Epic Aircraft in Bend, Oregon Builds Their Own

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In 2004, Epic Aircraft began manufacturing high-quality experimental aircraft kits for interested private pilots. Initial production began a year later, with the first customer deliveries of the Epic LT experimental aircraft kits beginning 2006. A little less than a decade later, Epic Aircraft will deliver the final kit airplanes in 2015, as they prepare to go into production on the new E1000; a fully-built airplane modeled after the LT.

“Epic is leading the industry with our ‘all carbon fiber’ design,” explains CEO Doug King. “The market opportunity for a certified version of the Epic LT is tremendous, exponentially larger than the kit plane marketplace. Having the financial support of Engineering LLC enabled us to successfully launch a certification program and gain access to that market potential.”

Epic Aircraft is headquartered at the Bend Airport, with two manufacturing facilities totaling over 300,000 square feet of production space. They employ 140 people with plans to double that number within the next twelve to eighteen months.

But times weren’t always good for the Central Oregon aviation company. After launching in 2004, Epic Aircraft had to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009. At auction, a group of kit-plane owners, led by King, bought the company and began to turn it around. In 2012, a Russian maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) holding company, Engineering LLC bought the company, keeping King on as CEO.

“Engineering LLC is a highly successful, experienced, financially stable and aviation-savvy organization,” says King. “They are very committed to our success and highly supportive of our programs and people.”

Once delivered, the certified Epic E1000 will be the fastest six-seat single-engine turboprop in the world. The 1200hp Pratt & Whitney PT6-67A engine allows the plane to cruise at 325 knots, with a range of 1,600 nautical miles and a maximum ceiling of 34,000 feet. The instrument panel will feature the Garmin G950 glass-panel avionics, synthetic vision, and a traffic-avoidance system.

The first fifteen reserved airplanes were priced at $2.75 million, while the rest will be sold for $2.95 million. Epic Aircraft has already taken 60 reservations. Operating costs for the plane come in under $500 per hour.

“The E1000 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,” says King.

Epic Aircraft is hoping to receive FAA certification for the E1000 by the end of next year, and deliver them by 2016. They are currently building the prototype, with plans for test flights in early 2015.

FAA approval requires the meticulous inspection and review of each of the thousands of line item parts involved in the manufacturing of the aircraft. Epic Aircraft began their certification effort in 2012, and have worked hard to trim the time required for approval. It is not uncommon for certification to take upwards of a decade to complete.

“The E1000 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,” says King.

Epic Aircraft

Location: 22590 Nelson Road, Bend, OR 97701, 541-318-8849
Website: www.epicaircraft.com
CEO: Doug King
No. Employees: 140
Year Established: 2004
Product: Currently producing the last Epic LT airplane kits for sale. Beginning to build the prototype of the E1000, a fully built aircraft to go on the market in 2016. Hot News: Already received 60 reservations for the soon-to-be certified E1000, coming in at just under $3 million each. Increased manufacturing facility to over 300,000 square feet. Outlook for Growth: Awaiting FAA certification for the E1000. Plans to double the current staff of 140 as production ramps up and deliveries begin to take place.

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Bend-based freelance writer Gregg Morris honed his wit in suburban Michigan and his gift for the written word at Michigan State University. When not writing, Gregg can be found riding his bike, earning his turns, or playing guitar alongside his wife and daughter.

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