Eclipse Aviation expected to have delivered its first Eclipse 500 very light jet by the time this issue was printed, according to Eclipse president and CEO Vern Raburn. The Model 500 received full FAA type certification on September 30, although flight-into-known-icing approval remains pending and some avionics functionality will not be available until next year.
About 30 years ago, a U.S. executive jet manufacturer was upset by a pilot’s handling report that dubbed his product “a businessman’s fighter.” The company’s concern was that enthusiastic but inexperienced pilots might take liberties with the aircraft, with decidedly unpredictable results.
Just a week before EBACE opened, air-limo start-up DayJet of Delray Beach, Florida, announced it would start its “per-seat, on-demand” jet service in the southeastern U.S. this November with Eclipse 500 VLJs.
Eclipse Aviation founder and CEO Vern Raburn is convinced Europe will be fertile ground for his Eclipse 500 very light jet, in spite of critics who say the airplane will struggle as an air taxi in the restrictive operating environment on this side of the Atlantic.
German charter operator Cirrus Aviation is to operate Eclipse 500s on behalf of UK-based group JetSet Air, which ordered up to 50 of the new very light jets last November. JetSet Air managing director David Bond also announced yesterday that he has begun negotiations with Embraer for the purchase of up to 10 Phenom 100 VLJs for delivery by 2009. The first two Eclipse 500s will arrive in spring 2007.
HighTech Finishing (Booth No. 1379) last year had its best 12 months since 2001. The Texas company, which supplies decorative plating for aircraft interior fittings, attributes this strong performance to demand for new aircraft as well as increased activity in refurbishment of older aircraft.
Eclipse founder, president and CEO Vern Raburn likens the potential for the mass air-taxi market that he envisions to the network effect that took hold as e-mail gained its burgeoning following.
Very light jet air-taxi hopeful Pogo will likely “not launch operations before 2009,” according to company CEO and former American Airlines boss Robert Crandall. Initially, Pogo was planning on getting a VLJ operation off the ground this year with Adam A700s.
DayJet, which plans to start per-seat, on-demand operations using Eclipse 500s in November, yesterday unveiled its five initial DayPorts (service cities), all of them in Florida: Boca Raton, Gainesville, Lakeland, Pensacola and Tallahassee. DayJet chose these cities because each represents a “strong and growing local economy and business environment that is underserved” by airlines.
Eclipse Aviation said it will not make its anticipated “late June” certification of the Eclipse 500 very light twinjet, citing supplier issues. The company disclosed Sunday that “continued supplier delays” will push back FAA certification “by another several weeks.” For the last few months the company said it has been plagued by supplier problems, blaming them for preventing a previous certification target of March 31.