Eclipse Aerospace this week marked the beginning of initial production of its Eclipse 550 twin-engine jet, with deliveries expected to begin next year.
Eclipse, based in Albuquerque, N.M., said it plans initial low-volume production with the first aircraft taking about 12 months to complete as the balance of the production line is re-tooled and validated during the process. Full production for an estimated 50 to 100 aircraft per year is expected in 2014, paced by market demand. In April, the company was awarded FAA production certification for the aircraft, which allowed Eclipse to manufacture the very light jet and its parts in conformance with FAA-approved type design, and is only granted when FAA determines the organization's manufacturing processes and quality systems comply with all federal regulations.
“New production of the Eclipse Jet, that was the ultimate goal of EAI when we started this process two and a half short years ago. The excellent team at Eclipse Aerospace along with our strong supply chain partners have brought us back into the production market. I am simply humbled by everyone’s efforts,” said Mason Holland, CEO and chairman of Eclipse Aerospace.
In addition to the new production announcement, Eclipse also announced the official roll out of the Eclipse International Dealer organization. Eclipse Dealers from around the world representing over 30 countries attended and signed agreements for the purchase of new Eclipse 550 Jets slated for delivery in 2014 and early 2015.
The Eclipse 550, with a base price of $2.7 million, will have the same airframe and Pratt & Whitney engines of the original Eclipse 500, and will include enhanced avionics systems from Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S), of Exton, Pa. Eclipse Aviation, founded in 1998, developed, manufactured and delivered about 250 Eclipse 500s before a lack of funding shutdown the company in 2008. Eclipse Aviation has filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009. The company was purchased by a group of investors, rebranded as Eclipse Aerospace. Earlier this year, the company secured a minority stakeholder in Sikorsky Aircraft.