There’s a new thrust to work at Kestrel Aircraft, Alan Klapmeier’s fledgling planemaker in Brunswick, Maine.
This week Kestrel announced the selection of Honeywell Aerospace’s TPE331-14GR engine to power its composite propjet single.
Speaking to AirVenture Today (AVT) before the announcement, Klapmeier said, “It was time to make the decision.”
A veteran of Cirrus Design Corp.’s successful development of the SR20 and SR22, Kestrel’s chairman and CEO explained, “When you think of key vendor items, the engine is one of the big ones, and the one you have to decide early on, because that determines the center of gravity” as well as other critical design parameters.
While a variant of Pratt & Whitney’s PT-6 engine family was also a strong contender, Klapmeier said “[Honeywell] feels like a partner, somebody committed to the success of the program.
“In the end that was the deciding factor.”
Mike Bevans, Honeywell’s director of technical sales, business and general aviation, told AVT, “They’re looking for performance in this fast airplane. That means power at altitude, and this engine delivers about 1,000 shp at altitude efficiently and at a relatively low cost of operation.”
Target cruise speed for the Kestrel is 325 knots, a 1,300 nautical mile range, and the ability to operate from 2,500-foot runways.
The engine’s current installations include British Aerospace-built Jetstream 41 commuter aircraft, where they have proven reliable and economical in operating costs.
“This is a huge event for us,” said Bruce Baker, Honeywell’s senior staff engineer. “Alan has put his stamp on the industry with the Cirrus [as company co-founder with his brother, Dale].
“You don’t get to work with someone like Alan every day. This is the chance of a lifetime for us.”
Expanding and advancing
While development of the composite Kestrel proceeds, the company is not sitting back waiting on business, as Klapmeier unveiled Kestrel Aeroworks, a division dedicated to aftermarket upgrades for Piper PA-46T Meridians and Cirrus SR20 and SR22 aircraft.
Kestrel Aeroworks offers pilot-seat-forward upgrades featuring Avidyne’s Release 9 avionics suite—the avionics package chosen for the Kestrel—as well as more comfortable seats.
The company also unveiled a new cabin mock-up at its booth (445-448), showcasing the cabin planned for the Kestrel, one substantially roomier than the current prototype.
Eight inches wider at the aft baggage area tapering to 6 inches wider in the cockpit, the height has also been raised an inch and a half. The belly is 2 inches lower, allowing a lower positioning of the wing and removing the spar carry-through in the cabin, further enhancing its expansiveness.
Multiple cabin configurations will be available seating a maximum of eight.
“We feel really good about where we are in terms of the program in general,” Klapmeier said. “With the engine [selected], we can finish the final aerodynamics, then complete the design for the systems and the structures.”
Klapmeier estimates a “three year sort of range” for certification for the aircraft and a target price of about $2.8 million.
“It is going to be expensive, but we expect people will get a lot out of it,” Klapmeier said.