American VLJ to be built for Eastern Europeans
Tbilisi Aircraft Manufacturing (TAM) has concluded an agreement with Oregon-based Epic Aircraft to license-build the Epic Jet and market it in East Europe. The all carbon fiber aircraft powered by two Williams FJ33 engines is scheduled to begin flight trials in the first quarter of next year, leading to certification in mid-2007.
Offering seven seats (including the pilot), the Epic Jet can fly a full passenger load including baggage and full fuel for 1,600 nm. The new VLJ has a 41,000-foot service ceiling and a 420-knot maximum cruise speed. A Garmin 1000 avionics panel has been selected by Epic.
The U.S. company has trained some TAM personnel to work with carbon fiber and the firm, based in former Soviet republic of Georgia, will supply some parts to Epic before beginning production of complete aircraft in Tbilisi. Rick Schrameck, Epic’s president and CEO, is at the show to also promote the six-seat LT powered by a single Pratt & Whitney PT6, although this is not part of the license agreement with TAM.
But TAM also has its own projects in the form of the TAMJet powered by two Williams FJ-33-4 engines, an example of which began flight trials this year, while the TAM Alien is a business jet project currently the subject of a study together with Tsikolia Design.