Eclipse Aviation Corporation’s first certification flight test aircraft, the Eclipse 500, with tail number N503EA, rolled out on December 11. At that time, Eclipse announced that the aircraft, featuring two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F turbofan engines, was scheduled for its first flight by Dec. 31, 2004.
The roll-out marks the transition of the aircraft from Eclipse’s manufacturing organization to the flight test organization, which will prepare it for flight testing. The roll-out occurred in an informal ceremony for Eclipse employees at the company’s facility in Albuquerque, N.M.
“Roll-out of N503EA is an important symbol of the real progress made in the Eclipse 500 program,” said Eclipse CEO and President Vern Raburn. “Over the coming months, we’ll have five test aircraft flying as well as airframes for static and fatigue testing. The Eclipse 500 remains on track for FAA certification in March 2006.”
Rod Holter, VP of operations, said the assembly process went remarkably smoothly.
“In some ways it’s hard to believe this is a pre-production aircraft,” he said. “The precision of the aircraft parts and the tooling are remarkable. We’ve validated our advanced manufacturing processes and are confident in our ability to manufacture the production aircraft in volume.”
Eclipse flew its first aircraft, N500EA, for the first time in August 2002; that aircraft was subsequently retired in October 2003, after completing a successful flight test program. Since then, Eclipse has been manufacturing an additional seven preproduction aircraft: one static test airframe, one fatigue test airframe and five additional flight testing aircraft.
For more information, visit [http://www.eclipseaviation.com/].