Eclipse Aviation has named another six suppliers to its Avio systems team, replacing BAE Systems on the Eclipse 500 as it prepares for the start of assembly of the first batch of conforming aircraft in May.

The six suppliers join Avio partners Avidyne and General Dynamics and replace components previously contracted to BAE Systems, which was forced out of the Eclipse effort in late 2003.

"We have a pretty demanding programme and BAE Systems was unable to meet its commitments," says Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Eclipse, which developed the Avio concept to handle high levels of integration in the power, control and monitoring systems.

The new companies include Hispano-Suiza Canada, which will supply the full authority digital engine control (FADEC) for the aircraft's Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) PW610F turbofans, and Meggitt Avionics, which will supply the digital autopilot. Others include Autronics, a Curtiss-Wright company that will make the aircraft computer system, and Crossbow Technology, which will provide the attitude and heading reference system.

FreeFlight Systems will supply the global positioning system receiver from the product range acquired with its 2001 acquisition of the Business and Commuter Aircraft navigation systems business of Trimble Navigation. Harco Laboratories, which is already supplying the Eclipse 500's pitot and static system, will also now provide the aircraft's air data computer.

Eclipse expects to start "loading" the first assembly tools in March in readiness for the start of production in May. The first conforming aircraft is scheduled to fly towards the end of 2004 to begin what is likely to be a 3,500h test programme. This will include three certification aircraft, two static/fatigue airframes and two additional "beta" aircraft that will each accumulate up to 1,000h of operations before the first customer delivery.

Source: Flight International