A federal judge in Albuquerque, N.M., Friday denied Aviace’s plea for preliminary injunction against Eclipse Aviation as part of the Swiss firm’s lawsuit alleging Eclipse violated a March 2002 sales contract. The suit accused Eclipse of wrongly canceling the order for Aviace’s first Eclipse 500 and declaring the initial deposit on that aircraft forfeited.
Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse Aviation, was flanked by some 200 company employees this afternoon at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., to announce provisional FAA certification for the Eclipse 500. “We have proved all the naysayers wrong,” he said. This marks the first agency approval for a very light jet, though the current certification is with “significantly reduced avionics functionality,” according to Raburn.
The Cessna Citation Mustang on Friday became the first of a new segment of aircraft known as very light jets (VLJ) to be fully FAA type certified. Its Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F powerplant was FAA certified on the same day. According to Cessna, the type certification (TC) includes approval for the following operations: single-pilot, day, night, IMC and RVSM.
Three of the major players in the very light jet (VLJ) arena appeared before the Senate aviation subcommittee to address concerns that the new breed of aircraft will present insuperable challenges for the ATC system. Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton; Eclipse Aviation president Vern Raburn; and DayJet founder Ed Iacobucci took their case to Capitol Hill. Joining them were two top FAA officials and an aviation consultant.
Mecaer America (Booth No.1047) announced delivery of its first five landing gear shipsets to Eclipse Aviation for the recently certified Eclipse 500 VLJ. The delivery was made on September 29. Previously, Mecaer’s parent company, Mecaer S.p.A. of Borgomanero, Italy, delivered 30 landing gear shipsets to Albuquerque, N.M.-based Eclipse.
Eclipse Aviation CEO Vern Raburn surprised the attendees at a packed NBAA press conference yesterday when he predicted the company would build 525 airplanes by the end of next year. He also hinted that Eclipse already has firm plans for a follow-on aircraft model, but he would not elaborate further.
Swiss firm Aviace is suing Eclipse Aviation of Albuquerque, N.M., for alleged breach of contract over its refusal to deliver the first of 112 Eclipse 500 very light jets. Aviace has asked the court to prevent Eclipse from canceling the contract, reassigning delivery positions to others and expending any of Aviace’s initial deposit.
Eclipse Aviation received FAA type certification for the Eclipse 500 on September 30, becoming the second very light jet manufacturer to achieve the milestone approval behind Cessna, which had the card for its Citation Mustang VLJ punched a few weeks earlier.
On December 11 the first Eclipse 500 certification flight-test aircraft, N503EA, rolled out from the start-up manufacturer’s Albuquerque, N.M. facility. Though the very light jet emerged from the plant with two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F turbofan engines, one was a “flight on ground” engine that was swapped out about a week later with an airworthy powerplant before the first flight, which was “imminent” as of December 22.
The Eclipse 500 program continued to gain steam last month with the successful first flights of the second (N502EA) and third (N504EA) certification flight-test aircraft. They join N503EA, the first Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F-powered Eclipse 500, which has been flying since December 31.