Linear Air brings home first Eclipse 500

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Air-taxi operator Linear Air expects its first Eclipse 500 very light jet to arrive at the Part 135 company's home base at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts this week after formally accepting the aircraft, the first of 30 on order, at Eclipse's Albuquerque, New Mexico facility on 9 July.

The company plans to use the Eclipse for on-demand air-taxi work only, keeping its fleet of five Cessna Grand Caravans available for charters as well as for limited per-seat roundtrip flights from Hanscom, Westchester County airport, near New York, and Manassas regional airport near Washington DC. The company expects its second Eclipse 500 by mid-August, with two additional aircraft set to arrive in December.

Linear Air will charge roughly $1,800 an hour for the Eclipse for on-demand flights, double the $894 an flight hour fee for the Caravan. Costs are expected to be about the same for a similar trip, however, as the Eclipse flies about twice as fast as the Cessna, officials say.

The company expects that an airworthiness directive that limits Eclipse 500 operations to visual flight, daytime-only operations with two pilots will be lifted by mid-August, coinciding with the aircraft coming online. Eclipse has said it will complete the AD certification in July, with retrofits to the fleet completed 60 days after that.