Quest Kodiak

Quest Kodiak II

The Quest Kodiak is a niche single-engine turboprop designed to get in and out of tight spots under harsh conditions. Legendary kit-plane designer Tom Hamilton originally envisioned the aircraft during the late 1990s to meet the needs of missionaries flying relief in Africa and Asia. For decades, those organizations had relied on iconic but aging bush planes with piston engines, such as the Cessna 206, de Havilland Beaver, and Helio Courier, but the aviation fuel those aircraft required was becoming increasingly difficult to obtain outside the U.S. at anything that remotely resembled a reasonable price. Meanwhile, the jet-A fuel used in turbine helicopters, turboprops, and jets is globally ubiquitous. 

In Idaho in 2001, Quest began developing the Kodiak, which gained FAA certification in 2007. Since then, more than 265 have been delivered. The company has hit a few financial rough patches along the way and is today owned by Setouchi Holdings of Japan, although the aircraft continues to be manufactured in Sandpoint, Idaho. 

An affiliate of Setouchi, Sky Trek, has ordered 20 Kodiaks to provide executive and charter service in Japan. In 2017, India’s SpiceJet signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at acquiring 100 Kodiaks on amphibious floats to provide air transport to underserved markets in that country. 

Pilot Report: Quest Kodiak

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Pilot Report: Quest Kodiak

Brings solid feel and sure handling to utility role.

Quest has made numerous improvements to the aircraft over the years, such as upgrading the avionics and offering a wider array of interior options—from spartan to executive. But the basic aircraft remains the same: a 45-foot-long high wing mated to a rugged aluminum fuselage with a large 54-by-57-inch rear cargo door, heavy duty and high-riding fixed landing gear, a time-tested Pratt & Whitney PT6A-34 series stuffed in the nose, and Garmin’s G1000 series glass-panel avionics in the cockpit. 

Quest Kodiak II cockpit

The combination produced an almost-go-anywhere aircraft with a really low stall speed of just 60 knots (flaps down), enabling it to use runways as short as 1,200 feet and stop in less than half that distance with reverse thrust. The Kodiak has a maximum cruise speed of 183 knots, seating for nine passengers and one pilot, 248 cubic feet of cargo space without the passengers, and an endurance of close to 10 hours when you pull the power back to 95 knots. At 174 knots, the airplane will get you about 1,000 nautical miles of range. It can be mounted on aluminum or fiberglass straight or amphibious floats. 

Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has been operating Kodiaks in some of the world’s harshest conditions, primarily in Indonesia, since 2009 and will soon take delivery of its 13th. Its fleet has amassed 32,000 hours of flight time in the aircraft, and its highest-time airframe has more than 5,000 hours. MAF routinely flies each of its Kodiaks 500 hours or more annually. “It really shines on the shorter airstrips,” says MAF CEO David Holsten, who has spent years in the aircraft. 

“It’s infinitely better in those situations than a Cessna Caravan, and its time to climb is shorter than a legacy Caravan’s,” Holsten adds. “The landing gear is particularly rugged, and we put it to the test. We routinely carry payloads of 1,400 pounds, a big increase over the piston aircraft we used to fly on those missions. With the Kodiak, we can do more and do it faster and safer.”

The latter attribute, he notes, derives from Quest’s decision to equip the Kodiak with key components—landing gear, brakes, engine, propeller, and avionics—that have a long and reliable history from established manufacturers. Holsten says the Garmin G1000 avionics are particularly effective when operating in areas with little air traffic control, virtually no radar coverage, and suspect navigation charts in places where visibility is frequently compromised. “The situational awareness was a big gain for us,” he says, adding that the G1000 is equipped with synthetic vision, a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS), and autopilot capability. 

Like any new airplane design, the Kodiak had its share of initial problems, Holsten says, calling out the fit and finish, door seals, and windshields on early-serial-number aircraft MAF operated. But Holsten reports that those issues have been addressed over time. He also admits that MAF has a tendency to put the aircraft “more to the test” than other operators. 

Quest unveiled a major block change for the Kodiak in 2018. The $2.15 million Kodiak II features the updated Garmin G1000 NXi avionics system, a redesigned cockpit, a choice of 18 new paint schemes, an improved cargo door step, better crew-door mechanisms, a quieter cabin, and improved pilot sun visors. The NXi avionics feature faster processors, which speed up data input and display and aircraft startup. Garmin GWX-70 weather radar—which offers more precise storm cell tracking and turbulence detection—is an available option.

Quest Kodiak II cabin

You can order Kodiaks with three levels of interiors. The “Summit” features a club-four configuration of four single executive seats bisected by a pair of fold-out cabin sidewall tables as well as cabinets and ice bins. Each seat has its own charging port and overhead lights, gaspers, and oxygen hookups (the Kodiak, like the Caravan, is not pressurized). The seats detach quickly, enabling the aircraft to be converted to a pure cargo hauler in minutes. Comfort-wise, they are on par with what you would find a $30,000 family grocery-getter. There is no lav.

The Kodiak will stay in the air 5.8 hours at 174 knots or 8.4 hours at 135 knots (12,000 feet cruise altitude). An optional 63-cubic-foot belly cargo pod can carry 750 pounds of additional baggage and cuts cruise speed by two to three knots. Popular options such as air conditioning, the cargo pod, the Summit interior, anti-icing protection, and extra goodies in the instrument panel can easily tack $500,000 onto the base price. Bolting on a pair of amphibious floats will add another $400,000. (Via some odd plumbing quirk, the TKS “weeping wing” anti-ice system doesn’t work with floats attached.) 

Quest Kodiak II

The Kodiak II offers initial complimentary subscriptions to a variety of vendor product-support programs, including Pratt & Whitney’s ESP engine plan. The company also provides a single point of contact for customers with any maintenance issue with the airplane. These are both good things. 

That said, this airplane won’t win any styling competitions, but that’s not why you buy it. With a Kodiak, the recreational user can fly to otherwise inaccessible but amazing places safely and reliably. For an organization like MAF, the mission is more serious. “The Kodiak is a life-saving tool,” says David Melton. “It helps people lead better lives. It saves lives.” 


2019 Quest Kodiak II at a Glance

Base Price:                                          $2.15 million 

Crew:                                                  1–2

Passengers:                                        4–9

Interior: 

            Length:                                    15.8 ft 

            Width:                                     4.8 ft 

            Height:                                    4.5 ft

Maximum Cruise Speed:                    183 kt 

Range:                                                 1,132 nm 

Service ceiling:                                   25,000 ft 

Landing distance:                               705 ft

Engine:                                                Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34A, 750 shp (takeoff), 4,000-hr time between overhauls

Avionics:                                            Garmin G1000 NXi 

Maximum takeoff weight:                  7,255 lb

Useful load:                                        3,535 lb

Fuel capacity:                                     320 gal

Note: Range is at 135 kt and 12,000 ft. Landing distance is without thrust reverse.

Source: Quest Aircraft

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