Eclipse Aviation, developer of the first very light jet, unveiled a prototype single-engined personal jet at the AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, ending weeks of speculation and secrecy surrounding the new programme, provisionally dubbed the Eclipse Concept Jet (ECJ).

The aircraft is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F turbofan mounted externally above and behind the fuselage, with exhaust flowing over a V-tail.

The engine mounting and V-tail configuration resembles the jet mock-up unveiled by Cirrus during the show. Computer controls and improved design capability make V-tails more feasible than when they are first used, says Eclipse chief executive Vern Raburn.

The ECJ, which first flew on 2 July, is estimated to have a maximum cruise speed of 345kt (640km/h), a service ceiling of 41,000ft (12,500m) and a range of around 2,300km (1,250nm).

The ECJ has so far accumulated fewer than 30 flight hours reaching speeds of up to 250kt and an altitude of 25,000ft. Gear and flap operation have been successfully demonstrated and the aircraft has undergone initial flutter testing, pre-stall testing, engine restart, and other flight envelope expanding test points.

Raburn says: "While today we have no production plans for the ECJ, we are constantly evaluating markets for future products. We are anxious to reveal the potential of this emerging category."

The personal jet class brings "speed to runways" as short as 670m and are fuel efficient. "We have seen the last of $2 per gallon of Jet A," Raburn adds. "It's an absolute reality that we are moving into a new era, and we think fuel efficiency is important."

The ECJ shares a number of design elements with the Eclipse 500 - the wing assembly minus the tip tanks, which includes the ailerons, the fuel system, main landing gear and actuators, flaps and flap actuators, wheels and brakes.

The nose assembly is also common to both aircraft and includes the nose landing-gear assembly, landing-gear doors, forward pressure bulkhead, air conditioning and oxygen supply.

The ECJ also features Eclipse's Avio NG cockpit. Swift Engineering of San Clemente, California has been contracted to assist with the design and build the ECJ in slightly over six months.

Source: Flight International