Cessna 208 Caravan and Daher Kodiak 100 Compared: Which Is Better?

Introduction

The Cessna 208 Caravan and the Daher Kodiak 100 are very similar aircraft and have long been in competition with and therefore compared to one another. So what are the differences? Why do some operators choose to fly the Cessna Caravan over the Daher Kodiak and vice versa? Which aircraft is right for you? To help you answer these questions, we have conducted a detailed nose-to-tail comparison of each aircraft. So let’s dive in.

The Aircraft

Single-engine turboprop aircraft is the perfect middle-ground for operators who want the power of a jet engine and the versatility of a propeller. This is why these aircraft are used in conditions where high payloads need to be delivered in small airports and harsh conditions that are normally not accessible by typical jet aircraft.

Two of the most famous utility single-engine turboprop aircraft are the Cessna 208 Caravan and the Daher Kodiak 100. These two aircraft are used for operations by organizations like NGOs in developing countries and by cargo operators like FedEx for short-haul flights. In fact, FedEx is the largest Cessna Caravan operator, with a fleet of over 250 aircraft. The aircraft are also favorites for float operations and can be found in coastal regions such as the Maldives being used as air taxis and ambulances.

The older and more popular of the two is the Cessna Caravan, which debuted in 1984, a full 24 years before the Daher Kodiak. Cessna has produced close to 3,000 units of the Caravan line which includes other Caravan variants such as the Grand Caravan.

Daher’s Kodiak is relatively unknown when it comes to the utility single-engine turboprop category. This is because the older and more established Caravan is the reason the Kodiak is often overlooked, and why the amount of Kodiaks produced is less than 10% of that of the Caravan. Another reason is that the aircraft has been renamed. The aircraft was initially called the Quest Kodiak, but this changed in 2019 when Daher bought out the Quest Aircraft Company.

What Are the Main Differences Between the Cessna 208 Caravan and the Daher Kodiak 100?

Both of these aircraft mirror each other, and there isn’t anything that one can do that the other can’t. It’s just that each of them edge out the other in certain categories. Some of the main differences between the two are:

Price

Daher Kodiak 100

The Cessna Caravan is cheaper than the Daher Kodiak. A 2021 Caravan retails at around $2.45 million, whereas a Kodiak of the same year costs $2.63 million.

Size

The Cessna Caravan is marginally larger than the Daher Kodiak, which allows it to haul more cargo and passengers.

Occupancy

Thanks to its larger size, the Caravan can fly a maximum of 14 passengers if required, whereas the Kodiak can only carry 10 passengers.

Power

Both aircraft are powered by Pratt & Whitney turboprop engines, but the Kodiak’s PT6A-34 puts out 750 SHP (560 kW), while the less powerful PT6A-114A which powers the Caravan produces 675 shp (503 kW).

Performance

Cessna 208

At a glance, the Daher Kodiak is a more capable aircraft than the Cessna Caravan. It can fly and climb faster, burn less fuel, travel further, and land at shorter airstrips than the Caravan. However, upon further inspection, it can only do these things because it carries less weight than the Caravan.

Cessna 208 Caravan and Daher Kodiak 100: Detailed Specifications

 

Cessna 208 Caravan

Daher Kodiak 100 Series III

Exterior Dimensions

Length

37 ft 7 in (11.5 m)

33 ft 9 in (10.41 m)

Height

14 ft 10 in (4.5 m)

14 ft 8 in (4.48 m)

Wingspan

52 ft 1 in (15.9 m)

45 ft 0 in (13.72 m)

Wing Area

279 sq ft (25.96 sq m)

240 sq ft (22 sq m)

Wheelbase

11 ft 8 in (3.56 m)

11 ft 5 in (3.48 m)

Tread

11 ft 8 in (3.56 m)

11 ft 5 in (3.48 m)

Interior Information

Length

14 ft 10 in (4.52 m)

15 ft 9 in (4.81 m)

Height

4 ft 6 in (1.37 m)

4 ft 9 in (1.46 m)

Width

5 ft 4 in (1.63 m)

4 ft 6 in (1.37)

Maximum Occupants

10 – 14

10

Baggage Capacity

Baggage Compartment Volume

31.5 cu ft (0.89 cu m)

38 cu ft (1.07 cu m)

Baggage Weight 

325 lb (147 kg)

Weights

Maximum Ramp Weight

8,035 lb (3,645 kg)

7,305 lb (3,313 kg)

Maximum Takeoff Weight

8,000 lb (3,629 kg)

7,255 lb (3,277 kg)

Maximum Landing Weight

7,800 lb (3,538 kg)

7,255 lb (3,277 kg)

Useable Fuel Weight 

2,224 lb (1,008 kg)

2,144 lb (972 kg)

Useable Fuel Volume

332 gal (1,257 l)

320 gal (1,211 l)

Basic Empty Weight

4,930 lb (2,236 kg)

