On Thursday, Epic Aircraft received its FAA production certificate for the E1000 fast turboprop single. The certification allows Epic to build, test and approve aircraft with what the company calls “reduced FAA presence.”
The E1000 is an all-carbon fiber six-place, pressurized, single-engine turboprop powered by a 1200 hp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67A engine, climbs at up to 4,000 feet per minute and boasts a certified ceiling of 34,000 feet—the highest in the segment. All that power and a sleek design give the E1000 a top cruise speed of an easy-to-remember 333 knots, along with a full-fuel payload of 1,100 pounds, according to Epic.
Those who know about aircraft certification get it. Type certification is the big hoopla event, and it should be. But the production certificate is in many ways the more difficult achievement because it’s so complex and critical, and in part because it essentially involves the certification of every process and part, including supply chains, that go into the aircraft. It’s really many dozens of certification rolled into one.
And it’s even a bigger event given the circumstances surrounding the certification, both nationally and regionally. The country is in the middle of a terrible pandemic, and the FAA is in the middle of recertifying the 737 Max. The pandemic has made it challenging for the FAA to give its usual level of attention to the process, due to the agency’s travel restrictions and reduced in-plant presence. At the same time, with the 737 Max crisis, the FAA finds itself under a microscope, so it’s by many accounts, being extra conservative in its administration of certification activities across the country. It’s also overseeing a large-scale re-certification program, designed to get the 737 Max fixed and un-grounded. That has taken valuable resources away from other certification projects.
The good news is, Epic successfully navigated all of those hurdles and has the PC in hand. What that means is that it can “further accelerate production schedules,” though it didn’t quote any figures for deliveries in 2020. It has so far delivered three E1000s.