March 20, 2013
By Jim Moore
The first production Eclipse 550 powered up its engines at the factory in Albuquerque, N.M. Photo courtesy Eclipse Aerospace.
Eclipse Aerospace fired up the twin Pratt & Whitney PW601F turbofans on the first production model of the Eclipse 550, and celebrated another step toward the first delivery expected in the third quarter this year.
The 550 is an update of the Eclipse 500, with the same engines and airframe and new features and upgrades including a dual redundant flight management system with synthetic vision, optional auto-throttles, anti-skid brakes, custom interiors, and satellite phones. More than 260 Eclipse 500s are operating worldwide.
The 550, like the 500, will be able to cruise at 375 knots at 41,000 feet burning 59 gallons of fuel per hour. The 550 will have the same 1,300-nm IFR range (with an additional 45-minutes fuel reserve) as the 500.
Eclipse restarted the production line in June 2012, and CEO Mason Holland expressed optimism that the jet’s arrival will find a recovering market receptive.
“The global markets are improving, sales activity and orders continue to grow, and the Eclipse Jet is priced extremely competitively as the only jet available in the world for less than” $3 million, Holland said in a news release. “This attractive acquisition price coupled with our industry leading operating costs of only $1.69 per nautical mile makes the Eclipse Jet a great value for our owner flown customers as well as Corporations and Governments alike.”
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
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