March 29, 2010
By Alton K. Marsh
Calling it “Total Eclipse,” meaning it has all the features originally promised by the former owners of Eclipse, the new owners have rolled out a factory refurbishment program. The Total Eclipse program marks the completion of the final design of the original EA500 aircraft.
In September 2009, Eclipse Aerospace Inc. (EAI) embarked on a mission to finish the design and promised capabilities of the breakthrough Eclipse 500. Since acquisition of the company, Eclipse Aerospace has invested in, and completed the design and certification of, the original EA500 jet, which now includes FIKI (Flight Into Known Icing) and a GPS-coupled autopilot.
“In their rush to deliver the aircraft, the former manufacturer of the EA500 [Eclipse Aviation Corporation] delivered to owners an aircraft that was only about 85 percent complete,” said Mason Holland, chairman and president of Eclipse Aerospace. “These aircraft were great performers, but still lacked several important features. We now have completed the design and engineering of the EA500.”
Eclipse has re-engaged major suppliers of the aircraft’s components and systems. EAI, now with more than 100 engineers and technicians, continues to develop new features and increased functionality that will be included in the next version of the aircraft when production eventually resumes.
Total Eclipse program customers can buy a fully configured EA500 aircraft that includes flight to 41,000 feet, 20,000-cycle airframe life and an on-board color radar, electronic moving maps, and eCharts (Jeppesen) all presented directly on the EA500 multifunction display.
The Total Eclipse, priced at $2.15 million, also includes a factory warranty. For a limited number of “early buyers” each Total Eclipse purchase also comes with a guaranteed buy-back provision. With this guarantee, EAI will agree to repurchase the aircraft for a guaranteed amount which can be applied towards a first-year production slot when EA500 manufacturing resumes.
Existing EA500 owners may also take advantage of the Total Eclipse program. For a limited time, Eclipse Aerospace plans to offer trade-in credits for used EA500 aircraft ranging from $1 million to $1.7 million, depending on the condition and features of the aircraft presented for trade in.
“The Total Eclipse program is the most comprehensive and important action we have taken to date as we expand our support for EA500 owners,” said Holland. “The people who own and fly the initial fleet of 260 EA500 aircraft are the innovators of the very light private jet aircraft market. They have recognized the great performance, unparalleled value and high utility of this fantastic jet. We are proud that with this announcement, Eclipse Aerospace is delivering on the full promise of the Eclipse 500.”
EAI began full operations to support the fleet of 260 Eclipse 500 Jet aircraft. Corporate offices are based in Charleston, S.C. Principal operations are located in Albuquerque, N.M., and Chicago, Ill.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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