Only time will tell if Eclipse Aviation’s decision to sever ties with Avidyne and bring in a new team of avionics suppliers for the Eclipse 500 will satisfy buyers, but an early glimpse of what’s coming to the VLJ’s front office looks promising.
Given their current predicaments, Eclipse Aviation and Sino Swearingen share some similarities. Both start-up OEMs have found the money and overcome the adversity to earn type certificates for their jets despite major setbacks and industry naysayers.
Germany-based aerospace consultant PMI-Media lowered its estimated very light jet (VLJ) delivery schedule for this year, based largely on production difficulties encountered by Eclipse Aviation. In its latest report, PMI predicts total VLJ industry deliveries this year will be cut nearly in half, from 205 to 125. Looking toward the future, the report shows an order backlog of more than 4,000 VLJs from 14 different firms.
Enviro Systems of Seminole, Okla., was selected by Cessna to supply the vapor-cycle air conditioning system for the Citation Mustang very light jet. Meanwhile, Ducommun AeroStructure in California will manufacturer all of the airframe skin panels for the Eclipse 500 very light jet. Eclipse Aviation also disclosed that Enaer of Chile will be responsible for the aircraft’s nose assembly structure.
BAE Systems is out and a number of new suppliers are in, according to Eclipse Aviation officials, who announced the signing of long-term contracts with six additional vendors for the avionics and digital automatic flight controls on the Eclipse 500 after reshuffling the original supplier team.
On the heels of the termination of a training contract with United Airlines (a mutual agreement the companies said), Eclipse Aviation said it is “currently in negotiations” with a new training partner for the Eclipse 500 very light twinjet.
Eclipse Aviation and Aspen Avionics last month settled a patent dispute over the AT300 hazard awareness display. Under the settlement agreement, Eclipse dropped a competing patent claim in exchange for 1 percent of Aspen common stock. The VLJ maker had contended that Aspen cofounders Peter Lyons and Jeff Bethel developed the AT300 product while they worked at Eclipse and, therefore, the patent for the product should belong to Eclipse.
One week after revealing that Avidyne’s involvement in the program has ended, Eclipse Aviation today named a number of replacement suppliers for the Eclipse 500’s Avio avionics system.
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).