Our many RAF supporters have such vast and varied experience, and we’re capturing some of their words of wisdom to share with you. This month’s guest editorial is by Nicolas Chabbert, the Senior Vice President of Daher’s Aircraft Division and CEO of DAHER Aircraft, Inc and Kodiak Aircraft, Inc.
As the world’s oldest airplane manufacturer in continuous production today – and a family-owned company – it’s no surprise that Daher is proud to be a supporter of the Recreational Aviation Foundation. We share a common vision of conserving and maintaining backcountry airstrips, which is best summarized by the motto: “Daher cares for those who care for aviation.”
Building on this strong “aviator DNA,” we have actively backed the RAF for many years, being even more uniquely positioned as a Foundation supporter since our company’s 2019 acquisition of the Kodiak aircraft product line.
The Kodiak is truly at home in the backcountry, based on its roots as a rugged STOL airplane that was developed for humanitarian missions into some of the world’s most remote and challenging locations. The cornerstone Kodiak 100 version is a common sight at backcountry strips, and we launched the larger, faster Kodiak 900 version in 2022 as the next step in Daher’s approach to the continual improvement of our turboprop-powered airplane families.
With the Kodiak now fully integrated into Daher’s aircraft portfolio, we’ve stepped up our contributions to the RAF’s goals. Earlier this year, we provided a Kodiak 900 to assist U.S. Forest Service personnel in accessing two isolated grass strips in the mountains of southeastern Idaho. Pilots and employees from our Kodiak Aircraft Company joined with the USFS for the airlift of building materials and support equipment to Moose Creek (1U1) and Shearer (2U5), utilizing the Kodiak 900 prototype.
These two isolated and unimproved strips are very difficult to reach, with high mountains and the nearest roads being more than 19 miles away – normally requiring pack animals for resupply of any kind. In the past, USFS rangers were based at the locations, but years of budget constraints creates challenges for the government agency in maintaining and supporting its sites. Using the Kodiak 900’s superior cabin size and excellent cargo-carrying capability, the USFS was able to accomplish maintenance for these airstrips and their structures, along with other support duties.
For me, the flights into Moose Creek and Shearer are perfect examples of what the RAF and its network of supporters can do to meet the Foundation’s goal of preserving backcountry airstrips and highlighting their true value as a national resource. This also is why we chose to highlight the RAF on Daher’s exhibit stand during EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh, Wisconsin – positioning a Kodiak 100 with the Foundation’s logos next to a high-vis RAF tent, becoming a center of attraction for some of the 677,000 attendees at the 2023 annual fly-in.
Another important action that Daher supported this year was the delivery of critical care defibrillators to backcountry strips across the state of Idaho. In coordination with the Backcountry Aviation Defibrillator Project, we provided two Kodiak 100s – along with pilots, fuel and logistics assistance – to deploy the automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at four airstrips, with one of the AED units sponsored by Daher.
The Kodiak’s exceptional STOL characteristics were demonstrated once again during these flights, performed to Cavanaugh Bay (66S) in northern Idaho – which is not far from Daher’s Kodiak production facility and final assembly line at Sandpoint; to Big Creek (U60) and Johnson Creek (3U2) in the state’s central portion; and to Smiley Creek (U87) in south-central Idaho.
These missions help fulfill the Backcountry Aviation Defibrillator Project’s goal of positioning AEDs at high-traffic remote airstrips by deploying ZOLL 3 units that communicate via Wi-Fi to display their operational status. It enables the transmission of vital data in critical situations when seconds can literally make a life-saving difference. In the future, the defibrillators are expected to broadcast their availability and status using flight planning applications. The AEDs are acquired through donations to The Gem State Aviation Fund, a 501(c) (3) corporation that promotes aviation-related charitable and educational activities, primarily within the state of Idaho.
Daher truly values its relationships with organizations such as the RAF and the Backcountry Aviation Defibrillator Project, living up to our commitment in “caring for those who care for aviation.”
Nicolas Chabbert is an accomplished aviation professional with 31 years of experience in the general aviation sector, as well as hands-on expertise as an aircraft and balloon pilot. In addition to his management responsibilities, he is actively involved in several aerospace associations, and served as Chairman of the European General Aviation Manufacturers Association (ASD-EGAMA) for five years. In 2021, Chabbert was the first European Chairman for GAMA, the powerful General Aviation Manufacturers Association in DC, after 3 years serving as Aviation & Safety Committee chair for the association. Click here to read his full bio.
Submitted on November 30, 2023.