Eclipse Aerospace (Booth No. C10844) ceremonially delivered the first Eclipse 550 yesterday at NBAA 2013, marking the first aircraft to come off its revived production line since its predecessor company filed for bankruptcy and shut down in 2007. The new twinjet builds upon the “proven and reliable” Eclipse 500, adding more range, upgraded avionics and improved cabin comfort.
Eclipse 500 upgrades announced yesterday by Albuquerque, N.M.-based Eclipse Aerospace promise to bring long-pledged safety equipment and performance capabilities to the original very light jet. The new Safety Enhancement Package (SEP) will also remove the last of the “INOP” stickers present in Eclipse 500 cockpits since the former Eclipse Aviation delivered its first customer aircraft nearly seven years ago.
Production of Cessna Aircraft’s new Citation Latitude is on schedule, and the company expects that full airframes will be on the manufacturing lines by year-end. The midsize business jet is scheduled to fly in the first quarter of next year. The Wichita-based aircraft manufacturer has already started building test articles, and has moved from engineering, analysis and modeling to cutting metal. Meanwhile, Cessna started a 19-city tour in the U.S. last week that showcases a Citation Latitude cabin mockup.
Gulfstream Aerospace has named Brian Schank head of the East Coast sales team and Darwin Stout head of the West Coast team. Schank, a 24-year Gulfstream veteran, was most recently director for business and program support, product support sales. Stout, who is in his 17th year with Gulfstream, was most recently a West Coast-based national sales manager for product support sales. He has also been a Southwest-based regional sales manager.
Pilot Francis Vieira, 61, who had previously pleaded guilty to charges related to the 2005 takeoff crash at Teterboro Airport of a Challenger 600 operated by defunct Platinum Jet, was sentenced yesterday to six months in prison and an additional six months of house arrest. According to U.S. District Court papers, Vieira entered a guilty plea on the charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to defraud the U.S.
Cessna’s first-quarter revenues of $556 million were up by $123 million from the same period a year ago, but the Textron division still managed to sustain a larger operating loss–$38 million versus $24 million last year.
Sikorsky president Jeff Pino, himself the owner of an Eclipse 500, continues to decline to reveal how much Sikorsky paid when it invested in Eclipse Aerospace last year. On the prospects for restarting production of the small twinjet, Pino said: “If we can make a case for production, that’s something we do really well. And no, despite the rumors, we didn’t invest in Eclipse so I could get parts.”
Cessna has initiated a program designed to reduce the lead time required for interior refurbishment of classic Citations. Under the RightNow Interiors program, Cessna’s Citation service centers will stock pre-selected, certified interior design materials, eliminating the typical eight- to 12-week lead time necessary to order and receive materials for interior refurbishments.
Buoyed by its Bell and Cessna properties, Textron reported second-quarter profits up 23 percent from the same period last year, chairman, president and CEO Lewis Campbell announced last month. Pointing to a backlog of 1,638 business jets at Cessna, Textron reaffirmed its outlook for the remainder of this year and forecast a solid market for the Citation line through 2011.
At press time, as many as 50 of the 183 Citation Xs delivered worldwide had yet to be inspected for “very small cracks” in the elevator hinge fittings that were originally discovered during a routine inspection on April 20 of a Citation X at the Wichita Citation Service Center. Subsequent inspections revealed several other Citation Xs with similar cracks. On April 22, Cessna ordered all Citation Xs grounded until they were inspected.
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