Eclipse Aviation said at the show that it will not come near to delivering the 402 aircraft it had originally predicted it could produce by the end of this year. Vice- president marketing and sales Michael McConnell will only say the number delivered will be “hundreds – it’s too difficult to predict”.

By 22 May, according to McConnell, 11 Eclipse 500s had been delivered to customers, 15 aircraft have a certificate of airworthiness, the Eclipse 500 had won more than 2,500 orders with $3 billion secured deposits and its production certificate had been awarded. Meanwhile, said McConnell, “the US Federal Aviation Administration has approved our type rating programme and our first customers have passed it. DayJet has six pilots type-rated, and we have amassed over 5,000 fleet hours. The European Aviation Safety Agency certification is expected in the fourth quarter of this year.” Eclipse Aviation, he says, will be going for the -500’s certification for commercial operations in the first quarter of 2008.

There have been a number of problems that have led to the first year delivery shortfall, but Eclipse says they are all being solved and early customers will have their aircraft retrofitted to a single standard at no cost to themselves.

For example the company found some condensation freezing in the pitot lines in a test aircraft. The company has designed a fix that will change the pitot probe, introduced a more powerful heating element, and put a condensation drain and trap into the lines. This fix will be incorporated into production aircraft by June, according to McConnell, and it will be retrofitted to the in-service fleet immediately after that. The objective, says McConnell, is “retrofitting every aeroplane to a common configuration at our cost.”

Some of the changes are what McConnell says Eclipse calls aeromods. These, he explained, “are points where we cleaned up aerodynamic issues to enable our performance figures – which we do hit.” These included a remodelled, higher capacity wingtip fuel tank, and main landing gear fairings that compensate for having an open wheel-well. The regulatory clearance for flight into known icing was deliberately not completed in the winter of 2007, McConnell explained, because it would have been necessary for it to have been repeated after the aerodynamic modifications were applied. This has yet to be done with both the FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency.


Source: Flight Daily News