Doug King, president of Epic Aircraft, says he has filed an application with the US Federal Aviation Administration to certificate a modified version of the company's single-engined LT turboprop, a key strategic step for the Bend, Oregon-based airframer.
"Our business is going to be in the certified market," says King, adding that funding for the project is a direct result of the acquisition of Epic by Russian maintenance, repair and overhaul company Engineering LLC earlier this month. King says the company had been in deliberations with Engineering since late 2011.
Dubbed the E1000 in the application, the aircraft will be based on the experimental-category LT, but with a series of performance-enhancing and regulation-conforming changes, which include a 34,000ft (10,370m) maximum altitude, redesigned electrical system and 61kt (113km/h) stall speed, says Rich Finley, Epic's chief of engineering flight test.
There are 34 LTs in operation, leading to "a lot of risk reduction" for the certification programme, says Finley.
King says the E1000 will be priced at $2.5 million, up from $1.95 million for the experimental LT. He says customers ordering the LT will be given the option of trading the slot for a certificated aircraft position. He expects certification to be complete in "two to three years".
Finley says Epic has hired several technicians and an engineer so far for the E1000 programme. Flight testing of aerodynamic modifications that will lower the stall speed and increase maximum cruise are under way with a leased Epic LT. Two additional aircraft will be used for the certification campaign, with the second and final aircraft being fully conforming.
Epic is evaluating proposals for E1000 avionics and engines, leaving the possibility that LT vendors - Garmin, with the G900X flightdeck, and Pratt & Whitney Canada, with the PT6-67A turboshaft engine - may not be baseline for the E1000. Selections are expected this summer.