Germany-based aerospace consultancy PMI-Media has lowered its estimated very light jet (VLJ) delivery schedule for this year based on production difficulties Eclipse Aviation has encountered. In its latest report, PMI says total VLJ industry deliveries have been reduced by nearly half, from 205 to 125.
Eclipse Aviation unveiled its home-grown PhostrEx fire-suppression system for the Eclipse 500 today at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. According to the Albuquerque, N.M.-based company, its recently FAA-certified PhostrEx system weighs 90 percent less than a Halon fire-suppression system since two teaspoons of PhostrEx is equivalent to 2.5 cups of Halon.
With a firm order for 10 Eclipse 500s and an option for 10 more, London, Ontario-based OurPlane becomes the first fractional customer for the very light jet, scheduled to enter service early next year. Unlike other fractional operations, OurPlane sells shares only in one-quarter increments. Eclipse 500 share prices start at $349,900, with a monthly fixed cost of $3,500 and hourly operating costs of $369, without a pilot.
Swiss-based Aviace, which ordered 112 Eclipse 500 very light jets in 2002, has put its “jet club” plans on hold until the aircraft is in the final stages of European certification. “We want to know when the aircraft is actually certified in Europe before making any definite announcement,” Aviace CEO Wilfried Koeck told AIN.
Eclipse Aviation delivered to DayJet its first three Eclipse 500 VLJs on March 31, bringing Eclipse’s delivery total to five. While its airplanes await a third ADAHRS for Part 135 operations, DayJet is using its initial deliveries to train pilots for air-taxi services. Eclipse also released draft section 5 of the Eclipse 500 AFM, for the final configuration with aerodynamic mods, aluminum tip tanks and Avio NG avionics.
Business aviation continues to be a bright spot in the FAA’s annual aviation forecast, with top executives of two business jet manufacturers and the leading fractional ownership provider presenting generally upbeat assessments at the agency’s Aviation Forecast Conference in Washington, D.C., in late March.
Business flying is definitely up, and so are fuel prices. But, at least so far, aircraft operators aren’t protesting at the pump too bitterly about what they’re paying for jet-A.
The economy is emerging from the soup not with the sudden clarity of a westbound flight through the shattered remnants of a cold front, but more as if it were groping its way through the patchy passing of a stubborn warm front. Against this backdrop, business aviation met in Geneva, Switzerland, and dared to hope that the improvement is durable enough to mark a sustained upswing in the economic cycle.
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.
The regional NBAA forum at West Palm Beach International (PBI), Fla., on March 10 served a slice of business aviation with complex ingredients. Fractional ownership has added occupants to the back of the cabin without always expanding the industry pie.