On March 12, Eclipse Aerospace announced the delivery of its first all-new Eclipse 550 personal jet, and the company plans to continue rolling them out from the assembly plant in Albuquerque, N.M., at the rate of about two per month. “This is a great entry-level jet for the owner-pilot,” says Eclipse’s CEO, Mason Holland. “And it’s also an economical tool for the business owner who sits in the back. We think there are a lot of people who would like their next plane to be a jet.” The twin-engine light jet—which can seat as many as six people, though the standard configuration is for five seats—is designed to be simple and safe to fly for a single pilot, many of whom are likely to be moving up from a turboprop or a fast single-engine piston aircraft and flying a jet for the first time. The company offers both simulator and flight training for new owners and pilots.
The Eclipse 550 comes standard with new anti-skid brakes that can stop it in as little as 700 feet, and it is the first model in the personal-jet (or very-light-jet) class to offer auto-throttle, a cockpit enhancement that eases pilot workload. The cockpit avionics have been updated with new high-resolution displays and faster processing speeds. The jet can fly at altitudes up to 41,000 feet, reach speeds up to 375 knots, and burn as little as 59 gallons of fuel per hour. It has a range of 1,300 miles.
Holland and his partners bought the original company, Eclipse Aviation, out of bankruptcy in 2009. The new company, Eclipse Aerospace, provides support for the original fleet of 260 airplanes, and for the last few years it has been selling the Total Eclipse, which is the original jet with a thorough factory makeover and multiple updates. The all-new 550 is built from scratch and certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. It sells for about $2.9 million. Holland says that buyers who order the jet now can take delivery in five to six months. (www.eclipse.aero)