Eclipse Aerospace (Booth No. C10844) ceremonially delivered the first Eclipse 550 yesterday at NBAA 2013, marking the first aircraft to come off its revived production line since its predecessor company filed for bankruptcy and shut down in 2007. The new twinjet builds upon the “proven and reliable” Eclipse 500, adding more range, upgraded avionics and improved cabin comfort.
“You’ve all heard that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” Eclipse CEO Mason Holland said yesterday at the ceremony. “Well, let me tell you–what happens in Vegas today for Eclipse, we tell the world!”
Serial number 265 will officially be delivered to its customer, Fred Phillips, in the coming weeks after three minor modifications are approved by the FAA. These approvals–for the very light jet’s synthetic vision system and enhanced vision system cable connection–were expected before the NBAA show but approvals were held up by the 16-day-long U.S. government shutdown earlier this month, Holland told AIN.
This is the third Eclipse purchased by Phillips. “We upgraded his first one to the Total Eclipse configuration,” Holland said. “Then he bought a Total Eclipse, and now he has the first Eclipse 550. He really loves the airplane.”
Bruce Dickinson–the lead singer from rock band Iron Maiden and a former airline pilot, as well as the non-executive chairman of Eclipse’s UK distributor Aeris Aviation–spoke highly of the Eclipse 550 at the ceremony. “This airplane is the only true very light jet in the market,” he said, gesturing to the Eclipse 550 on the show floor. “The other manufacturers just took big-aircraft designs and made them into small jets. Eclipse didn’t do that.” Dickinson earned his Eclipse 550 type rating, training over a two-week period last month while on tour with Iron Maiden in the U.S.
According to Holland, Eclipse plans to deliver five or six more Eclipse 550s by year-end. Eclipse plans to produce about two aircraft per month and, while the factory eventually could be ramped up to as much as 10 per month, Holland said he wants the company “to grow at a pace slightly slower than the market.”
The company took four orders yesterday morning here at NBAA 2013, helping it to build the backlog for the $2.895 million Eclipse 550. Holland said there are still delivery positions available for 2014, though he is hopeful that these slots can largely be filled by the end of the show.