Indian business newspaper Mint is reporting that Vijay Mallya, chairman of drinks giant UB Group and founder of Kingfisher Airlines, is to make a personal investment of $200 million to take a controlling stake in Oregon-based Epic Aircraft.
A deal has been on the cards since billionaire Mallya – who also looks set to buy the Spyker Formula 1 racing team – met Epic chief executive Rick Schramek at the AirVenture show in Oshkosh in July.
It will not be an investment without risk. Epic is a kitplane producer that has yet to certificate an aircraft. It is also the first customer for a new and untried Canadian centre for composite aircraft certification in Calgary.
But Mallya’s money will be a boost for Epic, which has ambitious plans to follow its Dynasty turboprop single with a twin-engine very light jet, the Elite – in addition to adding the single-turboprop Escape and single-jet Victory to its kitplane line.
Type certification of the Dynasty and Elite will just be the first step. As Eclipse has shown, it can be tough to get the production certification needed to ramp up deliveries, and Epic will have to invest heavily in training and support if it is to become a fully fledged aircraft manufacturer.