Eclipse 500 Very Light Jet, United States of America


The Eclipse 500 very light jet is manufactured by Eclipse Aviation at its production facility in Albuquerque in New Mexico. The Eclipse 500 is marketed for pilot / owners, aircraft charter and air taxi services, as an economical and luxurious six-seat twin turbofan jet.

The twin turbofan jet engines provide maximum altitude of 12,497m (41,000ft) which avoids most severe weather systems.

The aircraft provides a cruise speed of 685km/h (370kt) and a 2,408km (1,496 miles) range with four occupants.

Tests and certification

The first test Eclipse 500 aircraft made its maiden flight in August 2002, with Williams EJ22 engines. In November 2002, Eclipse Aviation decided to replace the engines and aircraft are now fitted with Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F engines. First flight with the new engines was in December 2004.

The aircraft's certification process involved five preproduction flight test aircraft, one static test and one fatigue test airframe. US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provisional certification was received in July 2006. Full type certification was received in December 2006 and the first aircraft was delivered on 31 December 2006 to co-owners David Crowe and Jet-Alliance.

FAA production certification was received in April 2007. European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification was received in November 2008.

DayJet was the first air-taxi operator to receive the aircraft, three were delivered in April 2007. Dayjet had received 12 aircraft by September 2007 and in October 2007 launched operations using Eclipse 500 aircraft.

Eclipse Aviation has received orders for over 2,600 aircraft, including 239 (plus 70 options) for DayJet, 25 (plus 25 options) for JetSet Air of UK, 15 (plus 15 options) for Linear Air of USA and 120 (plus 60 options) for ETIRC Aviation Europe. By July 2008, over 200 aircraft had been delivered and accumulated more than 20,000 flight hours.

The aircraft can operate from paved, grass or dirt runways. The take-off run is 700m. The 124km/h (67kt) stall speed provides easy safe landing.

In June 2008, Eclipse Aviation launched the single-engine four-place Eclipse 400. The Eclipse 400 is powered by one Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F engine and cruises at 41,000ft. It has a projected maximum cruise speed of 330kt and range of 1,250nm with IFR reserves. Deliveries of the Eclipse 400 are scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Eclipse Aviation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2008 and the future of the programme is uncertain. Dayjet, largest customer for the Eclipse 500, filed for liquidation in November 2008.

Eclipse 500 design

The aircraft is of conventional aluminium construction with traditional components (spars, stringers, ribs frames and clips). All critical joints, such as the skin splices, bulkhead and spar to fuselage attachments are mechanically fastened.

Eclipse awarded Fuji Heavy Industries the contract to manufacture the complete wing assemblies using an Eclipse licensed friction stir welding process. ENAER of Chile is responsible for the complete nose assembly and Ducommun Inc of California supplies the fuselage and cockpit skin panels.

The aircraft is fitted with wing and horizontal tail pneumatic de-icing boots. The windshield and the air data probes are fitted with electrically powered de-icing systems.

The UK-based Hampson Industries is supplying the empennage, vertical and horizontal stabilisers, rudder and elevators. Saint Gobain is supplying the radome and Steico Industries all systems tube assemblies.

Cockpit

The Eclipse 500 is fitted with an all-glass cockpit with two primary flight displays and one multifunction display, which provide system control and clearly show the flight parameters, engine and system performance data.

"The Eclipse 500 can operate from paved, grass or dirt runways."

The multifunction display unit provides control for the fuel, electrical, engines, environmental control, de-icing, lighting and pressurisation systems.

It is equipped with embedded backup instrumentation and both the primary flight displays and multifunction display have reversionary modes to allow the transfer of information to the other displays.

Avidyne Corp. supplied the displays and software for early production aircraft but, in March 2007, Eclipse Aviation announced that Avidyne would be replaced by a new team of avionics suppliers - including Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S), Chelton Flight Systems, Garmin International, Honeywell and PS Engineering. The Avio avionics suite is being replaced with the Avio NG suite which received certification in December 2007. Avio NG is being retrofitted to all previously delivered aircraft by the end of 2008.

Avio NG has two 768×1,024 resolution primary flight displays and one 1,440×900 resolution multi-function display supplied by IS&S. The new displays have higher resolution and mean time between failure (MTBF) rates.

Avio NG has an integrated Chelton Flight Systems RTCA/DO-229C capable flight management system (FMS), which allows the creation of custom waypoints, addition or deletion of waypoints from an active route and specification of parallel track operation. The system has GPS-based lateral aircraft control and vertical navigation (VNAV) capability.

Following certification in February 2008, all aircraft are being fitted with a new colour weather radar designed by Eclipse and Japan Radio Co (JRC).

The Honeywell communications / navigation suite includes Primus Apex KTR 2280 multi-mode digital radios (MMDR), with digital VHF navigation receivers (VHF omni-directional ranger, localiser and glideslope), and an optional automatic direction finder. Each radio has one transmitter and six receivers, capable of 8.33/25kHz channel spacing operation and simultaneous monitoring of two VHF communication frequencies. VHF communications systems are displayed and controlled in the primary flight displays. Honeywell is also supplying the optional KGP 560 terrain awareness system (TAWS).

The navigation system has Garmin GTX 33 and GTX 33D dual-mode S transponders. The dual FreeFlight systems wide-area-augmentation system capable global positioning systems are certified for in-flight rules en route and in approach. EDO Corporation is supplying the aircraft's communications and navigation antennas.

The Meggitt Avionics flight guidance and control systems comprise a three-axis autopilot, dual Crossbow Technology AHRS500 attitude heading and reference system (AHRS) and automatic throttle. The Curtiss-Wright Controls, Novatronics throttle quadrant assembly includes dual engine throttle levers and auto-throttle motor assemblies for flap handle, speed brake and rudder trim functions.

The air data system, supplied by Harco Laboratories, Bradford, Connecticut, comprises dual air data computers with reduced vertical separation minimums (RVSM) capability, dual heated static port, dual outside air temperature and pitot heated probes and dual environmental control system static ports.

The PS Engineering PMA500 remote audio control system provides digital audio control. The PMA500 interfaces with Avio NG for audio selection, mode control, intercom and marker beacon indication.

"The Eclipse 500 is powered by two PW610F medium bypass turbofan engines."

Cabin

The sound-proofed cabin is fitted with four leather club style seats, LED lighting, wood trim and tables and power outlets. The aircraft is fitted with a Dukes Inc digital interface cabin pressure control system and Seamech air conditioning modules containing vapour cooling and heat exchangers.

Engines

The aircraft is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F medium bypass turbofan engines, rated at 4.00kN take-off thrust. The engine is fitted with Hispano-Suiza SA full authority digital engine control (FADEC) including engine start, in flight automatic restart, over-temperature and over-speed protection. The engine inlets are fitted with engine bleed air ice protection.

Unique to the Eclipse 500 is the PhostrEx engine fire suppression system, which is not based on Halon and has no ozone depletion potential. PhostrEx has been certified by the FAA and meets the standards of the Montreal Protocol, a treaty for the protection of the ozone layer.

The wing tanks hold 871l (699kg) of fuel. Argo-Tech Corporation supplies the integrated fuel system.

General Dynamics Airborne Electronic Systems, based in Redmund, Washington, is supplying the aircraft's power distribution system.

Landing gear

The Macaer Group supplies the trailing link landing gear. The single wheeled nose gear retracts forward and the main units retract inward. The landing gear is fitted with Parker Hannifin lightweight wheel and multi-disc brake system and Michelin radial main gear tyres.