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.
Very light jets
Spanish Fort, Utah-based Spectrum Aeronautical also selected the new GE/Honda HF120 turbofan to power a proposed $6.2 million midsize business jet called the S-40 Freedom. The 2,050-pound-thrust engine is slated for certification in 2009. The S-40’s certification and first deliveries are “targeted for” 2010. Spectrum said it chose the Honda engine because it believes that the engine is more efficient than the Williams International FJ44.
Honda Aircraft revealed the price, projected performance figures and other details of the HondaJet very light twinjet. The company plans to certify the jet for single-pilot operations under Part 23 and start deliveries in 2010, and it submitted a type certificate application to the FAA on October 11.
Piper’s prolonged pondering of a jet reached fruition at the NBAA Convention with an announcement today that it will design and build a very light jet with a “high-speed natural laminar flow wing” and powered by a single 2,400-pound-thrust turbofan. Piper plans to fly the PiperJet in spring 2008 and start deliveries in the first half of 2010.
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.
Cirrus Design will officially launch its single-engine CirrusJet this month at the NBAA Convention in Orlando. In a promotional mailing sent out this week, Cirrus said the very light jet will be able to cruise at more than 300 ktas, fly more than 1,000 nm and have a service ceiling of 25,000 feet.
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.
The market for very light jets (VLJs) will be worth $2.52 billion over the next five years, according to a new study by UK-based consultants PMI Media. The report predicts six VLJ designs making it into service: the Adam A700, Cessna Citation Mustang, Diamond D-Jet, Eclipse 500, Embraer Phenom 100 and HondaJet.
The good news is that the single-engine Diamond D-Jet is getting a parachute recovery system from St. Paul, Minn.-based Ballistic Recovery Systems. But the bad news is that Diamond has raised the aircraft’s price from less than $1 million to $1.36 million, nudging the $1.5 million tag for the Eclipse 500 very light twinjet. The increase is due to the manufacturer including previously optional items as standard equipment.
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.