New Aircraft With A Special Mission

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Aircraft play a vital role in humanitarian efforts all over the world and now a Sandpoint, Idaho, company has not only come up with what it claims is the ideal aircraft for the purpose, it's going to be able to cover the cost of 10 percent of the planes it produces for use in aid projects. Quest Aircraft Company developed the Caravan-like Kodiak entirely on donations funneled through the various causes it will ultimately benefit. The result of the effort will something other plane-makers can dream about: a fully funded certification with no debt, no investors to satisfy and what appears to be pretty credible competition to existing bush planes. The Kodiak made its public debut with a flight from Idaho through British Columbia and the Yukon to the Alaska State Aviation Trade Show in Anchorage last week. The Kodiak seats 10 (or has room for more than 300 cubic feet of cargo, including an external pod) and is powered by a PT-6A34 turboprop with a maximum of 750 horsepower and continuous rating of 700. It's designed as a STOL aircraft for use on unimproved strips or on floats. Performance data is not listed on the company's Web site. Cost of the plane for commercial customers will be about $1 million and that will cover the construction of every tenth Kodiak, thus meeting "the challenge of providing cutting edge technology at a price humanitarian organizations can afford," says the company Web site. "This plan provides a visionary opportunity to build social capital."