Chasing the Polish requirement for up to 70 new multirole helicopters to replace aging Mil Mi-8/17s, Eurocopter announced that it will create an assembly line for the EC725 Caracel in that country. Turbomeca simultaneously announced that it will produce the helicopter’s Makila 2 turboshaft engines in Poland.
Sales professionals from more than 30 countries who attended the first International Eclipse Dealer and Sales Conference on May 31 may have noticed a not-so-subtle change to the buildings that house Eclipse Aerospace at the Albuquerque, N.M. International Sunport. Before the meeting, Eclipse CEO Mason Holland arranged for bucket loads of blue paint to be delivered to the company’s facilities, and painters quickly erased the bright orange that had been the hallmark of the old Eclipse Aviation and dabbed on the blue that is the color of Eclipse Aerospace.
Eclipse Aerospace launched production of the Model 550 twin-engine very light jet on Friday in conjunction with its first international Eclipse dealer and sales conference, which was attended by dealers from more than 30 countries. During the meeting at Eclipse’s Albuquerque, N.M. headquarters, technicians mated the forward keel to the fuselage of 550 Serial Number 1001, which will be delivered to a customer next year.
Despite a halt in production of nearly four years and the bankruptcy of its original developer, the fleet of Eclipse very light jets could soon grow again after Eclipse Aerospace was awarded a production certificate from the FAA.
Eclipse Aerospace is outsourcing manufacturing of airframe structural components for the new Eclipse 550 very light jet to PZL Mielec, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. UTC is the parent company of Sikorsky, which is a minority owner of Eclipse.
Eclipse Aerospace announced at last month’s NBAA Convention that it is resuming new-build production of its iconic very light twinjet, newly dubbed the Eclipse 550. At the show, Eclipse began taking orders for the new jet, which sells for $2.695 million (2011 $). The company expects to produce 50 to 100 Eclipse 550s per year once production resumes in 2013.
After rising from the ashes of bankruptcy in 2009 and following substantial minority investment by Sikorsky late last year, Eclipse Aerospace announced at NBAA 2011 today that it will restart production of the Eclipse very light jet in 2013.
Sikorsky Aircraft president Jeff Pino shed more light on the company’s investment in Albuquerque, N.M.-based Eclipse Aerospace, including the possibility of restarting production of the EA-500 very light jet, during a meeting this week at the Paris Air Show. “We’re good at working with supply chains, driving them down in cost, positioning things in the market [and providing] good aftermarket support,” Pino told AIN.
PZL-Mielec has flown the second Sikorsky S-70i “international” helicopter. It is the first to fly in Poland, where two more units are in final assembly. The Polish company previously shipped major subassemblies for the first S-70i to the U.S., where initial flight tests were completed at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach, Fla. facility last month.
At EAA AirVenture last month, Pilatus Business Aircraft president Thomas Bosshard would not elaborate on speculation about any plans to develop a new business aircraft other than to say "we are looking at several things." He discounted any anticipated announcement at the NBAA Convention next month as "premature." He also said the recent move to purchase PC-12 fuselages and wings from Poland's PZL Swidnik is to add a "secondary supplier" for t