Epic Aircraft delivered its first two experimental category Epic LT turboprops in late March, one year after winning a court battle that put the company back into the hands of US investors.
Majority shareholder and chief executive Doug King says the Oregon-based company now has 30 employees to support an owner-assisted production rate of eight to 10 of the $2 million, 300kt (555km/h) aircraft per year.
AVIC subsidiary China Aviation Industry General Aircraft had purchased the company in bankruptcy court, but an appeal by King and other owners forced a compromise. "We bought the company and the Chinese have licence to build the aircraft in China," he says. "They can't enter the experimental market in the US, and we can't enter the market there." But either company could sell a certificated version in either market, King adds.
"I think [CAIGA] learned in our deal how small the aviation community is and how proud we are of American products," says King. "The US is still the biggest aviation market, and if the Chinese are going to be long-term players, they're going to have to figure out how to work with us."