Simply the Quest

Alasdair Whyte
By Alasdair Whyte July 1, 2019 13:38

Simply the Quest

Daher, the French aerospace company, plans to expand its aircraft manufacturing footprint to the US with the acquisition of Quest Aircraft Company. Quest builds the Kodiak single-engine utility turboprop. Daher will now become the number one aircraft builder in Sandpoint, Idaho.

You may not be that familiar with Kodiak or Quest. This is partly because you are more likely to see a Kodiak in a clearing in the Amazon than at Teterboro Airport.

The Kodiak received type certification in 2008 and was designed specifically to support missionary organization operations in some of the most remote areas of the world. The slogan “no runway, no problem” described the company’s early ethos.

While the original Kodiaks could easily have been called a flying pick up truck, it has evolved into more of a luxury SUV for many Kodiak owners today. More than 270 have been built.

The Kodiak can carry up to 10 people or 1.5 tonnes of anything else you want to put in it. It can land and take-off on sand, snow, water (if you add floats), bumpy jungle strips and even tarmac. Its unique wing geometry favours short take-off and landing operations and also means that it can land on narrow runways.

As well as humanitarian and missionary flights, the aircraft is used for charter, sky diving, medical flights, cargo and back country tourist trips. Now the biggest buying group is US owners using the versatile aircraft for their own personal and corporate purposes.

It may not be the fastest aircraft (rarely the strong point of a utility single engine turboprop) with a maximum speed of 183 knots or 210 mph. But it has impressive range and can fly 1,132 nautical miles (although this takes 8.4 – long – hours). The recently introduced Kodiak Series II costs $2.15 million.

With rugged missions in mind, the Kodiak was designed to be as reliable as a knife and fork. In the unlikely event of a mechanical issue, it is designed to be repairable by a single airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic in a jungle clearing (or failing that a local blacksmith*). It is powered by a trusty Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 engine.

The Kodiak’s residual values reflect the continued interest in multi mission aircraft. In fact, no business aircraft performs anywhere near as well as a Kodiak. VREF says that a new Kodiak would have cost $1.1 million in 2007. Today, the guidebook, says you could sell it for $1.050 million. That is a fall in value of just 5.49% over 12 years. Nothing – not even the PC12 – comes close to this.

The Kodiak expands Daher’s turboprop portfolio – adding the pick-up truck/luxury SUV to its fast single-engine TBM 910 and TBM 940 (with maximum cruise of 390 mph) portfolio.

“As a powerful and manoeuvrable aircraft, used particularly for humanitarian missions to provide aid to isolated communities – the Kodiak perfectly complements our TBM product range and is fully in line with Daher’s long-term vision as a company committed to the future of aviation,” said Patrick Daher, chairman of the family-owned company.

It also gives Daher (a company that has been building aircraft since 1911) its first US aircraft manufacturing base. The French company, which is a major supplier to Airbus and other manufacturers (and a leader in composite technology) plans to introduce new technologies to Quest, but stresses that the DNA of the Kodiak will always remain.

“The technology-based know-how and long term focus of Daher is the perfect combination for Quest” said Robert Wells, CEO of Quest (and former chief exec of TAG Aviation Holdings).

Wells adds: “Our Sandpoint team is fortunate indeed to have a new parent company, with shared values for craftmanship, quality and dedication as underscored by Quest’s motto – ‘built by hand in Sandpoint, Idaho.”

Alasdair Whyte
By Alasdair Whyte July 1, 2019 13:38

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