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Airplane maker in Sandpoint cuts 65 workers

Wed., Aug. 11, 2010, midnight

Quest Aircraft hurt as plane orders slow

Sandpoint airplane maker Quest Aircraft Co. has laid off 65 workers this week to cut costs as orders for its Kodiak planes continue to slump.

Company CEO Paul Schaller said this week’s layoffs follow earlier reductions in the workforce starting last fall.

At one time the company had more than 300 workers, producing three Kodiaks per month, Schaller said. About 155 workers are still employed at the Sandpoint firm.

It has the capacity to make two per month.

Those laid-off on Monday came from nearly every department, he added.

Quest makes the Quest Kodiak single-engine turboprop aircraft. It’s become a favorite utility aircraft for mission groups across the world. It costs just above $1 million.

Forty-two Kodiaks have been delivered to date. Of those about one-fourth were sold to mission groups. The rest went to government agencies and pilots who want an aircraft that handles well in difficult-to-reach locations.

As general aviation orders across the globe have slowed, it affects Quest directly, Schaller said.

Most customers have not been canceling orders, Schaller said. “They’re asking to be moved out a year (before taking delivery), until the economy is a little better,” said Schaller. He said there are between five and 10 customers making that request.

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