Epic forges ahead with jet and turboprop programs

 - October 2, 2006, 10:38 AM

Epic Aircraft parent company Aircraft Investor Resources (AIR) and Republic of Georgia-based Tbilisi Aviation Machine (TAM) in late July further cemented a joint venture announced last fall to build a $2 million very light jet (VLJ). Under the partnership, Epic Aircraft and TAM will co-produce the twinjet–Epic at its new 90,000-sq-ft Bend, Ore. facility and TAM at a plant in Tbilisi. The two parties have entered into a $40 million agreement with Williams International, which will supply the jet’s engines.

According to Epic president and CEO Rick Schrameck, TAM will market the all-composite, six-seat VLJ as the Tam-Air Jet in Eastern Europe and Asia, while the U.S.-based start-up will sell it as the Epic Jet in the Americas and Western Europe. The Williams FJ33-4-powered twinjet is designed to share 80-percent commonality with the Epic LT turboprop single, which will also be co-produced at the two facilities.

Projected performance and specifications for the VLJ include 420-knot cruise speed, 1,680-nm NBAA IFR range, 1,850-foot balanced field length, 9,500-foot cabin at the 41,000-foot ceiling and 1,600-pound useful load with the full 2,250 pounds of fuel. The cabin will be 15 feet long, 4.6 feet high and 4.9 feet wide, and the cockpit will feature a Garmin G1000 avionics system.

First flight of the twinjet has been delayed from this summer to the fourth quarter, noted Schrameck, who cited manpower shortages for the slippage. He added that certification of the Epic Jet remains pegged for late next year or early 2007. However, Schrameck told AIN that Epic plans to certify the jet, as well as its turboprop sibling, through Brazilian authorities first and then gain reciprocal FAA approval.

Meanwhile, the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67A-powered Epic LT prototype has logged 250 hours since it first flew in July last year. The all-composite, $1.9 million turboprop single has a top speed of 350 knots, 1,608-nm NBAA IFR range, mtow of 7,050 pounds and a 28,000-foot ceiling. Brazilian certification is scheduled for next July.

To back up its aircraft, in late July Epic unveiled a tip-to-tail hull-damage warranty program. Called EpicPlan, the program is billed as a replacement for existing insurance provider plans since it will “cover all facets of in-flight activity related to owning and piloting an Epic LT or Epic Jet.”

According to the company, EpicPlan will offer industry-standard coverage, in addition to all comprehensive damages. Pilot-training requirements, it added, will be similar to third-party insurance program guidelines. Liability and non-flight insurance will need to be covered by normal insurance providers.