|Rick Schrameck (CEO 2004-2009)
Doug King (CEO 2010-present)
Epic Aircraft is a general aviation aircraft manufacturer headquartered in Bend, Oregon that is owned by the Russian company Engineering LLC. The company is developing its first FAA certified model for sale.
Since 2004, Epic has manufactured and sold kits for high performance experimental models, notably the 1,200 hp (895 kW) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6 powered Epic LT. Following a reorganization in 2010, construction on airplanes was resumed and new orders were accepted. The company made the decision in 2013 to discontinue orders for the homebuilt kit after the 54th airframe was sold, to concentrate on certification of the E1000. The E1000 will be the certified version of the popular Epic LT, and certification is expected in mid 2016.
When the company was founded in 2004 it located in Bend, Oregon due to public incentives that were offered, including state loans and grants of US$1.3M. In return for the grants and loans Epic promised to create 4,000 jobs.
On 5 June 2009 Epic was sued by Blue Sky AvGroup, an Epic customer that had an aircraft under construction at the build center, alleging that Epic had failed to meet its contractual obligations. The case went to court in 2013 and ended "without an award of costs, disbursements or attorney’s fees to any party".
In late June 2009 the company dramatically scaled back its operations. The lay-offs primarily affected the aircraft build center, where customers worked on their own kits. Epic was subsequently named as plaintiff in July 2009 in a lawsuit against engine maker Williams International, claiming that the engine maker defaulted on a contract to supply engines for the Epic Victory program. On 8 August 2009 the company's premises were seized.
Several additional lawsuits were filed against Epic. These included "serious allegations about the conduct of company principals". In a sworn statement Chief Financial Officer David Clark said that Epic owed its customer builders an estimated US$15 million for parts and that the company had no money to pay those debts. Also in his sworn statement Clark alleged many financial irregularities and that company financial reports and practices "did not comply with generally accepted accounting practices". Other sworn statements by Clark and General Manager David Hice alleged that the company was a "chaotic financial environment over which CEO Rick Schrameck ruled exclusively". Hice further alleged many financial irregularities, including that the company missed its payroll in July 2004 and was only able to pay its staff using customer aircraft deposits from sales at AirVenture that same month. Hice also alleged that "On June 16th, 2009 I was terminated after Rick Schrameck physically attacked me."
In September 2009 CEO Rick Schrameck was removed by the board of directors from any "managerial or supervisory capacity" with Epic parent company Aircraft Investor Resources, and the company voluntarily entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy, seeking to reorganize, find investors and continue kitplane production on a reduced scale. As a result of the bankruptcy filing customers with aircraft under construction at the company facility were permitted to remove their aircraft and parts.
As a result of the bankruptcy filing customers with aircraft under construction at the company facility were permitted to remove their aircraft and parts. In an auction on 26 March 2010, the state-owned China Aviation Industry General Aircraft was the highest bidder with a US$4.3 million offer, beating out a bid by the LT Builders Group, a group of seven aircraft owners with incomplete aircraft in the plant. The hearing judge admonished the LT Builders Group for their bid describing it as "pathetic, useless, incompetent, unacceptable, garbage and fiction" but gave the group another chance to improve their position and reserved his decision on the final winner of the auction until 2 April 2010. On 2 April 2010 the judge issued a judgement ordering China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. Ltd. to form a partnership with the LT Builders Group allowing the latter to run the Bend plant. The deal was completed by 11 April 2010, with the LT Builders Group agreeing to run the plant and market to North America, while the Chinese company would market to the rest of the world. The new company intended to reopen the Bend plant for builder-assist construction as well as pursue type certification of the Epic LT.
At AirVenture on 31 July 2010 CEO Doug King announced that the company was ready to take orders for the Epic LT, Escape and Victory kit at that time and that 11 aircraft were in plant, being completed by their owners.
Purchase by Engineering LLC
Engineering LLC, a Russian company, purchased Epic in March 2012 and announced plans to type certify the Epic LT, something the original owners had started but never completed. As part of this plan the company entered into negotiations with Cessna in December 2012 to buy the former Columbia Aircraft plant that Cessna owns in Bend. The company indicated that it expects to hire 40-80 new employees in 2013 as part of the certification effort and to expand kit production.
By 2014 the company was engaged in certification of the Epic E1000 and had purchased the former Cessna 204,000 sq ft (19,000 m2) facility in Bend, Oregon that had once produced the Columbia Aircraft line. By October 2014 the company reported that it had 60 orders for the E1000. The company forecasts selling 50 aircraft per year.
Schrameck was arrested for fraud in March 2015 in Los Angeles and held in federal custody awaiting trial. The detention order filed indicated that he should not be released due to a high risk of "flight to foreign country". On 27 March 2015, Schramek pleaded not guilty in US District Court to eight counts of wire fraud, four counts of mail fraud and six counts of money laundering regarding his dealings with Epic and its customers. The case alleges that Schramek deliberately defrauded customers of more than US$14 million.
None of these types has yet been certified, and some remain only design projects:
- LT is a 6-place experimental turbo-prop airplane.
- Victory is an experimental single-engine jet.
- E1000 is a six-place turbo-prop airplane under development in 2015 for certification forecast in 2016.
- Escape is a 92% scaled version of the Epic LT, with 4-5 seats.
- Elite is an experimental twin-engine jet, initially intended as a kit aircraft, which the company plans to certify later. It utilises an LT model fuselage with cosmetic and structural changes.
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- Schrader, Mike (3 February 2014). "FAA Certification On Schedule For Epic Aircraft" (PDF). Epic Aircraft. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
- Sarsfield, Kate (21 October 2014), "Epic E1000 turboprop-single makes show debut", Flightglobal (Reed Business Information), retrieved 31 October 2014
- Kauh, Elaine (9 April 2015). "Former Epic CEO Pleads Not Guilty To Fraud Charges". AVweb. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
- "Epic E1000 Prototype Completes First Flight". AVweb. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
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