A Georgian Web site, finchannel.com, is reporting that Bend, Ore.-based Epic Aircraft has reached a deal with Tblisi-based Tbilaviamsheni (TAM) to certify and build its seven-place Elite light jet in the country, under Russian certification. The news service says the cost of the project is $ 10 million, split between Epic and TAM. Epic did not immediately respond to our request for confirmation of the report. The Elite was introduced at EAA AirVenture in 2007 and is a twin-engine composite aircraft with a predicted range of about 1,600 nm and cruise speed of 410 KTAS.
Epic had plans to certify the Elite in Canada but that deal apparently fell through. At last year´s NBAA convention, Epic announced a $ 200 million investment from Indian airline tycoon Vijay Mallya and a partnership with EADS to develop the certified jets but there have been reports that the deal went sour and that Mallya will pursue his own business-jet venture with EADS. The Georgian press is reporting that Russian certification will take up to 18 months. It also quoted Epic CEO Rick Schrameck as saying he was attracted to TAM by the high quality of the work it does. TAM Chairman Pantiko Tordia was a little more pragmatic. "Epic was seeking a company which would provide high quality. Unfortunately, we have a cheap work force and this is the only reason the Americans got interested in our company," Tordia said.