Epic Aircraft says is ready to conclude the final phase of the flight-test campaign for its E1000 single-engined turboprop, putting type certification for the high-performance composite aircraft on track for year-end.
The company is also “working in tandem” to secure production certification around six months later, which will allow Epic to produce, test fly and issue airworthiness approval for each of the E1000s that rolls off its final assembly line in Bend, Oregon.
The two flight-test aircraft have logged more than 700h since making their respective maiden sorties in December 2015 and January 2018. Epic’s chief test pilot Peter Stiles describes the flight-test programme as “a bright spot within the gruelling type certification process”. He says the E1000 “handles and performs exceptionally, so we just need to complete all mandated flight testing requirements to conclude this final phase”.
The E1000 was launched in 2013 as a certificated and upgraded version of the LT kit plane, which Epic stopped selling in 2014. The 53rd example is scheduled for delivery in early October, and the 54th and final kit aircraft will be handed over in the second quarter of 2019, says Epic sales director Mike Schrader.
He says the $3.25 million E1000 “is living up to all our expectations; and that is not by chance”. Epic has “prioritised” performance and safety, “sometimes at the expense of schedule”, Schrader adds, pointing to the rigorous testing procedures for composite aircraft that have contributed to a two-year delay in bringing the type to market.
“Composite aircraft are held to a higher standard,” he says, “but it is right choice [of material], and will certainly benefit our customers”.
Epic has secured 86 orders for the E1000, and is preparing its manufacturing facility for an annual production rate of 50 aircraft.
Schrader describes the market response to the E1000 as “overwhelmingly positive”.
“Our customers know this aircraft is a game-changer, opening markets and opportunities that have not been tapped before. They want us to succeed and we will.”
Epic will publish the final performance data for the E1000 following certification, but the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67A-powered aircraft is projected to have a maximum cruise speed of around 320kt (610km/h) – making it one the fastest models in this aircraft segment – a range of 1,650nm (3,060km), a maximum take-off weight of 3,400kg (7,500lb) and an operating ceiling of 34,000ft.