March 22, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
Quest Aircraft, maker of the single-engine Kodiak turboprop, said it has entered the special-mission aircraft market under a product development agreement with Northrop Grumman.
Sandpoint, Idaho-based Quest announced that the companies will develop and market a special mission demonstration aircraft to be called the Air Claw, based on the Kodiak.
“Quest is very excited to more actively pursue the special mission aircraft market,” said Steve Zinda, Quest’s sales and marketing director, in a news release. “We see a lot of market potential in the government and military sector for the Air Claw, and are confident the aircraft will be well received.”
Zinda said the Air Claw would be suitable for missions in aircraft market segments including aerial intelligence, aerial observation, law enforcement, search and rescue, and aero-medical.
“This enterprise between two proven companies committed to technical superiority and cost performance will produce a highly capable platform that is very affordable compared to the competition,” said Bob Gamache, director of operationally responsive systems, Northrop Grumman Technical Services.
Quest was established in 2001, and began to deliver Kodiaks, which can take off in less than 1,000 feet at a 7,225-pound maximum gross weight, in 2007.
In June 2011 AOPA reported that Quest had made executive-level changes and was stepping up Kodiak production and market expansion efforts.
The turboprop is in service with charter operators, small businesses, personal owners, skydiving operations, governments, and humanitarian organizations, Quest said. The aircraft’s aluminum construction “combines superior STOL performance and high useful load. It offers proven turbine reliability with the Pratt & Whitney PT6 turbine engine, has the ability to land and take off from unimproved surfaces and is capable of working off floats without structural upgrades,” the announcement said. The aircraft can be configured to seat 10 occupants.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor.
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