It was considered inevitable among most aviation industry observers that former Cirrus CEO Alan Klapmeier would get back in the airplane business, and it was announced in Maine Friday that he will head up the company that will certify and bring to market the Kestrel turboprop single. In an announcement at Brunswick Landing (soon to be the former Naval Air Station Brunswick), Maine Gov. John Baldacci announced that Klapmeier's new venture, the Kestrel Aircraft Company, has taken an option to lease a 170,000-sq. ft. hangar built for the Navy in 2004. Baldacci said Kestrel is pouring $100 million into the development of the mostly composite aircraft and about 300 people will be hired initially.
The Kestrel has been in development in England for years and once had an association with Epic Aircraft. The Kestrel that was shown at Sun 'n Fun earlier this year resembles an Epic LT, and performance numbers (about 350 knots at up to 31,000 feet) put it in the same class as a TBM 850 and in the running against light jets like the Cessna Mustang and Embraer Phenom 100. Klapmeier is said to be excited about the project and getting back in the game after his much publicized and acrimonious departure from Cirrus at AirVenture Oshkosh last year, when his attempt to take over the Cirrus jet program fell through. Klapmeier and the Kestrel will be at AirVenture this year.