|Kestrel Aircraft CEO and President Alan Klapmeier (photo by Phil Weston)
By James Wynbrandt
August 1, 2013 - Kestrel Aircraft of Superior, Wisconsin, announced here at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh yesterday that it has selected the Garmin G3000 as the launch avionics platform for the composite Kestrel Aircraft single-engine turboprop, currently in development. The Garmin G3000 is one of three touch-screen-controlled integrated flight decks for light turbine aircraft, and is designed specifically for Part 23 turbine aircraft.
Kestrel Aircraft CEO and President Alan Klapmeier said that he expects to offer an alternative avionics suite for customers because "I believe competition is essential to controlling costs." But, he added, "I expect Garmin to win a very, very large number of those competitive situations."
Klapmeier also provided a sobering assessment of the aircraft's development timetable and efforts to fund the program. "The project is clearly behind schedule, because we haven't raised the money we need or expected, and it's an unbelievably frustrating process," Klapmeier said. "I was hoping to say funding is no longer an issue," but an infusion of capital expected last week didn't materialize. "It's unlikely we'll find a single point source [of capital]. Instead we'll use a variety of funding sources" including economic development grants and strategic partners.
Klapmeier reinforced his reputation for candor when he admitted, "We hoped to deliver [the first Kestrels] in 2015 in the old scheme. That's slipped to 2016. There is no price, no performance specs, no production schedule."
Kestrel is not taking deposits for the aircraft, in part because potential customers are risk averse in today's marketplace, Klapmeier said, and due to concerns that a lackluster pre-order book could "confuse the financial world because it's not robust enough."
According to Klapmeier, bringing the Kestrel to market will require $175 million, of which $50 million has been spent thus far.