In The Works: Eclipse 500

 - October 5, 2006, 5:56 AM

Eclipse Aviation’s fourth conforming Eclipse 500–and the first of its two beta-test jets–joined the flight-test fleet last month. As the company’s certification program advances, the two beta-test aircraft will be tested under accelerated usage conditions to ensure reliability and functionality before first customer deliveries next spring.

On July 9, N505EA took off from Albuquerque International Sunport for a 43-minute flight. During the very light jet’s first flight, the pilots climbed the aircraft to 15,000 feet and reached 160 knots. The aircraft also completed several scheduled test points.

N505EA is fully equipped with mechanical systems including pressurization, climate control and ice protection, as well as with Avio Total Aircraft Integration.

Eclipse Aviation president and CEO Vern Raburn noted, “With four out of five of our flight-test aircraft now in the air, we are generating rich data and invaluable learnings every day that will allow us to continue to move aggressively toward FAA certification next year.”

Over the past six months the Eclipse test fleet has logged 150 flight hours, and the aircraft envelope has been expanded to 230 knots and 30,000 feet. The test program has also proven the Eclipse 500’s handling characteristics and validated aircraft and systems design.

N506EA–the final flight-test aircraft and the second beta aircraft–is in its final assembly position and will fly later this summer, joining N502EA, 503EA, 504EA and 505EA. N502EA, the aerodynamics and structures test aircraft, will soon finish envelope expansion and flutter testing. N503EA is the mechanical systems aircraft. N504EA is flight testing the avionics and electrical systems, including navigation and communications systems, flight displays, autopilot operation and lighting systems.