Entrepreneurs/Innovators started in Bend, OR
Exciting Aircraft design attracted much interest/litigation
Russian Airline wants to build it in Moscow
Poses interesting TC/PC issues
Since 2004, the Epic Aircraft, located in Bend, OR, has traced a trail sufficiently convoluted to absorb considerable time to explain all of the twists. Suffice it to say that the company has experienced
- a large number of lawsuits, a criminal conviction,
- a bankruptcy in which one bid was characterized as “pathetic, useless, incompetent, unacceptable, garbage and fiction”,
- sale to China Aviation Industry General Aircraft, which included production in Bend
- Somewhere along this timeline 12 Epic Victory single engine very light jets were produced (not clear whether they were kit sales or after TC/PCs were issued
- Capacity:3 to 4
- Length:33 ft 5 in (10.19 m)
- Wingspan:36 ft 4 in (11.08 m)
- Height:10 ft 8½ in (3.26 m)
- Empty weight:2700 lb (1225 kg)
- Gross weight:5500 lb (2495 kg)
- Maximum speed:368 mph (592 km/h)
- Cruise speed:288 mph (463 km/h)
- Range:1380 miles (2222 km)
- then inexplicably a sale (part, all?) to a Russian company Engineering LLC.
- the Bend, OR company is developing an E1000, a high performance, all carbon fiber, single-engine turboprop aircraft, which is in the TC proof process
- now S7’s General Director Vladimir Obedkov announced plans to invest nearly $200 million in a new manufacturing plant that could create about 1,000 jobs near Moscow to build the Epic Victory. The press released explained that S7 had bought the rights to the American designed single-engine composite-construction aircraft would have a range of about 1,080 nautical miles. It is intended to be operated by a single pilot and carry 4-5 passengers.
S7 Airlines is Russia’s biggest domestic airline. Vladimir Obedkov leads a fleet of 88 aircraft (Airbus, Boeing, Embraer) which is part of the oneworld Alliance. S7 owns an MRO, SIBIR TECHNICS. It has a subsidiary named Sea Launch space company. There is nothing in its portfolio to indicate that it has much competence to design and manufacture an aircraft.
Obviously, something about the Epic Victory design has attracted a lot of attention from investors over 15 years, much less the legal fees associated with such interest.
A 2016 review of the plane may explain why:
“There was a grand idea of to revolutionise air travel and put the everyday personal experience of a quick short point to point flight to carry a few passengers in an executive style environment at an affordable price. Up to date personal jet travel is restricted to overpaid company CEO’s and rock stars and while your average Joe is still flying the airline way. It was a big dream that nearly came off.
…so enter the Epic Victory which was intended to cash in on this lucrative emerging market. To a point Epic succeeded in creating the correct aircraft in the single Pratt & Whitney Canada PW600 powered “Victory” (The Williams FJ33 was used for testing) for the exceptional low price of US$1 Million. Certainly, it was the right aircraft and at the right price for this emerging market… but it all never came to pass, again.
There has only been 16 Victory aircraft built and flown and all as experimental aircraft. As the Epic Aircraft company that builds the Victory has been mired into a decade old bizarre history of court cases, lawyers, embezzlement, fraud and god knows what else. Then the Epic company was bought out by the Chinese and now the Russians that makes the whole lot sound more now like James Bond and his megalomaniac villains than just building jets.
The real tragedy of all nonsense is the aircraft, because it is an excellent little machine that could have changed in a small part aviation history… the Air-ta
The next challenge will be regulatory complications. What level of recognition will Rosaviatsia give to whatever certification record was developed during the 2004-2009 period for the Epic Victory with the FAA. Though there is a BASA , there must be some doubts about the sophistication of Rosaviatsia certification processes after the problems with the S100 introduction. The Victory depends on a number of sophisticated materials to achieve its low weights; that requirement may be difficult for S7 airline staff to manage. With a single engine powerplant, the reliability tests will have to be exacting; can Rosaviatsia define and then test adequate standards.
The Tupelov and Ilyushin commercial aircraft are both solid aircraft, but most Western airline customers judged them as over-engineered. They were produced to deal with the difficult conditions, sparse spare parts and other demands of the old USSR aviation system. Those design parameters are not part of the Epic Victory history.
Bend to Moscow has been a long, slow journey. It will be interesting to see how this aircraft progresses now.
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