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Eclipse VLJ to lack full avionics fit for at least six months

By Graham Warwick in Washington DC

Manufacturer meanwhile plans to boost aircraft's speed and increase fuel capacity

Eclipse Aviation has detailed the steps still required to achieve full avionics functionality on the Eclipse 500 very light jet. The company received provisional approval on 26 July and is aiming for initial type certification by 30 August, but much of the promised avionics functionality will not become available for another six to 12 months, largely because of software delays at vendor Avidyne.

The company is also planning design changes to increase performance, including larger tip tanks holding 74 litres (19.5USgal) per side, up from the current 26.5 litres. These and engine nacelle and tail bullet design refinements will boost range from 1,950km (1,055nm) to 2,100km and cruise speed from 360kt (665km/h) to 370kt, Eclipse says.

Avionics functionality including flight management system, moving map, weather radar and GPS integrity monitoring, for which Avidyne is developing the software, is scheduled to become available in October, Eclipse says. Autothrottle software, being developed by Meggitt and Eclipse, is to become available in March next year.

Software for electronic checklists and charts, traffic collision avoidance and ground proximity warning, performance management and XM Satellite weather datalink - also being developed by Avidyne - is not scheduled to be available for another six to 12 months, Eclipse says.

Despite the lack of functionality, initial certification will allow day/night single-pilot visual and instrument flight rules operations in reduced vertical separation minima airspace, Eclipse says. The Albuquerque, New Mexico-based company has flown the first two customer aircraft - including the first for US air-taxi operator DayJet, and plans to deliver 50 aircraft by year-end.

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