There are not many single-engine turboprop airplanes on the market for the Epic E1000 to compete against once it achieves certification. However, its high-speed cruise numbers and roomy cabin might help the Epic even win some light jet prospects, at least those who don’t demand the extra engine. In addition to its speed, the E1000 boasts impressive range, payload and short-field performance. Until Epic has more history under its belt, buyers might be wary of a startup with a still-developing support network.
Daher-Socata surprised the world when it introduced the certified TBM 900, a modified version of the TBM 850, earlier this year. With a top speed of 330 knots, the TBM 900 is officially the fastest single-engine airplane on the market today. However, the E1000 may be able to snatch the crown away from the French design if it can reach the speeds I experienced in the LT. The panel of the TBM 900, however, currently has a leg up on the Epic’s with its integrated GFC 700 autopilot, which also incorporates envelope protection.
At 390 knots the updated Phenom 100E twinjet is a lot faster than the Epic. It also offers more space with room for up to eight people and an optional toilet, which provides greater range capabilities for the occupants. The Phenom is the only airplane on this list with a significant external baggage compartment, which is why its passenger cabin is shorter. With all these capabilities the price tag for the Phenom 100E is also significantly greater than that of the E1000.
The first Eclipse 550 was delivered this year after the airplane design was brought back from bankruptcy. The price delta is nearly zero between the twinjet and the turboprop, but they are significantly different airplanes. While the 550 is a speedster — about 50 knots faster than the E1000 — and has its own integrated high-tech avionics suite, its cabin is nearly 3 feet shorter, it carries a much lighter load, and it won’t take you as far as the E1000. For quick, short hops with three or four people on board, the Eclipse could be a good option.
Pilatus PC-12 NG**
The Pilatus PC-12 has a track record that dates back two decades. Priced at $4.582 million, the PC-12 NG is the king of versatility. Its cabin offers room for eight and significantly more space than the E1000’s does. The Pilatus’ optional cargo door makes for easy loading, and there is an airstair door in the front as well, making it a great platform for executive travel, cargo, air ambulance and more. The PC-12’s tough landing gear also allows you to land pretty much anywhere. But if you don’t need to haul a heavy load, the E1000 offers greater speed and range capabilities, and its takeoff performance beats out its Swiss competitor’s too.
Piper PA-46 Meridian**
The Meridian was introduced in 2001 by Piper, one of a few surviving airplane companies from the early days of mass-produced airplanes. Like the E1000 it is powered by a PT6 engine and seats six, and it is a terrific airplane for the budget-conscious turboprop owner, with an introductory price of $2.2 million. The E1000 will likely beat the Meridian’s top speed by more than 60 knots, and the load capacity and cabin size of the E1000 are greater as well.
Read more about the Epic E1000 in our “We Fly: Epic LT” feature.
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