Epic Aircraft continues to edge toward FAA certification of its $3.25 million E1000 carbon-fiber turboprop single. On Wednesday at EAA AirVenture, the company announced completion of aircraft structural testing and anticipates receiving FAA Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) this month. It also said that it had flown 625 total flight test hours on its two flight-test aircraft and would begin FAA conformal flight testing next month.
The company now anticipates receiving FAA certification in the fourth quarter, with customer deliveries to follow early next year. Mike Schrader, Epic director of sales and marketing, said the company is on track to receive its production certificate in the first half of 2019 and that the first three to four customer aircraft are already taking shape at the company’s 300,000-sq-ft Bend, Oregon factory. He said Epic would begin the process of converting some 85 aircraft deposits to firm orders later this summer.
According to Schrader, the company is debt-free, already has 250 employees, and is “fully funded” through certification and its initial production years. He said initial plans call for a production ramp-up of eight to 12 aircraft next year, 24 in 2020, 36 in 2021, and 50 in 2022 and thereafter. The company estimates the ultimate market for the E1000 at 80 to 90 units per year, he said. Epic is owned by Russian-controlled Engineering LLC.
“We have doubled our composite-fabrication capacity and refined workflows to support planned production volumes of 50 aircraft per year,” said Epic CEO Doug King. “We have added tooling, curing ovens, paint booths, storage freezers, CNC machinery, and composite cutting and laser templating tools, as well as inspection, bonding, and assembly equipment. We are currently running two production work shifts, with plans to eventually support around-the-clock-production capacity.”
Schrader said rigorous testing of the aircraft to date has included pressure testing the fuselage to 18 psi, nearly three times its normal 6.6 psi limit, and ultimate loading the wing to 19,044 pounds and deflecting it to 31 inches. He said preliminary performance data of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-67A-powered E1000 shows a maximum speed of 325 knots, 1,650-nm maximum range, 1,100 pounds of payload, maximum sustained climb rate of 4,000 fpm, fuel consumption rate of 45 gph at cruise altitude, and 34,000-foot service ceiling. “We’re getting there,” Schrader said. “It’s a long, arduous process.”