Just because an airplane swings a propeller doesn’t mean it can’t be a VLJ. That was the theme Rick Schrameck, chairman and CEO of Aircraft Investor Resources (AIR), emphasized while introducing the single-engine turboprop Epic Dynasty, currently in development, here at the NBAA Convention on Monday.
“What is this new generation of aircraft the market wants?” Schrameck asked press conference attendees, before noting that all VLJs incorporate similar features: high performance, cost-saving construction techniques, a high-tech cockpit, gross weight of under 10,000 pounds and single-pilot operation. By those measures, the Dynasty, from Epic Air (Static Display Area) qualifies for the category, Schrameck maintained, as he sought to position the aircraft at the red hot end of the turbine market.
Powered by a 1,200-shp PT6-67A engine, the all-carbon-fiber aircraft will carry six passengers and cruise at 340 knots at its 32,000-foot service ceiling, according to AIR, the holding company that owns Epic Air.
The Dynasty began its life in 2003 as the experimental Epic LT, which is currently being sold as a kit aircraft. Schrameck credits the aircraft’s experimental phase as invaluable for validating the aircraft’s design. In its current configuration the Dynasty has undergone more than 1,000 hours of flight tests. Last month the company announced it would seek certification for the Dynasty from Transport Canada. Beginning this fall, it will be the first aircraft to undergo certification at the new Canadian Centre for Aircraft Certification (CCAC) at Springbank Airport in Calgary, Alberta. Schrameck anticipates Canadian certification in the first quarter of 2008, with reciprocal U.S. certification to follow shortly afterward. Price for the Dynasty is $1.95 million in 2006 dollars. Schrameck said the company currently has $89 million in orders for the Dynasty, and expects to produce 40 of the aircraft in its first year of production. Epic is currently taking deposits ($45,000) for guaranteed delivery positions.
Schrameck noted that new-generation turboprop engines were more efficient for some applications than turbofan powerplants, and said the Dynasty’s direct operating cost would be “one dollar per mile” or less. “We believe in new materials,” Schrameck continued. “Composites are definitely the way of the future, and now in many ways it’s here.”
Epic, based in Bend, Ore., is also developing a twin turbofan, the Epic Elite. Sharing many common parts and tooling with the Dynasty (an approach Schrameck compared to Adam Aircraft’s A500 and A700 programs), the Elite will also undergo certification at the CCAC. The company expects the Elite to receive Canadian certification six to nine months after the Dynasty.
Powered by Williams FJ33-4 engines, the Elite will carry six to eight passengers, depending on configuration, have a maximum cruise speed of 412 knots and a service ceiling of 41,000 feet, according to AIR. Price is $2.35 million in 2006 dollars.
Schrameck said both the Dynasty and Elite will be built at a 100,000-sq-ft facility at Springbank Airport, which AIR plans to begin building this fall.