Eclipse Aerospace announces first Eclipse 550 light jet delivery

Eclipse Aerospace, based in Albuquerque, N.M., has delivered its first Eclipse 550 twin-engine light jet to a customer following government certification, the company announced Wednesday.

Eclipse Aerospace was formed to buy the assets of bankrupt Eclipse Aviation in 2009.

“This is an exciting day for Eclipse Aerospace and for general aviation,” Mason Holland, Eclipse Aerospace CEO, said in a statement. “With the Eclipse 550, we’ve built a high performance light jet that includes advanced technologies and safety features that have traditionally been found only on much larger cabin class business jets and commercial aircraft. Our customers asked for the latest technologies such as auto throttles and a more dynamic pilot interface, and we responded.”

Eclipse Aerospace announced the start of production of the six-seat Eclipse 550 jet in June 2012.

The company recertified its complete supplier base and improved many of the subsystems in the original Eclipse 500 design.

Eclipse Aviation was founded in 1998 by fomrer Microsoft executive Vern Raburn. Bill Gates was a major stockholder.

Production of the Eclipse 500 was halted in 2008 because of lack of funding, and the company filed for bankruptcy in November 2008. It originally entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy but was forced into Chapter 7 liquidation after the sale to its largest shareholder failed.

Eclipse Aerospace, headed by Mike Press and Holland, was the only bidder for the company during the bankruptcy. They put up $20 million in cash and $20 million in promissory notes.

The Eclipse 550 can fly to altitudes up to 41,000 feet for up to 1,125 nautical miles and has a maximum speed of 430 mph.