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.”
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.
Eclipse Aerospace has revealed more details of its $2.695 million Eclipse 550 twinjet to AIN. CEO Mason Holland said that, while the 550 will continue to use the same airframe and engines as the EA500, there will be several cockpit, cabin and system changes.
Albuquerque, N.M.-based Eclipse Aerospace responded Friday to a U.S. Air Force request for information (RFI) concerning possible replacement of the service’s 178 Beechjet 400-based T-1 Jayhawks with very light jets. This is the second time the USAF has put out feelers for VLJs, having issued a broader RFI for these small jets in November 2006.
Eclipse Aerospace’s new 550 very light jet will feature an enhanced vision system (EVS) sensor made by Lexavia. The Lexavia LFS6000 infrared sensor has a 640- by 480-sensor element and 4X zoom. EVS imagery will be displayed on the Eclipse 550’s MFD, which is part of the jet’s Innovative Solutions & Support Avio/IFMS flight deck. The EVS sensor is mounted in a low-profile housing that projects 1.42 inches above the fuselage nose surface.
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.
Eclipse Aerospace took an important and large step toward resuming new production of its light twinjet yesterday. The company placed a production order Innovative Solutions & Support (Booth No. 4331) for the initial 50 of 300 shipsets ordered of the Eclipse 550 Avio integrated flight management system (IFMS), which includes dual FMS, autothrottles, synthetic vision, integrated Taws and enhanced vision system (EVS). The IS&S suite also features electronic circuit breakers, radios, transponders and radar.
It’s been a bit more than three years since Eclipse Aerospace was awarded the assets of bankrupt Eclipse Aviation in August 2009, not quite enough time, perhaps, to fully separate conversations about the former from the mixed record of its predecessor, but Mason Holland, CEO of Eclipse Aerospace, told AIN the company is weary of “Phoenix rising from the ashes” stories and declared it has made considerable progress updating a