Epic Aircraft's Elite very light jet is trapped in a hangar in the outskirts of Tbilisi, Georgia after Russian aircraft bombed the airfield, home to joint venture partner Tbilisi Aerospace Manufacturing (TAM).

The Elite prototype, pictured on its world debut at AirVenture 2007 in Oshkosh, flew to TAM's facility in June to begin a demonstration tour of Europe. TAM is developing the six-seat, twin-engined aircraft for the Russian and CIS markets, where it is dubbed the TAM-Air Elite Jet.

Epic Aircraft Elite VLJ
 © Jeffrey Decker

Epic chief executive Rick Schrameck says he will wait for normality to be restored and the runway to be repaired before flying it out of Georgia.

"At this point we do not have an option. We will not jeopardise a pilot or the aircraft," he says. "If we were to disassemble the aircraft, the only way out would be helicopter airlift."

Kit versions of the Elite will enter production this year, Schrameck says, and will be built through Epic's in-house self-build programme that brings buyers to its Bend, Oregon facility to complete 51% or more of the aircraft's construction.

The certificated version for the North American market will not be built in Calgary, Canada as previously thought. "Our factory will probably be more in central or eastern Canada because of the [favourable financial packages offered by] local government," he says. "We can produce multiple hundreds of aircraft within a year, including 40 Elites. However, this is dictated by market demand."

An Epic production line is also planned for India in factories owned by Epic's majority shareholder, Vijay Mallya.



Source: Flight International