3,775 lb (1,712 kg) 

Useful Load

3,105 lb (1,499 kg)

3,530 lb (1,601 kg)

Maximum Payload

2,860 lb (1,297 kg)

2,515 lb (976 kg)

Full Fuel Payload

881 lb (490 kg)

1,391 lb (630 kg)

 

Performance

Maximum Speed (Vmo)

175 KTAS (214 mph / 344 kmph)

180 KTAS (210 mph / 339 kmph)

Maximum Range

1,070 nm (1,982 km)

1,132 nm (2,096 km)

Fuel Burn @ 75%

48 gph (180 lph)

45 gph (170 lph)

Takeoff Distance

2,055 ft (626 m)

1,468 ft (447)

Takeoff Ground Roll

1,160 ft (354 m)

934 ft (285 m)

Landing Distance

1,625 ft (495 m)

1,535 ft (468 m)

Landing Ground Roll

715 ft (218 m)

765 ft (233m)

Service Ceiling

25,000 ft (7,620 m)

25,000 ft (7,620 m)

Maximum Climb Rate

1,234 fpm (376 m)

1,340 fpm (408 mpm)

Normal Speed

175 KIAS (201 mph / 324 kmph)

174 KIAS (200 mph / 322 kmph)

Stall Speed

61 KCAS (70 mph / 113 kmph)

60 KCAS (69 mph / 111 kmph)

Systems

Engine

Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-114A Turboprop

Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 Turboprop

Power @ 2,200 RPM

675 shp (503 kW)

750 shp (560 kW)

Propeller

McCauley 3-bladed

Hartzell 4-bladed 

Avionics

Garmin G1000 NXi with GFC700

Garmin G1000 NXi with GFC700

Detailed Comparison

Kodak

This section breaks down the reasoning for which aircraft is better in areas that matter when making a purchasing decision.

Price

The initial cost of an airplane is one of the most important factors when choosing an aircraft, for both private and commercial operators. In 2021, a brand new base model Cessna 208 Caravan costs $2.45 million and the price only increases as options such as floats are introduced.

The Caravan has a great reputation for being a sturdy and long-lasting aircraft with great resale value. An amphibious Caravan that’s close to 15 years old and with 6,000 hours total time is being sold for around $1.4 million which tends to be the average price. A well-kept Caravan can be anywhere from $1.2 million to $2.2 million, depending on the model year.

Daher charges customers $2.63 million for a brand new base model Kodiak 100 Series III, just like the Caravan, the base model includes the top-of-the-line avionics, however, other options like floats are not inclusive in the price either.

Daher Kodiaks aren’t as popular as Cessna Caravans, and therefore the value of the aircraft depreciates quicker. A well-maintained, amphibious 2015 Kodiak with only 668 hours on the frame is being sold for $1.8 million, whereas a similar Caravan model would have fetched a much higher price. While this is an approximate comparison that is subjected to many factors, the end result is the same: Caravans have a better resale value than Kodiaks. \

The Caravan is a cheaper aircraft that depreciates slower than the competition, which wins this category.

Winner: Cessna 208 Caravan

Size, Space, and Weight

If the Cessna 208 Caravan and the Daher Kodiak 100 are placed side by side, from a distance, the average person might not be able to tell the difference between the two. Both aircraft are high-wing and designed very similarly. However, upon closer inspection, the differences start to appear.

The Caravan beats out is longer than the Kodiak by 4 ft (1.21 m) externally, and has a wider interior than the Kodiak. However, the Kodiak has a longer interior, by just under one foot. But that isn’t enough to increase beat out the Caravan in terms of cabin space. The larger cabin of the Caravan allows it to carry a maximum of 14 passengers in the appropriate configuration, which is four more than the Kodiak.

The larger size of the Caravan also translates to a higher maximum payload of 2,502 lb (1,134 kg), which is 345 lb (156 kg) more than the Kodiak. The useable load of the Caravan is also higher than the Kodiak by roughly the same amount as the payload.

However, the Kodiak beats the Caravan out when it comes to full fuel payload. The Kodiak can carry 510 lb (231 kg) more than the Caravan while carrying a full load of fuel, which is very attractive for operators looking to haul a lot of weight for longer flights.

Even though the Kodiak can carry more weight with a full load of fuel, the Caravan beats it by being the better pick for every other situation.

Winner: Cessna 208 Caravan

Maintenance

Kod

Both aircraft are powered by very similar Canadian-built Pratt and Whitney turboprop engines. The Cessna is powered by the PT6A-114A, while the Kodiak is powered by the PT6A-34.

The PT6A-114A in the Caravan produces 675 shp (503 kW) which puts it at a power disadvantage to the Kodiak’s PT6A-34 which produces 750 shp (560 kW). The extra power could allow the lighter Kodiak to be airborne with a heavier load in the same landing strip than a Caravan with a lighter load would.

