Former Raytheon Aircraft v-p of operations Paul Schumacher has joined Eclipse Aviation in Albuquerque, N.M., as v-p of manufacturing. He will lead the primary assembly team for the Eclipse 500 very light twinjet, which Eclipse said at press time would receive full type certification “shortly.” Meanwhile, its powerplant, the P&WC PW610F, received FAA certification on August 23.
Eclipse Aviation selected Opinicus of Clearwater, Fla., to be the exclusive supplier of flight-training devices and simulators for the Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ). The first Eclipse 500 simulator is scheduled to be delivered to Eclipse training partner United Airlines Flight Training Center in Denver early next year, coinciding with the expected FAA certification of the VLJ.
Eclipse Aviation’s fourth conforming Eclipse 500–and the first of its two beta-test jets–joined the flight-test fleet last month. As the company’s certification program advances, the two beta-test aircraft will be tested under accelerated usage conditions to ensure reliability and functionality before first customer deliveries next spring.
If giant airshows such as Paris, Farnborough, Asian Aerospace and Dubai–even NBAA– represent business aviation’s economic engine, then EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., (July 25 to July 31) measures the pulse of flying’s human side.
Halon fire-extinguishing agents have been used for many years to protect valuable electronics, oil and gas production facilities, military systems, aircraft and other critical operations. The Army Corps of Engineers developed Halon (short for halogenated hydrocarbons) in 1948 as a less toxic but highly effective alternative to methyl bromide.
With a firm order for 10 Eclipse 500s and an option for 10 more, London, Ontario-based OurPlane became the first fractional customer for the very light jet, scheduled to enter service early next year. Prices for a one-quarter share of the Eclipse 500 start at $349,900, with a monthly fixed cost of $3,500 and hourly operating costs of $369, without a pilot.
Like the overall U.S. economy, the business aviation industry is still exceptionally strong, as reflected by the healthy number of new business aircraft in the works. There are now 31 business jets in development, in flight-test or certified within the last 12 months.
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’s author, Philip Butterworth-Hayes, expects six VLJs will make it into service: the Adam Aircraft A700, Cessna Citation Mustang (the first of the breed to receive FAA certification), Diamond D-Jet, Eclipse 500, Embraer Phenom 100 and HondaJet.
At press time, FAA type certification continued to elude Eclipse Aviation for its very light jet, while Cessna confirmed speculation that it would be first to certify a VLJ when its Citation Mustang received Part 23 type certification for everything but known icing on September 8 (see page 1).
While business aircraft are one of the most important tools of investment bankers and venture capitalists, investing in new aircraft designs doesn’t appear to be on their radar this year. According to a report issued last month by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), investors plan to increase their funding pools by about 10 percent over last year.