Epic Aircraft prototype takes first flight, to gain FAA OK in 2016 (Video)

Epic Aircraft, the Bend-based manufacturer of high performance, all carbon fiber, single-engine turboprop aircraft, announced this week it's achieved a significant milestone in its E1000 certification program with the successful maiden flight of its first conforming flight test article, code-named FT1. "The company remains on track to achieve Type Certificate and begin customer deliveries during 2016," the company said in Wednesday's announcement.

The Epic E1000 prototype FT1, sporting tail number N331FT, took its first flight on Saturday afternoon around 4 p.m. from the Bend Municipal Airport. Upon completion of the scheduled 20-minute flight, Epic Chief Pilot David Robinson, reported, “The aircraft handled extremely well and performed just as expected.” “This is a tremendous accomplishment, and I couldn’t be more proud of our team," said Epic CEO Doug King. "We achieved our goal to fly FT1 by the end of the year, thanks to the hard work, long hours and dedicated commitment of our entire staff. The timing just before Christmas gives us even more to celebrate this holiday season.”

FT1 testing will continue over the next several months, assessing general handling qualities, operational performance, systems operations in normal mode, failure scenarios, extreme conditions and Flight Into Known Icing (FIKI) regulations. The second and final flight test article, FT2, is scheduled to launch this spring, and will reflect as closely as possible the E1000 production aircraft, both in equipment and manufacturing process.

FT2 testing will focus on assessing interior and cabin functionality, including fuel, hydraulic, avionics, navigational and environmental systems.

The company said, "The E1000 design perfectly addresses the market need for a high-speed, low-cost aircraft that can efficiently support individual owner pilots, as well as corporate, fractional and charter operations." "The company expects the E1000 to be a formidable competitor in the single-engine turboprop market, as well as offer business jet owners a more versatile, lower-cost platform." “Traditional metal aircraft are at a tremendous disadvantage," King said. "Carbon fiber is lighter, stronger, more aerodynamic and less expensive to manufacture, providing more speed, range, payload and performance at a highly competitive price. That’s why the E1000 will be the fastest, most versatile and affordable, six-place single-engine turboprop in the world.”

Competitively priced at $2.95 million ‘fully-equipped’, the sleek E1000 all-composite airframe, powered by the 1,200-horsepower Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67A turbine engine, travels at speeds over 325 KTAS, offering a range of 1,650 nautical miles, climb rate over 4,000 feet per minute, authorized ceiling of 34,000 feet, and full fuel payload of 1,120 pounds.

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