When it comes to maintenance, the Caravan’s PT6A-114A has a hot section inspection time (HSI) of 1,800 hours, while the time before overhaul is 3,600 hours. The PT6A-34 that powers the Kodiak on the other hand has both a higher HSI and TBO of 2,000 and 4,000 hours, respectively. The longer HSI and TBO of the Kodiak’s engine means that it will have to be maintained less frequently than the engine in the Caravan, resulting in lower operating costs.

For having more power and needing to be maintained less frequently, the Kodiak wins in this category.

Winner: Daher Kodiak 100

Performance

Just looking at the spec sheet, the Daher Kodiak has better numbers than the Cessna Caravan. But it doesn’t necessarily leave the Caravan in the dust. That said, the Kodiak does perform well in certain areas.

It has better STOL capabilities than the Caravan and it to go places the Caravan cannot, which is an important factor considering that these aircraft are almost exclusively used to carry payloads to small and remote areas that normal jet aircraft cannot reach.

The Kodiak also has better fuel economy than the Caravan. It burns 45 gallons per hour, which is three gallons less than the Caravan’s 48 gallons per hour. The biggest caveat here is that the Kodiak cannot carry as much weight or volume as the Caravan can. Which is the main selling point of a utility aircraft. And the performance gap isn’t too large either. The Kodiak performs better, but not by much.

For example. If both aircraft have to transport 50 people, it would take the Kodiak 5 trips, while the Caravan can do it in 3. In such a situation the minor performance advantages the Kodiak have are nullified.

The Caravan can do what the Kodiak can’t, but vice versa isn’t always true. The Caravan wins out in this category.

Winner: Cessna 208 Caravan

Flight Characteristics

Both aircraft follow a very close design philosophy and are almost identical to one another. So it is no surprise that they both handle and fly similarly. Pilots who have flown both aircraft only pick a favorite based on personal preferences vs actual handling differences. The high-wing, dihedral design of the aircraft means they are extremely stable during flight, which is useful because of the conditions they are used in.

Winner: Tie

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What Is a Hot Section Inspection?

Answer: A hot section inspection is conducted at half the time before overhaul of a turboprop engine and involves inspecting major components of the engine to ensure that there isn’t any unwarranted or excessive wear that could cause problems.

Question: What Does Useful Load Refer To?

Answer: It is the combined weight of the pilot, copilot, passengers, cargo, usable fuel, and drainable oil.

Question: What Does Service Ceiling Refer To?

Answer: The service ceiling is the height at which a normally-loaded aircraft cannot sustain a climb rate of 100 feet per minute.

Conclusion

Comparing two aircraft nearly identical to each is challenging because they are so similar to one another. The differences in the spec sheets are glaring and seem like they would favor the Kodiak, but in practice, the Cessna 208 Caravan seems to outperform the Daher Kodiak 100 in nearly every aspect when the bigger picture is taken into account.

Even if a prospective buyer was swayed by the spec sheet, the cost savings that the Caravan provides are undeniable and dwarf any performance advantages. While the initial cost of the favors the Caravan, the more expensive Kodiak burns less fuel and will cost less when engine maintenance is taken into account. Therefore, for operations where it’s a toss-up between a Caravan and Kodiak, choosing a Kodiak might yield long-term savings.

The main question when choosing any aircraft is: what will it be used for? In most situations, the cheaper and more utilitarian Caravan wins out. But in an operation that requires a high maximum full fuel payload, for example, the Kodiak will be the best choice. How and why you fly the aircraft will be the ultimate deciding factor.

For covering a wider range of situations and having an overall advantage in weight and occupancy. The Caravan wins this comparison.

Recommended Reads:

References

A pilot’s review of the cessna caravan CE-208. (2016, November 19). High Performance Aviation, LLC. https://www.flyhpa.com/2016/11/a-pilots-review-of-the-cessna-caravan-ce-208/
BCA table – turboprops. (n.d.). Infogram. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://infogram.com/bca-table-turboprops-1hxr4zx0x1eko6y?live
Caravan 208 specifications, cabin dimensions, performance. (n.d.). GlobalAir.Com. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.globalair.com/aircraft-for-sale/Specifications?specid=911
Cessna caravan perfected? (n.d.). Flying. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.flyingmag.com/pilot-reports/turboprops/cessna-caravan-perfected/
Daher Kodiak 100: Stylish versatility. (n.d.). Skies Mag. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://skiesmag.com/features/daher-kodiak-100-stylish-versatility/
Kodiak 100 specifications, cabin dimensions, performance. (n.d.). GlobalAir.Com. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.globalair.com/aircraft-for-sale/Specifications?specid=972
PT6A TBO & HSI service intervals. (2016, September 16). Airforce Turbine Service (ATS). https://www.pt6a.aero/maintenance/pt6a-tbo-hsi-service-intervals/
We fly: Quest kodiak. (n.d.). Flying. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.flyingmag.com/aircraft/turboprops/we-fly-quest-kodiak/

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