Eclipse Courts the Single Crowd

 - July 24, 2007, 11:34 AM

Eclipse Aviation surprised the hordes assembled for the opening of this year’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh show with a new four-place single-engine Eclipse Concept Jet (ECJ). As Eclipse COO Peg Billson unveiled a mockup of the ECJ fuselage and mentioned the jet’s 345-knot maximum cruise speed, 41,000-foot maximum altitude and 1,250-nm range with IFR reserves, the sound of a lone Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F engine could be heard outside the curtain enclosing the company’s Oshkosh display area. As the curtain parted, the ECJ taxied up and Eclipse president and CEO Vern Raburn and test pilot Terry Tomeny climbed out. Eclipse currently has no plans to certify the ECJ but will use it to test the market for a single-engine jet. The ECJ fuselage is fiberglass from the nose through the cockpit and carbon fiber from the cockpit back, including the V-tail empennage. Wings (minus tip tanks) and other systems are from the Eclipse 500. Raburn said that Eclipse is not yet taking orders for the jet, and will decide in a year whether to go ahead with development, expected to take 36 months. Thus far, the ECJ, which was built in Wallops Island, Va., by Eclipse partner Swift Engineering, has flown 27.5 hours since its first flight on July 2.