Epic Aircraft is preparing the first E1000 single-engined turboprop for its first flight in June and plans to deliver the first of the six-seat, high-speed types early next year.

The $3 million E1000 is a certificated, factory-built version of the $1.95 million Epic LT kit plane, which the company stopped selling last year. “Serial number 54 was the last LT to be sold,” says Epic director of sales and marketing Mike Schrader. There are currently 48 of the type in service and another six in various stages of construction.

Schrader says LT owners make up around 10% of the 60-strong orderbook for the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67A-powered, Garmin G950-equipped E1000. “We have received a phenomenal response to the aircraft from existing turboprop owners, as well as operators of high-performance piston singles and twins [such as the Cirrus SR22 and Beechcraft Baron] who are looking for a step-up aircraft,” he says.

Schrader puts the E1000’s popularity down to the low price – compared to $3.9 million for the Pilatus PC-12NG and $3.7 million for the TBM 900 – and its “impressive” performance and operating characteristics. These include a projected maximum cruise speed of 325kt (600km/h), a range of 1,650nm (3,060km) and a ceiling of 34,000ft.

Epic is currently building a service centre network across the USA to support the fleet and to reassure potential customers of its commitment to aftersales care. “You cannot build a successful programme without a great support network,” says Schrader. “We are talking to established business aviation services providers that offer PT6, Garmin and composite servicing capabilities.

“We plan to have six service centres initially, but will expand the network as the fleet grows,” he adds.

The Bend, Oregon-based airframer is planning to deliver between five and 10 E1000s in 2016, increasing to around 50 a year in 2018.

Two aircraft will be involved in the flight test campaign. The second E1000 is now under construction and is expected to take to the skies in October.

Source: Flight International