While it is normal for a start-up to experience teething troubles, Eclipse Aviation president and CEO Vern Raburn conceded in letters sent last week to Eclipse 500 customers that his company has had “far more challenges than we anticipated.” For some time, serious problems–what Raburn calls a “perfect storm”–have plagued virtually every aspect of development, design and production of the very light twinjet.
VLJ developer Eclipse Aviation announced last week that its relationship with avionics supplier Avidyne has ended. Eclipse plans to announce shortly which companies will supply components for the Model 500’s Avio integrated avionics system. AIN has been told by a source close to the process that Honeywell will be sharing the job with another specialist, thought to be Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S).
Eclipse Aviation’s fourth conforming flight-test aircraft, N505EA, which experienced a gear-up landing on September 4 at Albuquerque International Sunport, will be repaired and back in the air by the end of October, according to a company spokesman. The two pilots on board were not injured during the accident, which Eclipse said was caused by pilot error.
Shipments of general aviation aircraft last year increased significantly over 2005, resulting in another record high in billings and an all-time high in business jet deliveries.
Scottsdale Ariz.-based fractional operator JetsAmerica is scheduled to take delivery of its first Eclipse 500 by the second week of March, according to company chairman and CEO Brandon Carlson. The company offers quarter-share turnkey ownership in the new very light jet. A one-quarter share will equal 200 hours of real flight time; Carlson says owners won’t be penalized for taxiing or empty positioning flights.
Start-up Spectrum Aeronautical of Los Angeles today unveiled a nine-seat, $3.65 million all-composite very light jet.
The latest Honeywell Aerospace business aviation outlook, released yesterday at the NBAA Convention in Orlando, predicts deliveries of new business jets this year will reach 745, up from 589 last year. Next year, deliveries might exceed 800 bizjets. Looking at the 10-year period through 2015, the forecast predicts deliveries of about 9,900 new business jets, equating to $156 billion in sales.
The stock market is on the upswing, initial public offerings were up this year for the first time since 2000 and the business aviation industry is recovering, but finding investment capital continues to be the biggest obstacle for companies hoping to bring new turbine business airplanes to the market. And for good reason–the last start-up company to build, certify and deliver a business jet was Learjet in 1964.
Eclipse Aviation last month announced that its next two FAA-conforming Model 500 very light jets, N502EA and N504EA, have completed wing mate and are standing on their own gear. These two aircraft will join N503EA, which has been flying since December 31, later this month, rounding out the Eclipse 500 FAA certification flight-test fleet.
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.