Company prepares to build first production version with PW610F engine for certification

Eclipse Aviation has "retired" its first test aircraft after accumulating 54 flight hours on 55 sorties powered by interim Teledyne Continental turbojets. Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Eclipse is preparing for the start of assembly of the first conforming production versions of its personal jet with the chosen Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F turbofan.

Eclipse says tests using the original Eclipse 500 prototype confirmed the basic aircraft "requires no significant redesigns and remains on track for certification in 2006". The first conforming test aircraft is due to fly in late 2004, pending the successful test and development of the PW610F - a scaled-down version of the PW615 under test for Cessna's Citation Mustang. Seven aircraft will be involved in certification.

Although outwardly virtually identical to the later aircraft, the late engine change from the original Williams FJ22 to the heavier PW610F limited the first prototype to testing basic aerodynamics and handling. "The outer mould line hasn't changed, but practically everything else has been touched," says Eclipse president Vern Raburn. "We are starting the early fabrication of some of the aircraft parts, and we will be loading tools in March to build the first aircraft. We are firming up the redesigns and changes that are required to move from the Williams to the P&WC engine." These are mainly associated with the structural changes to accommodate the extra 410kg (900lb) airframe, engine and fuel weight and includes thicker wing spars and ribs.

Source: Flight International