“I have what may be the most significant piece of paper in America today,” said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey to Eclipse Aviation President and CEO Vern Raburn at this year’s AirVenture. “It opens the way wide for the next generation in aviation.”
That piece of paper was the provisional type certificate for the Eclipse 500.
“I am pleased to officially announce that today we are awarding provisional certification to the Eclipse 500…a new way of air travel,” said Acting Secretary of Transportation Maria Cino during the ceremony on July 27. The large gathering of media representatives burst into applause, although many in the room had maintained for years that the Eclipse was doomed to failure – a point not lost on Raburn, who couldn’t resist taking a verbal shot at the many nay-sayers whose predictions the certification ceremony proved wrong. Provisional though it may be, the certificate was presented to Raburn by Cino and Blakey in person – pretty high-powered company even for Oshkosh. Not many type certificates have been handed out by the top people in the Department of Transportation.
Although the certification is restricted, initially, to daytime VFR flight at specified altitudes, the company expects full type certification by Aug. 30, allowing flight throughout the complete operating envelope and enabling deliveries to customers.
Blakey described the relationship between Eclipse and her agency as “a partnership dedicated to success. “Close teamwork between the FAA and Eclipse has been the hallmark of this certification, and that will continue as the company works toward full certification,” Blakey promised, speaking to a crowd that included 170 Eclipse employees flown from Albuquerque for the occasion. “We anticipate no further major hurdles in the process to award full type certification,” she stated. Raburn emphasized that the Eclipse 500 had “gone from first flight to certification in only 19 months” through working closely with the FAA. His point was particularly strong because, only four months after first flight, a new engine was chosen requiring “97% new parts,” Raburn said – another tribute to the close working relationship between his company and the FAA but also, he commented, to the teamwork and spirit of the company’s employees. “We wouldn’t be here today without that,” he said. “We have had people working around the clock to get to this day.” He also acknowledged the hard work of Eclipse’s suppliers, “some of whom are in this room,” calling their performance “amazing.”
The first customer delivery, to David Crow, will be made immediately upon full certification, Raburn said. Seven Eclipse 500s already are flying, he added, with 12 more in production. More than 2,500 airplanes are on the order book, representing some $3.8 billion worth of production, he told the Oshkosh audience.
Raburn pointed out that the Eclipse 500 is “the quietest jet aircraft in history,” quieter than any other jet, any turboprop and most piston airplanes. “We set out to provide our customers and the aviation communities they frequent with an aircraft that produces exceptionally low noise on takeoff, in the air and on landing,” he said. “Our dedication to set a new low noise standard through innovative design is paying off, as the Eclipse 500 far exceeds every requirement ever established for jet aircraft.”
Designed to land at small airports around the world, one of the company’s goals was to build “a very, very community friendly airplane” exceeding the newest, Stage 4 noise regulations, Raburn said. Stage 4 requirements, in effect since January 2005, require jet aircraft to produce cumulative noise levels 10 dB lower than Stage 3. The Eclipse 500’s cumulative noise level is 50.9 dB below Stage 3, Raburn said.
The ability to serve underutilized airports brought with it a need for simplified servicing, Raburn pointed out, so most Eclipse 500 maintenance “can be done with tools from Sears,” he said.
“We have looked forward to this monumental accomplishment since Eclipse was founded nearly eight years ago,” Raburn concluded. “I am incredibly grateful for the tireless efforts of the combined Eclipse-FAA team that guided us to this critical moment in our company’s history. As we celebrate today, we also know that certification is not our destination. The most important measure of our success will be our ability to continue to deliver unprecedented performance, reliability, technology, training and service innovations to our customers for years to come.”
For more information: