Epic Aircraft is intensifying its efforts to gain certification for its E1000 single-engined turboprop next year, and has kick-started a recruitment drive to augment its workforce in order to bring the six-seat, high-performance type to market within 20 months.
The $2.75 million E1000 is a certificated, factory-built version of the $1.95 million Epic LT kit plane - the last of which are now being assembled at its Bend, Oregon facility.
"We made the decision last year to stop building the kits and to focus on the certificated version," says Mike Schrader, Epic’s director of sales. "We are building the final eight aircraft now, then the line will be cleared." In total the company has built 46 LT kits, he says.
Simultaneously, Epic is building the conforming parts for the first E1000 flying prototype, which is scheduled to make its maiden sortie in the middle of 2014. "We hope to have two prototypes flying before year-end," says Schrader.
Epic has received a "great" response to the E1000 from a mixture of private owners, businesses and charter operators, says Schrader. "We have only just begun our marketing push for the E1000, and there is already a tremendous interest in the aircraft," he says.
So far, Epic has secured 43 orders for the type – each with a $27,500 refundable deposit – 13 from existing LT owners, and the remainder from its Russian owner, MRO provider Engineering.
"The aircraft will be sold worldwide – including to operators in Russia, which could be a significant market given the E1000’s range and versatility," says Schrader. However, there are no plans to set up a local assembly line in the country, he stresses.
Epic will, however, establish a service centre network to support the growing global fleet. "Product support is vital, and we aim to have provisions in place where our customers are based," adds Schrader.
The E1000 is pitched against the Daher-Socata TBM 850, Piper Meridian and Pilatus PC-12NG turboprop singles, as well as high-performance piston-powered aircraft such as the twin-engined Beechcraft G58 Baron and the single-engined Cessna TTx.
The Garmin G950-equipped, Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-67A-powered E1000 has a maximum cruise speed of 325kt (600km/h), a range of 1,600nm (2,970km) and a ceiling of 34,000ft (10,400m).