Epic Aircraft parent Aircraft Investor Resources in December said it had resolved a row with the FAA over the status of kit-built Epic LT turboprop singles. The FAA has “determined the kit…meets the intent of FAR 21.121(g),” otherwise known as the 51-percent rule, which requires kit builders to construct a majority of their airplane.
This is an important step for Epic Aircraft, since its business model relies on delivering about 18 kit-built Epic LTs before shipping certified copies of the turboprop singles. Epic believes it can work the bugs out of the production process by having kit builders construct their aircraft–using production tooling–at Epic’s “Build Facility” in Bend, Ore., which will also double as a manufacturing plant for certified Epic LTs.
The company handed the first kit-built Epic LT to its customer in late December, and at press time the second kit-built example was awaiting a final inspection by the FAA. The next copy of the Epic LT (S/N 003) will be a fully conforming test aircraft that will participate in certification trials. S/N 003 is expected to start certification flying next month, joining an Epic LT prototype that first flew in July 2004.
Last year, Epic Aircraft president Rick Schrameck said that, due to the backlog at the FAA certification branch, the Epic LT would first be certified in Brazil, with FAA approval to follow. But Schrameck told AIN last month that those plans have changed; the aircraft will now be certified first by Transport Canada, with a nearly simultaneous blessing from the FAA and EASA. He cited the Canadian authority’s “very can-do attitude” as the reason for the switch.
Further, a duplicate of the 100,000-sq-ft production plant in Bend will be constructed in Alberta, Canada, which will effectively double the manufacturing capacity for the Las Vegas-based start-up company.
The six-month delay in delivering the first kit-built Epic LT has set back the company’s certification efforts by an equal amount. Therefore, the turboprop single’s previous certification estimate of July has been pushed to the first quarter of next year. Epic says it has firm orders for more than 50 copies of the $1.9 million certified version of the LT.