The European Aviation Safety Agency has certified the Eclipse 500 very light jet in Europe, opening the company to sales in the 37 European Union countries and providing a much needed marketing boost for the embattled US airframer.
The approval comes more than two years after the US Federal Aviation Administration first granted a type certificate for the model, a delay that was linked to problems with intermittent and uncommanded changing of transponder codes and autopilot settings in the aircraft’s Avio NG integrated avionics suite.
Fixes were included in Avio NG version 1.5, an upgraded software package that includes dual Garmin 400W moving map navigation units and which gained FAA certification on 7 November, according to a letter to customers obtained by Flight International.
The Euro certification will require Eclipse 500 aircraft to be equipped with Avio NG 1.5 plus optional equipment specific to European operations, including a third attitude indicator and dual Mode S diversity transponders. Eclipse continues to pursue EU-OPS 1 approval, which will allow for commercial operation of the twinjet there. The company says it expects to receive EU-OPS 1 “in time to allow many air taxi services using the Eclipse 500 to be operational in Europe in 2009.”
The positive news could help Eclipse in its effort to secure long term operating cash to see the company through a restructuring and production ramp up. The company on 13 November alerted employees that it would not make payroll, but later was able to pay the workers and continue operating.
“Obtaining EASA certification is one of Eclipse Aviation’s greatest accomplishments,” says Roel Pieper, CEO of Eclipse Aviation. “With the additional FAA approval for Avio NG 1.5, EASA certification enhances Eclipse’s capacity to spread the global reach and impact of the Eclipse 500, and we expect many new orders from all over Europe, Russia and Turkey to follow.”