing models".

"The TPE331 is a pilots' engine that provides instant power response, simple starting and control for reduced pilot workload," Ron Rich, Honeywell vice-president of marketing and product management for propulsion systems, said.

The Kestrel aircraft design is derived from the Farnborough Aircraft Corp F1C3 prototype manufactured in 2006.

After leaving Cirrus in 2009, Klapmeier acquired the rights to the Farnborough model and launched Kestrel in Brunswick, Maine.

Klapmeier has previously announced plans to unveil a new prototype at the NBAA convention this year. A schedule for certification has not been announced, but Klapmeier has said his "wild guess" is a three-year programme after the new prototype is finished.

Source: Flight International