Epic Elite VLJ Makes First Flight

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Epic Aircraft of Bend, Ore., said its very light jet, dubbed the Elite, made its maiden flight on Thursday morning. The twinjet is a joint venture between Epic parent company Aircraft Investor Resources (AIR) and Tbilisi Aircraft Manufacturing (TAM) of Georgia (the former Soviet bloc country). According to Epic, the initial flight was flown by test pilots Dave Morss and Len Fox and lasted more than 40 minutes while the crew explored the aircraft’s control characteristics and low-level performance capabilities. (For more on this flight, listen to our exclusive interview with Epic Aircraft CEO Rick Schrameck.) The carbon-fiber Elite, which is powered by two 3,120-pound-thrust Williams FJ33-4 engines, is expected to fly at speeds up to 410 knots, have a range of more than 1,600 nm and have a full-fuel payload of 1330 pounds. The VLJ's flight deck features the Garmin G900X avionics system. The company said the Elite Jet will first be available later this year as a seven-passenger kitbuilt aircraft, with an eight-passenger version slated to be certified in late 2009. The Epic Elite is scheduled to make its public debut next month at EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh, Wis. The company's jet will be joined at the airshow by its turboprop single brethren – the Epic LT and Dynasty, now in certification testing in Canada. Epic's second jet, the single-engine Victory, is also scheduled to fly to Oshkosh, after making its first flight early next month. According to Epic, the Victory, which was publicly announced in April at Sun 'n Fun, is a clean-sheet design that has been in development for only seven months.