Albuquerque, N.M.-based Eclipse Aerospace responded Friday to a U.S. Air Force request for information (RFI) concerning possible replacement of the service’s 178 Beechjet 400-based T-1 Jayhawks with very light jets. This is the second time the USAF has put out feelers for VLJs, having issued a broader RFI for these small jets in November 2006.
Eclipse Aerospace’s new 550 very light jet will feature an enhanced vision system (EVS) sensor made by Lexavia. The Lexavia LFS6000 infrared sensor has a 640- by 480-sensor element and 4X zoom. EVS imagery will be displayed on the Eclipse 550’s MFD, which is part of the jet’s Innovative Solutions & Support Avio/IFMS flight deck. The EVS sensor is mounted in a low-profile housing that projects 1.42 inches above the fuselage nose surface.
For the first time in more than four years, new aircraft have emerged from the former Eclipse Aviation final-assembly facility in Albuquerque, N.M. Two unfinished airframes left on the assembly line when that company declared bankruptcy in November 2008 were recently completed by the resurrected company, Eclipse Aerospace, and outfitted as factory-new Total Eclipse twinjets.
This formation of 27 Eclipse light jets was part of a larger group that descended on Branson Airport in Missouri for the Eclipse Owners Club Fall Fly-In last month. Forty-three of the twinjets met up in what was one of the largest gatherings of the same model private jet ever to land on a field at one time. Eclipse Aviation built 261 of the EA500s before it went bankrupt in 2008. Eclipse Aerospace, which acquired the company’s assets, announced it has restarted production with deliveries of the updated Eclipse 550 expected next year.
PPG Aerospace won a contract to supply cockpit windows for the new Eclipse 550, as well as improved-design windshield spares and side-cockpit window spares to Eclipse Aerospace for the existing Eclipse 500 fleet. The lighter-weight glass-faced acrylic windshields for both aircraft will be heated, meet requirements to resist strike by a two-pound bird at 200 knots and have an anti-static coating. The side-cockpit windows will be acrylic. PPG will start cockpit window deliveries to Eclipse in the middle of next year to coincide with deliveries of the first Eclipse 550s.
Eclipse Aerospace took an important and large step toward resuming new production of its light twinjet yesterday. The company placed a production order Innovative Solutions & Support (Booth No. 4331) for the initial 50 of 300 shipsets ordered of the Eclipse 550 Avio integrated flight management system (IFMS), which includes dual FMS, autothrottles, synthetic vision, integrated Taws and enhanced vision system (EVS). The IS&S suite also features electronic circuit breakers, radios, transponders and radar.
It’s been a bit more than three years since Eclipse Aerospace was awarded the assets of bankrupt Eclipse Aviation in August 2009, not quite enough time, perhaps, to fully separate conversations about the former from the mixed record of its predecessor, but Mason Holland, CEO of Eclipse Aerospace, told AIN the company is weary of “Phoenix rising from the ashes” stories and declared it has made considerable progress updating a
Eclipse Aerospace announced last week that an anti-skid braking system will become an available option on new production Eclipse 550 jets as a retrofit item to all existing aircraft. The new anti-skid system adds 17 pounds to the aircraft’s empty weight; the company says it will offer a weight-reduction package to help offset the new feature.
Eclipse Aerospace has added an anti-skid braking system as an option for its new-production Eclipse 550s, and it plans to offer it as a retrofit for in-service Eclipse 500s early next year. Eclipse says that in-aircraft testing of the anti-skid braking system is complete and that it expects to begin delivering certified systems by late March. Performance demonstrated during testing has prompted Eclipse to seek to adjust the aircraft flight manual performance numbers for Eclipse 500s and 550s with the improved braking system.
Sales professionals from more than 30 countries who attended the first International Eclipse Dealer and Sales Conference on May 31 may have noticed a not-so-subtle change to the buildings that house Eclipse Aerospace at the Albuquerque, N.M. International Sunport. Before the meeting, Eclipse CEO Mason Holland arranged for bucket loads of blue paint to be delivered to the company’s facilities, and painters quickly erased the bright orange that had been the hallmark of the old Eclipse Aviation and dabbed on the blue that is the color of Eclipse Aerospace.