Light aircraft fractional provider OurPlane last week took delivery of the first Eclipse 500 that will be operated under Part 91K fractional aircraft ownership rules. The very light jet, Eclipse 500 S/N 066, is based at SheltAir at Jacksonville International Airport for a corporate customer. According to OurPlane, this event marks the launch of the company’s nationwide fractional VLJ aircraft service.
Airplane programs traditionally began in one of two ways: either as a conceptual design, such as the Eclipse 500, which the manufacturer used to drum up deposits for future sales; or as a proof-of-concept prototype (POC), which is basically a full-size flying model airplane designed to show off the design’s attributes, and whose would-be manufacturers are also seeking deposits.
Eclipse Aviation surprised the crowds assembled for the opening of this year’s EAA AirVenture show with a new four-place single-engine Eclipse Concept Jet (ECJ). While unveiling a mockup of the ECJ fuselage, Eclipse COO Peg Billson mentioned the jet’s 345-knot maximum cruise speed, 41,000-foot maximum altitude and 1,250-nm range with IFR reserves.
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).
Eclipse Aviation’s announcement of a 180-airplane order at EBACE signaled the launch of a very light jet (VLJ) air-taxi operation that will be based in Turkey. The order was placed by Eclipse Eastern European distributor Etirc Aviation, which will also be responsible for helping Eclipse obtain Turkish certification of the Model 500.
Eclipse Aviation selected two companies-Higher Power Aviation of Dallas and Flight Simulation of the Netherlands-to run the model 500 VLJ pilot training program. Flight Simulation will oversee the Eclipse 500 training program, and Higher Power instructors will train U.S. pilots at Eclipse's Albuquerque, N.M. headquarters and eventually at Eclipse's new training facility at nearby Double Eagle II Airport.
After selling what it claims is 2,100 Eclipse 500s at between $837,500 and $950,000 apiece, Eclipse Aviation has increased the price on new orders for its very light twinjet to $1.175 million (all prices in June 2000 dollars). First flight of the six-seat aircraft powered by its intended production engine–a pair of 900-pound-thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F turbofans–is scheduled for December 31.
Given their current predicaments, Eclipse Aviation and Sino Swearingen share some similarities. Both start-up OEMs have found the money and overcome the adversity to earn type certificates for their jets despite major setbacks and industry naysayers.
It will likely surprise AIN readers to learn that Eclipse Aviation has changed its plans for initial and recurrent pilot training by forming an alliance with United Airlines.
After an extended gestation period and months of uncertainty about first delivery, Eclipse Aviation delivered its first production very light jet (VLJ). When the FAA awarded an airworthiness certificate for the first production Eclipse 500 in the closing hours of last year the Albuquerque, N.M.-based tyro airframe manufacturer immediately initiated a virtual “delivery” in which the co-owners completed the documents via fax.