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.
In a letter sent yesterday to Eclipse 500 buyers, Eclipse Aviation outlined design changes to help the very light twinjet achieve promised performance goals. Changes include larger metal tip tanks, which add three gallons to the previously announced 16.5 per side, for a total of 19.5 gallons per tank. Total fuel capacity will be 1,668 pounds, while mtow will remain 5,920 pounds, for a decrease in useful load of 40 pounds.
Eclipse Aviation has scored a first-round knockout in a lawsuit filed against it this September by PA Aviace, following U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo’s November 10 denial of Aviace’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the Albuquerque manufacturer of the Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ). Aviace filed for voluntary dismissal of its suit three days later.
Swiss firm Aviace is suing Eclipse Aviation of Albuquerque, N.M., for alleged breach of contract over its refusal to deliver the first of 112 Eclipse 500 very light jets. Aviace has asked the court to prevent Eclipse from canceling the contract, reassigning delivery positions to others and expending any of Aviace’s initial deposit.
On December 11 the first Eclipse 500 certification flight-test aircraft, N503EA, rolled out from the start-up manufacturer’s Albuquerque, N.M. facility. Though the very light jet emerged from the plant with two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F turbofan engines, one was a “flight on ground” engine that was swapped out about a week later with an airworthy powerplant before the first flight, which was “imminent” as of December 22.
The first public flight exhibition for the Eclipse 500 very light jet is planned on July 27 during the annual EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., from July 25 to 31. “We think Oshkosh is the perfect showcase, because of its huge audience and reputation for fostering innovations,” said Eclipse Aviation president and CEO Vern Raburn.
Eclipse Aviation selected Opinicus of Clearwater, Fla., to be the exclusive supplier of flight-training devices and simulators for the Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ). The first Eclipse 500 simulator is scheduled to be delivered to Eclipse training partner United Airlines Flight Training Center in Denver early next year, coinciding with the expected FAA certification of the VLJ.
Eclipse Aviation, of Albuquer-que, New Mexico, said it has overcome the supplier problem, revealed in December, that was blamed for delaying FAA certification by three months from late March to late June. A spokesman told AIN last month that the revised June approval estimate is “looking good.” Icing certification is planned for September.
Eclipse Aviation has begun building a service center at Gainesville-Alachua County Regional Airport, Fla., for its Eclipse 500 very light twinjet. The 61,000-sq-ft-facility, scheduled to open early next year, will offer scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, including work on the aircraft’s P&WC PW610F engine. The Eclipse 500 is scheduled for certification before the end of next month.
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