It’s been more than seven years since Vern Raburn launched the Eclipse 500, a small, low-cost very light jet that he predicted would bring “disruptive technology” to aviation. At the time, the model 500 was to sell for $775,000 (in 2000 $), have a 44-cents-per-mile direct operating cost and be powered by tiny Williams International EJ22 engines. Certification and deliveries were expected in 2003. It’s now June 2007, and it’s time to remove the Eclipse 500 from the In The Works chart. Generally, AIN keeps a new airplane on the chart until it has received a production certificate from regulators, and Eclipse received its FAA production certificate on April 27.
The model 500 has grown a bit since the launch and now costs $1.52 million (June 2006 $) and is powered by larger 900-pound-thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F engines. While Eclipse still has some issues to work on, such as aerodynamic and fuel tank modifications and a new integrated avionics system, bringing a new jet to market from scratch is a remarkable accomplishment. Now it’s the airplane’s turn to show the aviation industry what it can do out in the field, and AIN will continue to report on Eclipse developments elsewhere in the magazine. If Raburn’s original plans come to fruition, someday there might be another Eclipse model on the drawing board and on the In The Works chart.