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Sandpoint aircraft maker and Spokane flight center share training resources

Sat., Feb. 26, 2011, 12:30 a.m.

Sandpoint-based Quest Aircraft has formed a partnership with Spokane Turbine Center, a nonprofit, church-supported training center for mission aviators.

Quest will now use Spokane Turbine Center’s million-dollar flight simulator and its Quest Kodiak airplane as a training base for customers buying one of the single-engine aircraft. The training center is next to Felts Field in Spokane Valley.

That option allows Quest’s customers to train in Spokane when conditions are inclement in Sandpoint, said Paul Schaller, Quest Aircraft president.

“The simulator also lets pilots go through ‘engine-out’ conditions in a way they cannot when actually flying the aircraft,” Schaller noted.

In return, Quest’s factory-trained mechanic-instructor in Spokane will help STC provide a full scope of technical training to the mission pilots coming to Spokane before leaving on assignments worldwide, Schaller said.

Many mission groups have bought or already are flying the Quest Kodiak because the plane can fly into difficult terrain and uses jet fuel, which is more widely available than aviation fuel.

The agreement is one step between the two groups to reduce costs during a business downturn when few companies or organizations are buying new aircraft.

Spokane Turbine has two full-time workers, with others on staff subsidized by church organizations.

Quest Aircraft has roughly 120 workers in Sandpoint. It faced a challenging year in 2010, making just 14 aircraft – about one-third the number Schaller hoped to sell.

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