Eclipse Aviation selected radar manufacturer Japan Radio to provide a new weather radar that will come standard in the Eclipse 500 very light jet. The original Honeywell radar will be an extra-cost option, but the Japan Radio radar will not be retrofittable to Eclipse 500s already equipped with the Honeywell radars, according to Vern Raburn, Eclipse president and CEO.
Eclipse Aviation surprised the hordes assembled for the opening of this year’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh show with a new four-place single-engine Eclipse Concept Jet (ECJ).
As plans move ahead for certification of the Eclipse 500 in early 2006, Eclipse Aviation unveiled details of its six-phase pilot training program. The Eclipse Jet Basics Self-Paced Study Course is a five-part series of CD-based modules that provide an overview of jet aircraft and the operating environment to assist pilots in the transition from propeller-driven airplanes to jets.
Camilo Salomon, president and CEO of Safire Aircraft, said he
has faced do-or-die situations before, but not in the aviation world, where, he says, every move he makes is examined by critics– qualified to judge or not. Having never worked in aviation before, he thought raising money to produce the company’s six-place twinjet would be easier.
Eclipse Aviation has submitted a final report to the FAA detailing tests of a pitot/angle-of-attack probe fix for the Eclipse 500 VLJ and expects FAA approval shortly. An Airworthiness Directive (2007-13-11) effective June 27 limits operations to day VFR with two pilots due to a moisture freezing problem that occurred during three test flights.
Aspen Avionics, the small Albuquerque, N.M. start-up firm that made headlines earlier this year after staving off a patent lawsuit filed by Eclipse Aviation, is preparing to break into the big time with a new line of cockpit products scheduled to make their debut later this month at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis.
Air-taxi operators and potential operators used a recent VLJ forum, “Business Models for VLJs and Light Jets,” to outline their plans for using the new class of jets to offer point-to-point service.
Eclipse Aviation president and CEO Vern Raburn acknowledged in a customer/investor update dated June 10 that there is a lengthy wait between delivery of new Eclipse 500 VLJs and pilot training. “Unfortunately,” he wrote, “we did not adequately plan our staffing levels and have thus fallen behind schedule.”
Eclipse Aviation will open its first factory-owned service center in Gainesville, Fla., tomorrow. The Avio NG avionics system is behind schedule, according to a June 10 Eclipse customer/investor update, but the new avionics have been installed in a flight-test 500 and powered up. Flight testing should start later this month, according to Eclipse.
It’s been more than seven years since Vern Raburn launched the Eclipse 500, a small, low-cost very light jet that he predicted would bring “disruptive technology” to aviation. At the time, the model 500 was to sell for $775,000 (in 2000 $), have a 44-cents-per-mile direct operating cost and be powered by tiny Williams International EJ22 engines. Certification and deliveries were expected in 2003.