Eclipse Aerospace launched production of the Model 550 twin-engine very light jet on Friday in conjunction with its first international Eclipse dealer and sales conference, which was attended by dealers from more than 30 countries. During the meeting at Eclipse’s Albuquerque, N.M. headquarters, technicians mated the forward keel to the fuselage of 550 Serial Number 1001, which will be delivered to a customer next year.
Production for 2013 is already sold out to U.S. customers, according to Eclipse chairman and CEO Mason Holland, and orders taken from the international dealers will be delivered during 2014 and 2015. “We’re now in production with the new 550; it’s all eyes forward now,” he told AIN. “The production announcement was exciting for everybody so now they know the commitment is there.”
The $2.695 million Eclipse 550 has the same airframe and engines as the Model 500, with the Innovative Solutions & Support Avio IFMS avionics suite and new capabilities such as synthetic vision, enhanced vision, autothrottles and Tcas. The first ten 550s will be built entirely in Albuquerque, then major airframe component manufacturing will be transitioned to United Technologies-owned PZL Mielec in Poland, with final assembly in Albuquerque. Sikorsky, also a United Technologies company, is a minority shareholder of Eclipse Aerospace.