Eclipse Aerospace announced late last week that it received FAA approval to double the life limit on existing Eclipse 500s and new-build Eclipse 550s to 20,000 hours/20,000 cycles. Cary Winter, senior vice president of engineering for the Albuquerque, N.M.-based company, said the extension “validated the strength and superiority of” the friction stir welding process used to assemble the aircraft’s fuselage and wings.
The Eclipse 500 received type certificate validation from the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) this week, and the first very light jet from the Albuquerque, N.M. aircraft manufacturer has been exported to South Africa by National Airways. This marks the 46th country in which the Eclipse is certified. Orlando, Fla.-based SimCom has also been approved as the Eclipse simulator training provider by the SACAA.
Eclipse Aerospace has arrived with an aircraft on static display for the first time at EBACE. The manufacturer is represented by its official European distributor, UK-based Aeris Aviation (based at Branscombe Airfield in Devon), which is offering demo flights in the Eclipse 500 very light jet during the show.
Eclipse Aerospace powered up the first production Eclipse 550 very light jet at its Albuquerque, N.M. facility, the company announced yesterday. An Eclipse spokesperson told AIN the process entailed “a normal power on of both [Pratt & Whitney PW610F turbofans] and all aircraft systems.”
While the business aviation industry greets each morsel of positive economic news with cautious optimism, continuing financial indecision made 2012 another depressed year for turbine aircraft deliveries, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), which released its year-end delivery totals last month. Last year general aviation reached a milestone of sorts, according to GAMA chairman Brad Mottier. For the first time, he noted, shipments to North American buyers in all three airplane segments–jets, turboprops and pistons–dipped to 50 percent.
Since when is an Emergency AD used to ground an aircraft fleet, as it has been in the case of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner? First off, let me be clear that if anything good can be said of the Boeing Dreamliner nightmare it’s that no one had to die before the FAA would take definitive action to ground the 787 until its battery fire problems could be investigated properly.
The U.S. Air Force is gathering information to help it decide if a very light jet (VLJ)–typically a jet with a maximum takeoff weight below 10,000 pounds–could replace its fleet of Raytheon T-1A Jayhawk trainers. The service conducted similar market research in 2006.
For the first time in more than four years, new aircraft have emerged from the former Eclipse Aviation final-assembly facility in Albuquerque, N.M. Two unfinished airframes left on the assembly line when that company declared bankruptcy in November 2008 were recently completed by the resurrected company, Eclipse Aerospace, and outfitted as factory-new Total Eclipse twinjets.
This formation of 27 Eclipse light jets was part of a larger group that descended on Branson Airport in Missouri for the Eclipse Owners Club Fall Fly-In last month. Forty-three of the twinjets met up in what was one of the largest gatherings of the same model private jet ever to land on a field at one time. Eclipse Aviation built 261 of the EA500s before it went bankrupt in 2008. Eclipse Aerospace, which acquired the company’s assets, announced it has restarted production with deliveries of the updated Eclipse 550 expected next year.
PPG Aerospace won a contract to supply cockpit windows for the new Eclipse 550, as well as improved-design windshield spares and side-cockpit window spares to Eclipse Aerospace for the existing Eclipse 500 fleet. The lighter-weight glass-faced acrylic windshields for both aircraft will be heated, meet requirements to resist strike by a two-pound bird at 200 knots and have an anti-static coating. The side-cockpit windows will be acrylic. PPG will start cockpit window deliveries to Eclipse in the middle of next year to coincide with deliveries of the first Eclipse 550s.