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Eclipse Aerospace moves ahead with production of very light jet

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, April 2, 2013, at 8:24 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, April 2, 2013, at 4:44 p.m.

Eclipse Aerospace, based in Albuquerque, N.M., continues to move forward with the Eclipse 550 twin-engine very light jet.

The company last week received Federal Aviation Administration approval for an amended production certificate that authorizes the final assembly, test and certification of the plane.

The amended certificate allows Eclipse to manufacture, flight test and grant airworthiness certificates for the Eclipse 550 under the FAA’s approved quality system, the company said.

“Manufacturers are typically required to build their first group of aircraft under the supervision of the FAA,” Mason Holland, Eclipse Aerospace CEO, said in a statement. “The fact that every new Eclipse 550 will be delivered under a full FAA production certificate speaks volumes about our team and our systems.”

Eclipse has jets moving down the production line as the company works toward customer delivery in the third quarter of this year.

The company was founded in 1998 by former Microsoft executive Vern Raburn.

Although investments in the effort reached $1 billion, production of the Eclipse 500 was halted in 2008 because of lack of funding.

The next year, Eclipse filed for bankruptcy, and one bidder, headed by Holland and Mike Press, bought the assets of the company.

About 260 of the very light jets were produced.

Eclipse Aerospace officially restarted the aircraft production line in June.

The Eclipse 550 is based on the Eclipse 500 airframe but is enhanced with additional technologies, such as a dual and redundant flight management system and independent standby displays powered by advanced microprocessors, the company said.

The company celebrated another milestone recently: the first power-up of the plane’s Pratt & Whitney PW610F engines.

“The global markets are improving, sales activity and orders continue to grow, and the Eclipse jet is priced extremely competitively as the only jet available in the world for less than $3 million,” Holland said in a statement.

The plane’s operating costs total $1.69 per nautical mile, the company said.

It has a maximum cruise speed of 375 knots and maximum range of 1,300 nautical miles, according to the company.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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