Nearly three years ago exactly, in October 2008, I was sitting in the back of a Citation CJ1+ headed to the NBAA convention in Orlando, Fla. Lehman Brothers had collapsed two weeks earlier and there was a sentiment of caution and confusion surrounding the financial markets. NBAA 2008 ran from October 4 to 10.
Very light jets
A new revitalized Eclipse VLJ is rising from the ashes of bankruptcy with a boost from Sikorsky’s substantial minority investment. Eclipse Aerospace announced today at the 64th NBAA Annual Meeting and Convention in Las Vegas that it will restart production of new Eclipse jets, dubbed the model 550.
Eclipse Aerospace CEO Mason Holland said the company is currently building two refurbished Total Eclipse jets a month and still hopes to eventually start up a new aircraft production line. “We’ve got pretty good throughput now,” he said, adding that the company’s top priority is supporting the 260 aircraft that came off the production line at the original Eclipse Aviation before it cratered into bankruptcy in 2008.
Court hearings will start December 2 in the lawsuit filed by NBAA and AOPA that seeks to overturn the FAA’s dismantling of the Block Aircraft Registration Request (Barr) program early last month. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear arguments from the associations and FAA.
Diamond Aircraft has secured an agreement for a fresh capital infusion that allowed the restart of its D-Jet program and restored the test aircraft to flight status. The Austrian-based aircraft manufacturer had suspended the single-engine jet program in March and laid off almost all employees working on the D-Jet at its London, Ontario facility after failing to obtain a new $36 million development loan from the Canadian government.
The Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition in São Paulo last month marked the dawn of fractional jet ownership in Brazil, with two companies launching programs.
Eclipse Aerospace said the FAA has approved Eclipse 500s to return to a maximum certified ceiling of 41,000 feet, effective immediately upon the installation of the recently recertified combustion liners.
Cirrus chairman Dale Klapmeier said his company’s recent majority acquisition by China’s state-owned Avic will provide the necessary capital to restart the moribund SF50 single-engine jet program. He said the company needs time to re-ramp and re-staff the effort and that a new timetable for the jet is at least three to four months out.
Embraer joined the fuselage of the first Legacy 500 at its São José dos Campos, Brazil plant last month. The midsize jet’s fuselage is built in three sections–cockpit, center fuselage and aft fuselage–and is constructed of aluminum alloy, with “substantial” composite materials content, the company said.
If anyone doubts Honda Motor Company’s commitment to the general aviation industry, a visit to Honda Aircraft’s new 623,000-sq-ft factory at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C., underscores the significant investment the company has made.