'Breakthrough' agreement linking instruction and cover set to ease very light jet debut

Eclipse Aviation has secured deals covering training and insurance, two of the most significant hurdles required for the successful introduction of its Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ) in 2006.

The training agreement has been reached with United Airlines' United Flight Training Center (UFTC) in Denver, Colorado, while the insurance cover will be provided by American International Group underwriters AIG Aviation. In addition, insurance broker Willis Global Aviation is providing preliminary premium projections for the Eclipse 500 owner/pilot market.

"AIG will underwrite insurance for any Eclipse 500 customer who successfully completes the training and mentor programme," says Eclipse president and chief executive Vern Raburn.

He adds that the link between the new training and insurance schemes is a "breakthrough, and a validation of all we've been through over the years. Jets just aren't that hard to fly."

The training programme with United and Boeing's Alteon, which will provide pilot instructors, is "something that's never been done before", says Raburn. "VLJ training must concentrate on the pilot, not the aircraft. All the training will be scenario-based and the pilot will be involved in planning the training."

To qualify for Eclipse 500 training, prerequisites include a private pilot licence with instrument and twin-engine ratings. Before the full-up training starts, pilots will be required to take an initial flight skills assessment.

"It's more to show us where you need help, it's not a pass-fail," says Raburn, who cautions prospective Eclipse pilots that they must "dedicate yourselves, including 20-30h of work on your computer at home before you show up at Albuquerque".

He adds: "We just want to know can you operate the aircraft safely. If we feel you are not ready, there will be supplemental flight training. The key is to be able to bring you up to the standards we feel are necessary to ensure your success. "

Additional training in unusual attitude upset recovery will be provided in Eclipse's Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatross so "we can make sure you can survive", Raburn says.

The upset training is not covered by the aircraft purchase package and costs $995.

The week-long Eclipse 500 type rating transition course includes use of full-motion simulators at UTFC, and will be extended to include a programme that involves flying with a "mentor" pilot for additional hours if needed. Additional pilot type ratings will cost $8,449 including upset recovery training on the L-39. Recurrent training will cost $2,995.

Eclipse is also reassuring that "plans are in place" to secure the training package should United fall into bankruptcy.



Source: Flight International