Eclipse 550 production approved as company demonstrates Sikorsky backing

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Eclipse Aerospace has received US production certification for the Eclipse 550 very light jet, paving the way for the company to launch full-scale production.

EAI in 2009 acquired the assets of a defunct start-up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that designed and built the original Eclipse 500.

The developer says all EAI shareholders - including Sikorsky, which acquired a 42% stake in the company last year - are united in their commitment to restart production of the VLJ.

It dismisses suggestions by Sikorsky parent company United Technologies Corporation late last month that the stakeholder has no plans to continue making investments in the fledgling company.

"Sikorsky remains a significant investor in EAI," says EAI chief executive Mason Holland. "It has always been the goal of EAI to re-start production with its own team, albeit drawing on the experience and expertise of Sikorsky [whose president Jeffrey Pino is an EA500 owner]," he continues.

"With the assistance of [its] key personnel, EAI continues advancing the Eclipse 550 to full-scale production."

In the meantime, Holland says EAI continues to "support fielded aircraft, sell Total Eclipse aircraft, and build the Eclipse 550 new production order book with initial deliveries planned in 2013".

The Eclipse 550 is based on its EA500 predecessor, with systems upgrades including auto-throttles, synthetic vision, enhanced vision, and a redundant flight management system. The seven-seat aircraft is priced at $2.7 million.