Eclipse Aviation is facing further issues in its effort to begin deliveries of its very light jet and sent a 12-page letter to customers November 14 outlining wing-attach fitting and cockpit window cracking problems. Following receipt of FAA type certification on September 30, Eclipse has yet to deliver its first airplane but expects to do so within days, president and CEO Vern Raburn told AIN.
The world of business aviation woke up to a surprise here at the Paris Air Show today with the unforeseen launch of a highly versatile new private jet. The all-composite Grob SPn Utility Jet is both a niche-filler and challenger, offered by its developers as the long-awaited successor to Raytheon’s Beechcraft King Air workhorses and a more-industrious alternative to the emerging crop of light executive jets.
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.
The new Eclipse 500 very light jet isn’t physically here in Singapore but its U.S. manufacturer is convinced that it has a bright future in the Asia/Pacific region. “If the show had been even two or three months later we would have brought an Eclipse 500 for the static display but the big issue right now is time available for flight testing.
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.
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.