BERLIN - German authorities have begun recovering the bodies of three people, believed to include one of Russia's richest women, who were killed in Sunday's crash of a six-seat amateur-built "kit plane" developed by Bend's Epic Aircraft.
The dpa news agency reported Monday that authorities were unable to recover the bodies or examine the charred wreck earlier due to darkness.
Russian airline S7 Group said co-owner Natalia Fileva was aboard the single-engine, six-seat Epic LT aircraft, which crashed and burned in a field as it approached the small airport at Egelsbach near Frankfurt on a flight from Cannes.
Fileva’s husband and S7 group co-owner Vladislav Filev is listed as chair of the company’s board of directors, according to a 2018 financial statement on the company's website.
S7 acquired Epic Aircraft back in 2012 and Filev has been funding efforts to gain FAA certification of the E1000, based on the LT design. The business publication Forbes.ru has estimated Fileva's fortune at $600 million.
German police have said there were two Russian citizens on board but haven't provided any positive identification of the occupants yet.
The cause of the crash is still unclear.
Epic Aircraft in Bend issued this statement on Sunday:
"Epic Aircraft has become aware of an aircraft accident, on a private flight, that occurred on March 31st, 2019 in Egelsbach, Germany - involving an Epic kit-built aircraft.
"Tragically we have learned that there were no survivors. The Epic Aircraft family wishes to extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the families involved in this tragedy, and we stand ready to support them in any way possible."
On Epic's website, a statement reads, "The entire Epic community is devastated by the loss of Natalia Fileva. Condolences can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your support during this very difficult time."
As of last year, Epic Aircraft had 230 employees at its factory, based at the Bend Airport, placing it 32nd among Central Oregon's 50 largest private employers, according to Economic Development for Central Oregon's annual ranking.
Last July, Epic reported successfully completing E1000 structural testing as it worked toward FAA certification, which it said was on schedule for the fourth quarter of 2018. The company said customer deliveries of the $3.25 million plane were expected to start early this year.