Eclipse Aerospace of Albuquerque, N.M., delivered its sixth Eclipse 550 light twinjet this week at the Sun ’n’ Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Fla. Purchased by an undisclosed customer in Chicago, the aircraft is on display throughout the show, which closes on Sunday evening. The Eclipse 550 was certified on February 28 and the first copy was delivered on March 12. “We think we can produce, sell and deliver 16 to 20 [550s] this year, and we’d like to do more than that in the future,” said Eclipse CEO Mason Holland.
In what the organizers claim is a first, an aircraft–in this case a chartered Dassault Falcon 900B carrying 12 photographers and amateur astronomers on November 3–was used to intercept an extremely short total solar eclipse with a “perpendicular crossing” of the eclipse path. While aircraft have previously been used to capture solar eclipses, they flew with the eclipse path and waited for the shadow to catch up with the airplane.
Charleston, S.C.-based Eclipse Aerospace announced yesterday that it has received a production certificate from the FAA, green-lighting production of the Eclipse 550 very light twinjet. The approval was granted after the agency determined that the company’s manufacturing processes and quality systems meet all federal regulations.
“Armed now with a fully certified aircraft, a certified production process and an established supply chain, Eclipse is well positioned to re-introduce the Eclipse Jet to new production,” said Cary Winter, the company’s senior vice president.
Eclipse Aerospace has completed fatigue testing of the Eclipse 500 and is in the process of assembling the data to submit to the FAA, company executive vice president Mike Press told AIN. Once it submits this data, Albuquerque, N.M.-based Eclipse will seek to increase the Eclipse 500’s lifecycle limit from 10,000 to 20,000 cycles.
The FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive today for the Eclipse 500 that, as of March 21, would limit its maximum operating altitude to 30,000 feet.
The trustee in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings for Eclipse Aviation late last week asked the bankruptcy court to approve the sale of the former very light jet manufacturer’s assets essentially “free and clear of liens, claims, encumbrances and other interests pursuant to the Agreement [with Eclipse Aerospace].” If all goes smoothly and no other bidders emerge, in a few weeks Eclipse Aerospace will close on a $40 million deal to buy the as
Yesterday a judge verbally approved the motion to convert Eclipse Aviation’s bankruptcy from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7, which means the company’s assets will likely be auctioned to the highest bidder. Phil Friedman, CEO of Wichita-based Harlow Aerostructures, has formed New Eclipse Acquisition to bid on the assets and, if successful, work with suppliers to provide maintenance support and avionics and other upgrades.
A group of Eclipse 500 owners and position holders for the Eclipse 400 and 500 this week formed an ad hoc customer committee to represent their interests during the Eclipse Aviation Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. David Green, also the president of the Eclipse 500 Owners Club, was selected to be the group’s chairman.
Eclipse Aviation, developer of the Eclipse 500 ultra-light twin jet, secured $38 million in financing last month, closing a third round of equity financing worth a total of $100 million ($62 million was secured last September). In all, the Albuquerque, N.M.-company has obtained $220 million in guaranteed funding from undisclosed private investors.
The FAA in January awarded Eclipse 500 type rating training approval to Mesa Falcon Field, Ariz.-based Sabena Airline Training Center. Managing director Kris Van den Bergh said the center is the first center worldwide to offer Eclipse 500 type rating courses. The training center received its first Eclipse 500 in August. The course takes 10 to 15 days to complete, and the first class will be offered this month.
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