In late December Eclipse Aviation confirmed that a supplier problem has delayed certification of its VLJ from next month to late in the second quarter. Despite the setback, at press time Eclipse said its five flying test aircraft have amassed more than 1,000 flight hours in just over 750 flights.
Every time it seems that the business aviation industry has nearly exhausted all the market possibilities, something new appears. The latest twist is per-seat scheduled service using business aircraft in executive or shuttle configuration.
London Executive Aviation (LEA) is preparing to pioneer the use of very light jets (VLJs) in the European charter market. The UK firm has been tracking the VLJ phenomenon since the late 1990s and is convinced that the promised low operating costs of the VLJs will attract a significant number of customers who hadn’t previously imagined that private aircraft charter could be affordable.
The dawn of the very light jet (VLJ) is nearly upon us, with the first, the Eclipse 500, set to receive FAA certification in June. Hot on the heels of the Eclipse VLJ is Cessna’s Citation Mustang and 10 other potential competitors.
Eclipse Aviation won the National Aeronautic Association’s 2005 Robert J. Collier Trophy for achievement in aeronautics. The 95-year-old trophy, one of aviation’s most prestigious awards, will be presented to the company “for leadership, innovation and the advancement of general aviation” in the production of very light jets, specifically, the Eclipse 500.
German executive charter firm Triple Alpha Luftfahrt has added a sixth Cessna CitationJet to its fleet. Ordinarily this wouldn’t be particularly big news, but the company’s experience in trying to get the aircraft registered provides a fascinating insight into how fragmented and inconsistent Europe’s aviation regulatory environment still is in practice–despite long-standing efforts to introduce regulatory harmonization.
A day after Teal Group lead analyst Richard Aboulafia was quoted in the International Herald Tribune as saying the nascent very light jet (VLJ) market has the potential for a spectacular flameout, Eclipse Aviation founder and CEO Vern Raburn fired back by calling the oft-quoted (some might say over-exposed) market forecaster’s comments “ignorant and stupid.”
Eclipse Aviation, of Albuquer-que, New Mexico, said it has overcome the supplier problem, revealed in December, that was blamed for delaying FAA certification by three months from late March to late June. A spokesman told AIN last month that the revised June approval estimate is “looking good.” Icing certification is planned for September.
Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer left no doubt that it plans to become a major player in the business aviation market over the next decade.
Eclipse Aviation has begun building a service center at Gainesville-Alachua County Regional Airport, Fla., for its Eclipse 500 very light twinjet. The 61,000-sq-ft-facility, scheduled to open early next year, will offer scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, including work on the aircraft’s P&WC PW610F engine. The Eclipse 500 is scheduled for certification before the end of next month.