Epic Aircraft announced March 6 that it has been sold to a Russian MRO by the name of Engineering llc and plans to put its kit LT single-engine turboprop aircraft into FAA-certified production. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Work on certifying the PT6A-67-powered aircraft has already begun, Epic CEO Doug King told AIN, and the company hopes to have the aircraft certified in three years and for sale at a price between $2.5 million and $3 million. For now, Epic operations will remain at the company facility in Bend, Ore., where it is producing kits for the LT and the smaller and faster Escape under builder-assistance programs for $1.9 million and $1.25 million, respectively. The LT kit is powered by a factory-new PT6, while the Escape is offered with a rebuilt Honeywell TPE331-10. The first customer Escape is due to be completed this summer, King said. Thirty people currently work at the company and King said there are immediate plans to double the payroll to support LT certification efforts within the next 12 months. For now, Epic has no plans to place any aircraft other than the LT into certified production. King said Epic plans to rename the certified version of the LT, but that a new name has yet to be chosen. King led the LT Builders’ Group purchase of Epic assets from bankruptcy in 2010 for $4.3 million, and said he plans to stay with the company.
Chinese Firm Licenses Production Rights
Subsequent to that purchase, the LT Builders’ Group licensed the production rights of Epic designs to China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (Caiga). “LT Builders owned all of the design rights and bought everything,” King explained. “We then licensed all of the design rights to [Caiga]. We share design rights for anything certified and [exclusively hold] the rights for experimental aircraft in North America.”
Caiga obtained the rights for sales of experimental aircraft in other markets and obtained some aircraft tooling excluding that for the Epic LT, King said. While saying that he was not sure how Caiga intends to proceed with its involvement with Epic designs, King acknowledged it would be possible for Caiga to certify, build and sell Epic designs in the U.S.“I don’t think they are going to certify an airplane here, but they could,” he said. “They would have a long way to go. It is much more likely that they will do something longer term, take some of the designs, modify them and make something new.”
While King said that Engineering llc will provide adequate resources to certify the LT, he declined to provide specifics. “We’re not sharing our financial plans,” he said. King also declined to share how many Epic LTs have been constructed to date, saying only, “We have been producing kits and producing airplanes and rolling them out.”
King said that the acquisition of Epic by Engineering llc was principally a financial transaction, but acknowledged that the company “has a lot of experts and expertise that is coming from them. It’s a good opportunity.”
Engineering llc is an EASA-approved Russia-based MRO holding company that provides line and base maintenance up to multiple C-Checks for Airbus, Boeing, ATR and Bombardier aircraft. Engineering llc companies include S7 Engineering, Sibir Technik and Domodedovo Technik.