Dutch charter start-up Winged-Dutchman Aero Service has taken delivery of the first European-registered Eclipse 550, following handover of the very light jet (VLJ) – registration OE-FMO – on 14 April.

The aircraft, owned by Austrian charter company MaliAir, will be the first of the 1,300nm (2,400km)-range twin-engined type to be operated commercially in Europe when revenue flights begin on 20 April.

“The EA550 is an ideal aircraft for point-to-point transportation around Europe,” says Winged-Dutchman founder Sjoerd-Jan van Klaarbergen.

The four-passenger aircraft will be based at Groningen airport in the northeast Netherlands, where van Klaarbergen says the growing industrial base is poorly served by local airlines. “To fly to the major cities around Europe, travellers have to fly via [Amsterdam] Schiphol, which extends the journey time considerably,” he says. “The EA550 can connect to most airports around the continent for around the price of a business class ticket.”

Van Klaarbergen will add a second aircraft this year, if demand for the service is strong enough. “I have already sold 200h on the EA550,” he says. “The next aircraft will be owned by me and should enable the service to expand across Europe.”

The continent is home to two other EA550s but they are based on the US N-register and operated privately.

The VLJ, which secured European validation in November, is an updated version of the 10-year-old EA500, featuring a dual Avio integrated flight management system, synthetic vision, enhanced vision, auto-throttles and anti-skid brakes.

Flightglobal’s Fleets Analyzer database records a fleet of around 20 EA500s in Europe.

Source: Flight International