Also Unveils New Standard Radar, Touts NextGen Compliance Of
After months of some less-than-pleasant news for Eclipse
Aviation -- including an FAA Airworthiness Directive limiting the
aircraft to two-person operation in VFR conditions -- it appears
there may a light on the horizon for the Albuquerque, NM-based
At a news conference Wednesday at AirVenture 2007, company CEO
Vern Raburn and COO Peg Billson announced issues with the Pitot
Static system are now resolved through a new Service Bulletin,
which specifies an alternate method of compliance for AD
2007-13-11, the Airworthiness Directive limiting Eclipse 500s to
VFR conditions, with a VFR flight plan and two pilots on board.
"This only takes about a shift's worth of work," Billson (above)
said, "and it returns the aircraft to the full type certificate
limits. I flew aircraft 41 with the mod here at 41,000 feet."
Eclipse engineers have also rectified issues with window
cracking, by doubling the number of installation holes on the
windshield and side windows. The modification will be incorporated
into the production line starting with aircraft 74, and Billson
says it should improve the current required replacement
interval of 1,000 flight cycles to 1,500 cycles for the windscreen,
and from 250 to 600 cycles for replacement of the side glass.
Billson also noted FAA certification for a series of
modifications for the Eclipse 500 -- including larger tip tanks, a
new tail bullet fairing, and other enhancements to improve speed
and range -- is "imminent." Eclipse plans to install the
modifications on early aircraft within a 12-month timeframe, at the
One of the earliest Eclipse 500s, N505EA, is on display at
AirVenture with the new mods in place.
Avio NG, And NextGen
The big question on many people's minds concerned the status of
the Avio NG avionics system. Billson reports two aircraft have the
new system installed -- one just flew for the first time this week,
and is due to arrive at AirVenture Thursday -- and pilots report no
major problems with the system in under three hours of flight
testing. Eclipse hopes for certification for Avio NG by the end of
Eclipse also unveiled details about the Avio NG system's planned
compatibility with the FAA's Next Generation Air Transportation
System (NexGen) integrated plan. Raburn said the Avio NG system is
infinitely scaleable and extensible to fit the aircraft's needs
into the future.
"The Eclipse 500 is essentially future-proof," Raburn said.
"Avio NG is software-driven. The hardware is already there; this
translates to infinite capability."
Raburn says the hardware installed in the plane can handle
foreseeable upgrades in software, which is easily loaded through a
USB port under the pilot's armrest. He said upgrades to the
avionics suite would be more economical as a result.
Avio NG's capabilities encompass the foreseeable changes in Air
Traffic Control technology, Raburn said. The NextGen plan
integrates use of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast,
(ADS-B) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) with other
technologies to enable greater air traffic capacity and less
These capabilities will allow pilots to see other aircraft on
their own screens, rather than relying on a controller's radar
screen. Raburn compared the role of the controllers to early
long-distance Telephone operators, plugging wires into a circuit to
connect two callers.
"We'll move separation from the controller to the cockpit,"
Raburn said. "Here's our dirty little secret. Radar is plus or
minus two miles in accuracy. Those of us flying at high altitudes
know the sky is not crowded. With this technology, we can increase
the IFR capacity from 6,000-8,000 aircraft to four times that
number. We're going to make a lot of Eclipse 500s, but not enough
to fill that expansion."
Avio NG also incorporates Localizer Performance with vertical
(LPV), a new instrument approach technology Raburn said will allow
operators to fly Category I approaches to the threshold of
virtually any runway in America.
New Standard Radar
(right) kicked off the discussion Wednesday by announcing
Japan Radio Company, a marine radar and radio producer, will
manufacture the new standard radar system for the Eclipse 500. JRC
-- in business since 1915, and a mainstay producer of avionics
electronics in Japan -- will produce the Eclipse-developed system
as their first airborne radar.
The Honeywell unit standard in the Eclipse thus far will be
available an extra-cost option, Raburn said.
"We're very, very, very satisfied with [the JRC's] performance
so far," Raburn said. "We've been flying an old Cessna 210 with
pods under the wings -- actually Eclipse nose sections -- with the
Honeywell radar on one side and the Eclipse radar on the other
side. We're really happy with the response were getting with this
"This color weather radar system will provide pilots with
exceptional weather system will provide pilots with exceptional
weather situational awareness," Raburn said. "JRC is a leading
manufacturer of aviation and communication equipment, and we are
pleased to partner with them to continue Eclipse's guiding
principle of innovation and ensuring the Eclipse 500 value
Bidding To Start Soon On S/N 38, Price Increase
Rather than put money on a delivery slot, and wait.. and wait..
and wait.. Raburn says prospective owners can plunk down a
refundable $5,000 deposit, and get in line to bid on an Eclipse
Using a private label online marketplace powered by eBay,
Eclipse will offer Eclipse 500 S/N 38 starting 11:00 am EDT July
30. Bidding closes at 8:00 pm August 10 -- and the winner's
aircraft will be ready for pickup immediately as the auction
But don't expect a low bidder walking out the door with a $500
very light jet. The Auction's reserve price is $1,600,945, or 95
percent of the aircraft's regular price.
Raburn notes S/N 38, on display at AirVenture (above), is a
fully-loaded aircraft... and the auction reserve is inline with the
new base price for an Eclipse 500, which will go up $75,000 on
September 1. Raburn says the increase is needed due to "increased
material costs and vendor costs."
The base price for a new-order 500 is now $1.595 million in June