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.
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.
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.
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.
Eclipse Aviation has released the final performance numbers for the Eclipse 500, and it meets or exceeds all of the guarantees but one. Critics missed the mark that the very light jet couldn't meet its high-speed guarantee–Eclipse says the VLJ's top speed is 370 knots, well within the margins. And when it comes to useful load, the aircraft will deliver 2,400 pounds, some 200 pounds more than promised.
Eclipse and its Swiss customer Aviace have entered litigation over the delivery of 112 VLJs. Aviace sued the manufacturer early this month for breach of contract for allegedly refusing to deliver the aircraft ordered in 2002. The Swiss company was one of the earliest large customers for the Eclipse 500 very light jet and was established to launch a low-cost air taxi business. Both parties declined to comment while in litigation.
On Saturday, Eclipse Aviation received FAA type certification for the Eclipse 500, nine months later than originally planned when the company announced in early 2003 that it would have to modify the design due to switching from the Williams EJ22 turbofan to the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F.