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Thu, Feb 16, 2006

Eclipse Aviation Wins Collier Trophy

Joins Wright, Hughes, Yeager... Not Bad!

When Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn calls the ANN hotline, it's usually to announce something big... and the call E-I-C Jim Campbell received from Raburn this afternoon was no exception.

In an exclusive phone call Thursday, Raburn told Aero-News that his company has won the 2005 Robert J. Collier Trophy, considered the most prestigious award in aviation. Eclipse Aviation Corporation was awarded the trophy  "for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America." 

The 95 year-old trophy will be presented to the company "for leadership, innovation, and the advancement of general aviation" in the production of very light jets -- specifically, the Eclipse 500.

The award is administered by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA). With the award, Eclipse joins such distinguished company as past winners Orville Wright, Howard Hughes, Chuck Yeager, Scott Crossfield, the crew of Apollo 11, and SpaceShipOne.

Announcing the 2005 winner, NAA President and CEO David Ivey said the selection committee's criteria included recognition of the rich heritage of the Collier Trophy, and "the spirit of entrepreneurship, technical innovation, and the impact on American aviation," exemplified by the Eclipse 500.

Led by Eclipse's founder, president and CEO Vern Raburn, Eclipse is applying innovations created in the technology industry to drive down cost, increase performance, improve safety, and spur a new type of air travel-the air taxi.

Innovations to the Eclipse 500 including friction stir welding, the PhostrEx fire suppression system, electromechanical actuators and digital electronics with integrated software.

Perhaps the company's greatest contribution is making jet technology available to a larger segment of the population.  With an acquisition cost one-third of today's small jets and the lowest operating cost per mile of any jet, the Eclipse 500 provides the lowest jet costs ever achieved.  As a result, almost 2400 Eclipse 500's are on order.

In an endorsement to the Eclipse nomination, Microsoft founder and Eclipse investor Bill Gates said: "True to the spirit of excellence and advancement that the Robert J. Collier award stands for, I believe the Eclipse 500 represents the best of aviation's rich past -- and its bright future."

The award presentation will be Monday, May 15, at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.

ANN is planning to bring you more on this story, including Vern Raburn's reaction to the news, on Friday's Aero-News Daily Aero-Cast.

FMI: www.naa-usa.aero, www.eclipseaviation.com

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