Eclipse Aviation is committed to becoming, in the words of its founder, president and CEO, Vern Raburn, “The Ford Motor Company of business aviation.” To that end, it plans to attain an annual production capacity of 1,500 Eclipse 500 very light jets by 2009, using advances in production technology reminiscent of the mass-production assembly line and interchangeable parts innovations with which Henry Ford revolutionized the automobile industry
Only time will tell if Eclipse Aviation’s decision to sever ties with Avidyne and bring in a new team of avionics suppliers for the Eclipse 500 will satisfy buyers, but an early glimpse of what’s coming to the VLJ’s front office looks promising.
The business and corporate side of general aviation should continue to benefit from a growing market for new microjets over the next 14 fiscal years, and the FAA expects business use of GA aircraft to expand at a more rapid pace than that for personal and sport use.
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.
Germany-based aerospace consultant PMI-Media lowered its estimated very light jet (VLJ) delivery schedule for this year, based largely on production difficulties encountered by Eclipse Aviation. In its latest report, PMI predicts total VLJ industry deliveries this year will be cut nearly in half, from 205 to 125. Looking toward the future, the report shows an order backlog of more than 4,000 VLJs from 14 different firms.
When big crowds transit through Wilson Air Center’s Charlotte, N.C. FBO it’s usually because there is a Nascar race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. On March 2, however, the 650 people who filled the Wilson hangar came to see not race cars but a gathering of very light jets and jet mockups.
Enviro Systems of Seminole, Okla., was selected by Cessna to supply the vapor-cycle air conditioning system for the Citation Mustang very light jet. Meanwhile, Ducommun AeroStructure in California will manufacturer all of the airframe skin panels for the Eclipse 500 very light jet. Eclipse Aviation also disclosed that Enaer of Chile will be responsible for the aircraft’s nose assembly structure.
The “right stuff” might be your answer, particularly if you liked what author Tom Wolfe had to say in his recounting of America’s efforts to send a man to space. Was Wolfe referring to what it takes to be the first man on the moon, or was he addressing high-performance vehicles in general?
BAE Systems is out and a number of new suppliers are in, according to Eclipse Aviation officials, who announced the signing of long-term contracts with six additional vendors for the avionics and digital automatic flight controls on the Eclipse 500 after reshuffling the original supplier team.
On the heels of the termination of a training contract with United Airlines (a mutual agreement the companies said), Eclipse Aviation said it is “currently in negotiations” with a new training partner for the Eclipse 500 very light twinjet.