On Dec. 31, Eclipse Aviation received the FAA certificate of airworthiness for its first customer aircraft, enabling its delivery for customer use, just hours ahead of CEO Vern Raburn’s long-expressed deadline.
A few days later, on Jan. 4, Eclipse passed one of its most important milestones when it delivered its first customer aircraft to co-owners David Crowe, a private owner, and Jet-Alliance, a shared jet ownership company based at Westlake Village, Calif. Crowe plans to use his time with the jet primarily for recreation, while Jet-Alliance will use it to serve its co-ownership clients.
“For many years, the promise of this day has fueled the passion and perseverance of everyone associated with Eclipse,” Raburn said at the ceremony. “Today, as we deliver the first Eclipse 500, our dream of opening up the world of private jet travel to a new realm of customers has become a reality.”
“Although the vision of an affordable jet may have seemed like a risky investment to some back in 2000, I never doubted this day would come,” Crowe added. “With my Eclipse 500, I’ll not only have convenient access to my favorite places and hobbies, I’ll have a lot more time to enjoy them.”
To maximize his investment and the airplane’s usage, Crowe formed a partnership with Jet Alliance.
“We are thrilled to be a part of this major event in aviation history by accepting co-ownership with David Crowe of the very first Eclipse 500,” said Randall Sanada, president and CEO of Jet-Alliance. “Our clients have been awaiting this day just as eagerly as we have.”
The ceremony took place at Eclipse Aviation headquarters at the Albuquerque International Sunport, the major airport for Albuquerque, N.M.
With an order backlog of more than 2,500 aircraft, the company already has 37 more airplanes on its production line, seven of which have been completed and are being prepared for delivery, according to Raburn.
With new production facilities in Albuquerque and at nearby Double Eagle II Airport, and with a growing production team, Eclipse is poised to “begin ramping up production rates,” Raburn said, “leveraging advanced manufacturing methods not traditionally used in aviation to dramatically increase manufacturing efficiency.”
Eclipse has adapted proven automotive manufacturing techniques such as moving assembly lines and robotics – similarly to Boeing – to eventually reach the production of approximately 1,000 planes a year, or four per day, Raburn said.
For more information:EclipseAviation.com.