July 30, 2010
One aircraft attracting a lot of attention at EAA AirVenture this week is the Kestrel, a single-engine turboprop design that's been under development in the UK for a number of years. The project now has been taken over by Alan Klapmeier, one of the co-founders of Cirrus Aircraft, who left Cirrus about a year ago. Klapmeier recently announced that the project will be based in Maine and start down the long road to FAA certification. Here at Oshkosh, the Kestrel display is right next door to Epic Aircraft, which is selling a similar aircraft that has some common heritage. Adrian Norris, a spokesman for Kestrel, told AVweb that the two aircraft differ in substantial ways, and will diverge even more as Klapmeier re-evaluates and tweaks the airplane as he works toward a prototype design. In any case, the Epic aircraft is a kit, and the Kestrel will be certified.
Norris said the Kestrel is four feet longer, from nose to tail, than the Epic LT, and the cabin size is 27 percent bigger. Some changes that he expects will be made from the current proof-of-concept to the certifiable prototype are a redesign of the wing -- which currently curves across the front, and will be made straight -- and a new engine. The current engine is 1,200 hp. "It's more than we need and it's very expensive," Norris said. "We'll be looking for something slightly less powerful." He said the cockpit will be wider and the windows will be bigger, and the interior will get a thorough overhaul. No decisions have yet been made on avionics or pricing, he said. He anticipates about three years to certification, if all goes well. He said the entire program will cost about $100 million and the company is still looking to raise about $25 million of that.