One Aviation Mulls 550 Retirement as 'Canada' Progresses

 - March 14, 2017, 9:04 AM
When the Eclipse Project Canada enters service next year or in 2019 it will replace the 550. In the meantime, the company is considering a phaseout of Eclipse 550 production.

One Aviation is weighing a possible phaseout of the Eclipse Model 550 as early as this year, as it works to bring the Eclipse Canada to market.

The Canada, unveiled last year, will replace the 550. But even though it may not be available until late 2018 or early 2019, One Aviation is considering ending production of the 550 after the next five aircraft, all planned for delivery this year, said chairman Alan Klapmeier.

Market forces and supply issues are playing a part in that decision, Klapmeier told AIN. When One Aviation resumed production of Eclipse aircraft, the company was able to tap into a backlog of already developed components for the aircraft’s Pratt & Whitney Canada’s (PWC) PW610 engines. But the program has now run through those components, necessitating a decision about whether to restart a production line for a short time at a relatively low rate.

Noting the expense of such a move, Klapmeier said the company may opt to instead continue SE upgrades and support of the 550, as it works toward certification of the Canada model.

But he is not completely ruling out continued production of the 550, as the company works out the timing on an order it received from Chinese buyers for 20 of the model. In November 2015 the company announced the order, at the time valued at roughly $60 million, as part of a recent dealership agreement with Jinggong General Aviation in China.

Deliveries were planned to extend over several years, as One Aviation and Jinggong work to obtain Chinese certification and build sales, training and support networks in China. Klapmeier said he remains optimistic about the strong potential of the Chinese market, but noted that establishing a presence there and obtaining certification takes time. Depending on that timing, the order could end up as a mix of 550s and Canadas, or all Canadas.

The Canada will feature longer wings (by two feet on each side), 7 percent more cabinand 31 percent more baggage volume than the 550, and an anticipated range of roughly 1,400 nm.

The aircraft is expected to be powered by larger P&WC PW615 turbofans, but a contract still must be finalized. One Aviation further is offering the new jet with the Garmin 3000 avionics suite. The company may also offer customers the option for an IS&S panel. IS&S supplies avionics for the current 550.

Company executives are hosting a series of informational meetings with customers and prospects to discuss plans for the models. One Aviation held one such event last week at Pierce Aviation in Hammond, Louisiana, and is holding the next one this week in Scottsdale, Arizona. Klapmeier said the enhanced model has been well received by customers and potential customers.

Those meetings, Klapmeier said, are also intended to examine support options, as the company moves to increase its service network and capabilities offerings. Pierce Aviation, which already supports a fleet of Eclipse jets, is expanding its authorizations for supporting the aircraft. One Aviation also is eying other locations to enhance its support operations, he added.