Nine months: Eclipse’s 1st delivery set for March 2006

Eclipse continued its now-traditional flurry of news announcements this year at Oshkosh.

Not least of them concerned a service called Jet Complete, which takes care of everything but fuel and tires for a basic $115 per flight hour fee, which covers all scheduled maintenance. For an additional $94 an hour, unscheduled maintenance can be included. That includes engines, airframe, avionics – and a guaranteed 24 hours or less return to service.

More important than might be apparent at first is a completely new fire suppression system called Phostrex. Using a new (and patented) dispersal system, the new (and patented) chemical is about one tenth the cost of Halon and the entire system, installed in the Eclipse 500, weighs only 1.6 pounds compared to nearly 20 pounds for the equivalent Halon system, said Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn. Phostrex also is non-toxic and is ecologically sound, he added.

Visitors to the large Eclipse display were able to see and climb into N505EA, the first Eclipse 500 with a complete interior in one of the three styles offered with production airplanes. A second flight test airplane was at Oshkosh, but without the production interior, and two more remained at the company’s Albuquerque headquarters, continuing the flight test program. All of them were built on production tooling.

Currently, the first Eclipse 500 customer is scheduled to take ownership of the first airplane in less than nine months – “March 31, 2006,” Raburn predicted. That customer will get the airplane for $995,000, as will another 159 first buyers. The price has gone up to $1.295 million for current orders, Raburn said, largely due to a recent increase in the price of aluminum.

“Eclipse is on the verge of becoming a real company,” Raburn stated, explaining that a “real” company is one at the point where customers hand over money and the company delivers products. “Until then, you’re playing at being a company.”

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