Mission agencies hope to replace many airplanes in their fleets with the Kodiak. The new model uses jet fuel, which is more widely available and less costly than aviation fuel. The larger airplane, designed by the Quest Aircraft Company, will also carry more cargo. Yet the plane will still land in the same size airstrips currently used by the Cessna 206 and 185, standard missionary aircraft models for many agencies. Cessna is no longer producing the 185.

New Tribes Mission aviation director of communications Jim Sims told CT the organization hopes to replace 14 of its 26 aircraft with the Kodiak in the next 10 years.

"The Kodiak is like a huge pickup truck with wings," Sims said. "This is the plane of the future as we see it."

Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) plans to begin replacing 12 of their 54 airplanes with the Kodiak in February 2007, according to director of aviation Denny Hoekstra. The technical division for Wycliffe Bible Translators, JAARS, expects to upgrade their fleet with 10 Kodiaks.

Quest plans to manufacture the Kodiak shortly after receiving anticipated Federal Aviation Administration certification in the spring, according to Julie Stone, their marketing communications and public relations director.

"Eventually, we will be building Kodiaks at the rate of one per week," Stone said, "but we will have to ramp up to that."

Quest hopes to build 12 to 13 the first year. The base price for the Kodiak is $1.11 million.

Two pilots, one of whom previously worked with MAF, launched Quest in 2001 to design and manufacture an aircraft for humanitarian organizations that serve in geographically challenging areas.

A test pilot first flew the Kodiak in October 2004. At the end of 2005, the company completed a 57,000-square-foot ...

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