Modifications under way, Eclipse focuses on parts
Eclipse Aerospace held a supplier summit on October 27 for manufacturers and vendors of Eclipse EA500 very light jet components. Eclipse Aerospace purchased the assets of bankrupt manufacturer Eclipse Aviation on September 1 and is focusing on supporting the existing fleet of EA500 VLJs. Not all suppliers plan to continue making EA500 parts, according to an Eclipse Aerospace customer communiqué issued October 5, “and our team is in the process of qualifying new sources for these parts.”
The FAA and EASA formally reinstated the EA500’s U.S. and European type certificates on September 30, three years to the day from when the jet’s original full FAA type certificate was issued, and by some reports, after $1.3 billion was spent on the program through the final bankruptcy earlier this year.
Eclipse Aerospace’s Chicago service center began flight-into-known-icing (FIKI) and AvioNG 1.5 avionics upgrades on four EA500s last month. Price of the combined mod package is $149,000 for EA500s equipped with the correct de-icing boots and AvioNG avionics. The FIKI package will not be offered as a separate mod but must be done with AvioNG 1.5, which includes flight plan display on the MFD, Waas on the PFD, coupled autopilot with roll steering, improved autopilot engagement in turbulence and Stormscope functionality. Eclipse Aerospace is studying additional AvioNG 1.5 capabilities that it hopes to offer, including autothrottle, FMS, moving map and XM weather, according to the communiqué.
The old Eclipse Aviation bundled items such as Jeppesen nav databases in maintenance service packages, but Eclipse Aerospace negotiated an agreement so EA500 owners can now purchase the updates directly from Jeppesen.
Parts availability continues to be a problem for EA500 owners, but Eclipse Aerospace is working with the FAA on how to restart the quality inspection process so that it can distribute parts already in inventory. “We have implemented the first phase of this parts inspection process and are now shipping parts as quickly as they can be inspected,” the company explained. “Over the next few weeks we will be able to greatly improve the timing between parts request and actual delivery.”
In September, Eclipse Aerospace closed its Gainesville, Ga. and Albany, N.Y. service centers and moved all equipment and tools to Eclipse’s Chicago service center.
Eclipse Aerospace plans to refurbish and resell older EA500s, and the company recently relaunched its brokerage service to facilitate sales of used EA500s. Eclipse Aerospace plans to refurbish and sell the 28 former DayJet EA500s.
The company has also re-started fatigue testing on the EA500 airframe, to extend its life beyond the current limit of 10,000 hours or cycles or 10 years.
Eclipse Aerospace planned to have its Albuquerque, N.M. service center open last month and restart simulator training soon.
Meanwhile, independent companies continue to offer maintenance services to Eclipse owners. Eclipse Aero Solutions recently moved into a new hangar at Double Eagle II Airport in Albuquerque. The company is offering 24-month/300-hour inspections, service bulletin compliance, Garmin 400w GPS upgrades, Collins 4000 DME upgrades, maintenance management and pre-buy and pre-sale inspections.