The next Epic moment: a jet

“We seem to do this on a regular basis,” said Rick Schrameck as he unveiled his company’s Epic Jet mockup at Oshkosh.

Indeed. Only two years ago the Epic LT turboprop was nothing more than a cardboard display. Last year it flew to Oshkosh. This year the first Epic customer flew his LT to the event.

And this year the Epic Jet was there, too – a mockup, to be sure, but far more than a cardboard cutout. By the time this is in print, the prototype will have made its first flight. Epic plans to have the prototype Very Light Jet fly to the National Business Aviation Association convention in November and to the next air show at Dubai. Certification is scheduled for the third quarter of 2006. The first two certified airplanes already are sold to a buyer in Europe’s Low Countries, according to Schrameck. “It’s the next Epic moment in aviation,” he said.

Schrameck said that the to-be-certified Epic Jet is priced at $2 million ($455,000 in 1965 dollars, he quipped). In the meantime, a “kit” version will be available for $1.6 million to customers who do their 51% share of the building at Epic’s new, 100,000-square-foot plant at Bend, Ore., or at a duplicate plant of Tbilisi Aviation Machine in the Republic of Georgia (the former Soviet Union), Epic’s partner in the project. The partnership is called Tam-Air.

“Full seats, full fuel, full speed” is the Epic mantra, and the little jet delivers on all three. With all of its seven seats occupied, it will cover 1,600 nautical miles at an impressive 426 knots TAS or better, pushed along by a pair of Williams FJ33 engines, each delivering 1,560 pounds of thrust. Schrameck is looking for 1,700 to 1,800 pounds thrust, eventually.

Components of the new VLJ are about 80% identical to those of the LT turboprop, Schrameck noted, including its Garmin 1000 avionics and most other systems.

Seven planes currently are under construction at the Oregon plant. Schrameck said that 10 will be “completed by customers” and delivered this year. He expects 20 to 30 airplanes to roll out in 2006. The new facility will be where Epic “builds, sells and services the entire family of Epic turbine-powered light aircraft, and develops the new jet with Tam-Air,” Schrameck said.

He described the Epic LT and Epic Jet as “combining aerodynamically superior carbon fiber designs, turbine power, and high levels of comfort to create a price-to-performance ratio that is redefining the market.”

Schrameck pointed out that all tests being carried out on the turboprop and jet airframes are to FAR Part 23 requirements. The LT had completed some 220 flight test hours by the end of July, “all but the spin tests,” he said. Wings have been tested to 11.1 Gs, which involved bending them 88 inches out of true. “They went back to within 1/10-inch,” he said.

Specifications for Epic’s new VLJ include an impressive payload of 1,642 pounds with full fuel on board, a certified ceiling of 41,000 feet (after 15 minutes of climb), an economy cruise speed of 389 knots true, and that 1,650 nm range with reserves, at maximum payload.

As to those seven seats, Schrameck added, “six if you want a bar or a potty.”

The company also announced its new EpicPlan Warranty Program at the big show. “It replaces traditional insurance,” said Jeff Sanders, Schrameck’s partner in the Epic operation, who explained the plan covers both experimental and certified Epic aircraft for hull damage. “It covers all facets of in-flight activity related to owning and piloting an Epic LT or Epic Jet,” he said, with the exceptions of liability and on-the-ground damage. “Liability and non-flight insurance will be covered by normal providers,” he said. The plan’s requirements for training and pilot in command, along with type ratings, will closely resemble those of typical insurance program guidelines, he added.

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