Explorer Aircraft (AEA) Explorer

Intended for the same market as the GippsAero Airvan, in between the Cessna 206 and Cessna 208, the AEA Explorer has a similar appearance. It also comes from an Australian company: AEA stands for Aeronautical Engineers Australia Research Pty Ltd. Meant as a bush plane the Explorer has strut braced wings mounted high on the fuselage that has a nearly square cross section. At the rear is a tall vertical stabiliser with a small dorsal fin that has a small air intake at the front. The windows look much like those on the Cessna Caravan and Quest Kodiak. Unlike its competitors the Explorer has a retractable gear. Unusually the main gear retracts in pods at the opposite side of the fuselage.

Marketing seems now taken over by Texas based company Explorer Aircraft, that also envisions the larger Explorer 750T. So far, production remains just one aircraft.

Explorer 350R

This was the original version, actually a proof-of-con­cept aircraft, with a piston engine in the nose. The cooling air intakes are besides the prop spinner. There is an exhaust underneath the nose. It is pictured at the top.

Explorer 500T

The Explorer 500T is the turboprop version of the 350R, so look for the more streamlined nose. The air intakes are left and right below the spinner, while the engine has exhausts at the side of the nose, on each side.

The Explorer 500T has a streamlined nose with intakes left and right below the spinner and exhausts at the side of the nose. (photo FlugKerl2/WikiMedia)

Confusion possible with

Quest Kodiak

quest kodiak 100

The aircraft looking most like the Explorer, especially the 500T, is the Kodiak. Both have a "stubby" appea­rance and a tall tail. The Kodiak has a fixed landing gear though and no bulges where the main gear is attached to the fuselage. 

GippsAero GA8


The GippsAero GA8 is most similar to the Explorer 350R, as both have a piston engine. The GA10 is a larger version of the GA8 pictured above, with a turbo­prop in the nose. The GA10 has larger windows than the Explorer, and a more triangular shaped tail. Like the Kodiak it has no pods to hold a retracted gear.

Cessna 208 Caravan

cessna 208

The Cessna Caravan has rectangular cabin windows - more widely spaced, a bigger dorsal fin, a turboprop engine with single large exhaust right below the nose and a fixed landing gear without pods at the side of the fuselage.

Vulcanair VF600W

vulcanair vf600w

Vulcanair developed a single engine tur­bo­prop aircraft in particular similar to the Cessna Grand Caravan. It is most easily recognised by its smaller cabin windows (in particular compared to the cockpit windows) and the eyebrow cockpit windows. It has a fixed landing gear. (photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt/WikiMedia)