In The Works: Eclipse 500

 - November 1, 2006, 8:46 AM

The Eclipse 500 program continued to gain steam last month with the successful first flights of the second (N502EA) and third (N504EA) certification flight-test aircraft. They join N503EA, the first Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F-powered Eclipse 500, which has been flying since December 31.

During its 1.5-hour maiden flight, N502EA took off on April 14 at 12:55 p.m. MDT from Albuquerque International Sunport and was flown by test pilots Ed Grabman and Brian Mathy. The crew conducted handling tests at various flap settings and flap and trim operations, in addition to cabin pressurization and electrical system testing. During its maiden flight, the aircraft climbed to 15,000 feet and reached 160 knots.

One week later on April 21, N504EA–also piloted by Grabman and Mathy from the same Albuquerque airport–took off at 2:10 p.m. MDT and completed a one-hour first flight, successfully accomplishing all required initial tests.

All three test Eclipse 500s are fitted with mechanical systems, including pressurization, climate control, ice protection and the Avio Total Aircraft Integration system. N502EA–which features special test equipment such as a nose-mounted air data boom, flutter exciter system, pilot egress system and stall chute–will be used to test aerodynamics and structures. N504EA flight testing will primarily focus on the electrical system, displays and the communication, navigation, autopilot, radar and datalink systems.

Eclipse Aviation president and CEO Vern Raburn noted, “To fly our third aircraft just a week after the second one entered flight testing is a great achievement and a clear sign of the maturity of the program.” Eclipse expects its $1.175 million twinjet to receive FAA approval in March next year.

Meanwhile, last month N503EA had amassed 41.7 hours in 18 flights, for a total of 59.7 flight hours. The aircraft also climbed to 30,000 feet for the first time.