Why is there a Piper Meridian at Kestrel Aircraft Co.’s exhibit at AirVenture? That’s because it is the first aircraft to be modified under the company’s new Aeroworks program, which will provide avionics and ergonomics modifications to Meridians and Cirrus aircraft.
“We want to take these existing aircraft and bring them up to Kestrel standards, with better utility and better value for our customers,” said Alan Klapmeier, chairman and CEO.
Klapmeier admits the project started when he was flying his Meridian and found things that were “frustrating” to him. “There have been huge advances in avionics and I don’t fit as well,” he said, slapping his stomach and shaking his head.
The company will install the Avidyne R9 avionics suite in the Meridian, as well as offer a number of airframe enhancements, ergonomic improvements, and speed modifications, he said. “We’re going to take everything from the seats up and replace,” he said.
The engineering required to design the modifications will also pertain to the company’s new aircraft, the six-seat Kestrel. “It will also provide us with a revenue stream,” he said. “And it keeps us in touch with the customers we think will have for the Kestrel. It’s a logical path.”
Kestrel Aeroworks will be located at the company’s Brunswick Landing, Maine, manufacturing facility, with work to commence later this year.
Meanwhile, the company has chosen the Honeywell TPE331-14GR engine to power the turboprop Kestrel.
According to Klapmeier, the Kestrel team went through a “vigorous” process to determine which engine would be best suited to power the Kestrel so it could achieve its mission to combine high cruise speed and long range, while carrying large payloads in and out of short runways. The power and efficiency of the -14GR is ideally suited to this mission, company officials said. The engine produces 1759 thermodynamic horsepower, but the Kestrel will flat rate the engine to approximately 1000 shaft horsepower to allow for better high altitude, high temperature performance.
A mockup of the Kestrel is on display at AirVenture. The plane is based on original work done by Farnborough Aircraft. Klapmeier estimates the plane will be certified in about three years. It will be manufactured in Brunswick.
The company is not taking orders for the plane yet, but is taking “expressions of interest,” Klapmeier said. “When we start taking orders, we will go to these people first,” he said.
For more information: Kestrel.aero