The FAA has approved the extension of the service life of the Eclipse 500 and 550 aircraft to 20,000 hours/20,000 cycles with unlimited calendar life.
This provides the typical Eclipse Jet owner with over 50 years of safe operation and improved airframe residual value, according to company officials.
“To reach this goal, Eclipse invested hundreds of hours and several million dollars into this project. An actual Eclipse Jet was subject to the movements, loads, and fatigue that would normally be experienced over more than 60,000 flight operations. This testing also validated the strength and superiority of our patented Friction Stir Welding process,” said Cary Winter, SVP of Engineering, Manufacturing, and Technical Operations.
Friction Stir Welding (FSW) is the cornerstone of Eclipse’s success in improving airframe strength, company officials note. The FSW process replaces the requirement to manually drill holes and install over 7,000 rivets in the airframe. Because rivet holes create opportunities for stress cracks to form, the elimination of rivet holes and the strength provided by the FSW welded joint provides an airframe that is three times stronger than a traditional riveted airframe, company officials said. This added structural strength in the Eclipse Jet airframe results in a longer life and safer aircraft, officials add.
An aircraft’s service life is based on a combination of pressurization cycles, the aerodynamic loads experienced in flight, and landing loads. Each time an aircraft is flown, its fuselage and wings are subject to various stresses. Aircraft manufacturers anticipate these loads and design the aircraft to safely operate well beyond its established service life.
While every Eclipse 550 will be delivered with a 20,000 hour/20,000 cycle airframe, this life extension will also apply to the previously manufactured Eclipse 500 aircraft.
“When we started Eclipse Aerospace, we made a commitment to support our customers. This airframe life extension is yet another fulfillment of that commitment,” said Mason Holland, CEO of Eclipse Aerospace. “We have great customers who have been very loyal and supportive of EAI and we want to thank them for sharing this journey back to production by offering them the opportunity to have their Eclipse aircraft participate in this life extension program at no additional cost.”
For more information: ECLIPSE.aero