Epic Aircraft (Bend, OR, US) is pushing hard to achieve the type certificate for its E1000 model by the end of 2015. The company confirms it currently has more than 60 reservations, with initial customer deliveries targeted for early 2016. The company says that more than 1,200 drawings have been approved, structural testing is in full swing and the first conforming prototype is scheduled to fly this spring.
Epic uses advanced carbon fiber composite material throughout the construction of its entire E1000 airframe, which is priced at $2.95 million.
“Certification requires collaboration across the entire organization and with the FAA. It is extremely demanding but also rewarding, when you have an aircraft as exciting as the E1000. We are absolutely focused on reaching the finish line this year,” said Doug King, Epic CEO.
The final stages of certification, which involve proving that the aircraft complies with all FAA regulations, is accomplished through a rigorous series of flight, structural and fatigue testing protocols. To satisfy these requirements, Epic is building two conforming flight test articles (FT1 & FT2) and two conforming structural test articles (ST1 & ST2).
The FT1 will focus on assessing the following characteristics: general handling qualities; operational performance; systems operations in normal mode; failure scenarios and extreme conditions; and icing regulations (FIKI).
The second flight test article, FT2, is scheduled to fly this fall and will be the first fully-conforming prototype, including all production systems and interiors. FT2 testing will demonstrate compliance of all components and systems, including fuel, hydraulic, avionics, navigational, environmental and cabin systems.
Structural testing of individual components is nearing completion, as ST1 enters production. ST1 is intended for destructive testing in which the test article is subjected to stress beyond normal and abnormal operations to the point of failure to prove strength of structure. ST2 will undergo fatigue and lifecycle testing to demonstrate damage tolerance over time and under extreme conditions at all stages of flight operations. All structural and fatigue testing will be conducted at Epic’s R&D facility in Bend.
E1000 production line
In tandem with certification efforts, Epic’s manufacturing team is preparing for production certificate and volume ramp. Among these priorities is establishing a quality system that demonstrates Epic’s ability to reproduce the E1000 aircraft to the same conforming standards.
“We are setting up the E1000 assembly line and investing heavily in tooling, equipment, quality systems, and training programs to ensure a timely, efficient and aggressive production ramp,” King said.
The E1000 production line, which is intended to eventually yield one aircraft per week, utilizes lean manufacturing practices to standardize procedures, optimize quality and increase efficiency. Advanced tools and technology are being deployed to improve workflow, including perfect, on-time parts delivery to final assembly stations, on-demand electronic work instructions and web-based workforce training programs.