Eclipse 500

Eclipse 500

infobox Aircraft
name = Eclipse 500

caption =
type = Very light jet
national origin = United States
manufacturer = Eclipse Aviation
designer =
first flight = August 26, 2002
introduction = December 31, 2006
retired =
status = In production
primary user = DayJet
more users =
produced = 2001-
number built = 245
developed from = Williams V-Jet II
variants with their own articles =
The Eclipse Aviation 500 is a small six-seat business jet aircraft manufactured by Eclipse Aviation.

The Eclipse 500 is the second of a new class of Very Light Jets (VLJ), following the delivery of the first VLJ, the Cessna Citation Mustang in late 2006. [cite web|url=|title=Cessna Beats Out Eclipse In First VLJ delivery|publisher=AVWeb|date=2006-11-23|accessdate=2006-11-29] The aircraft is powered by two lightweight Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F turbofan engines in aft fuselage-mounted nacelles.

Design and development

The production 500 is the product of a conceptual design evolution which began with the Williams V-Jet II, which was designed and built by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites in 1997 for Williams International to be used as a testbed and demonstrator for their new FJX-2 turbofan engine. The aircraft and engine debuted at the 1997 Oshkosh Airshow.

The V-Jet II was an all-composite structure with a forward-swept wing, a V-tail, each fin of which was mounted on the nacelle of one of the two engines. Williams had not intended to produce the aircraft, but it attracted a lot of attention, and Eclipse Aviation was founded in 1998 to further develop and produce the aircraft.

The prototype and only V-Jet II aircraft was obtained by Eclipse Aviation along with the program, and was donated to the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 2001.

Adaptation of V-Jet II design

Founder and former Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn was one of the first business executives at Microsoft. Subsequently, Bill Gates became a major stake-holder in the Eclipse project. The VLJ concept has been pursued by a number of manufacturers, and because the V-Jet II had been designed around one of the primary VLJ engines, Eclipse believed it was an ideal design to refine and market. The airframe was significantly redesigned as an all-metal structure with a T-tail and straight wings. The main cabin shape is essentially all that was retained from the V-Jet II. It was recognized that for an aluminum structure to be cost effective, new manufacturing techniques would have to be developed. One of the primary processes used was friction stir welding, in which the skin and underlying aluminum structure are welded together rather than riveted, as traditional for aluminum aircraft. Anti-corrosion bonding techniques were also developed. [ [ "An Inside Look at Eclipse"] Eclipse Aviation press release (last accessed November 29, 2006)]

Besides materials processes, the general process of building the airframe was redesigned, with techniques taken from the automotive industry. Traditionally, aircraft structure is mounted in a jig, and the skin is riveted on to the outside of it. For the Eclipse 500, lessons were taken from composite airframe manufacturing, and the aluminum skin is first laid in a mold, and then the structure is built into it. The result is much more precise control of the aircraft's final shape, resulting in a cabin that is more robust and can be pressurized to a higher differential. In addition, the manufacturing techniques are designed so that one crew can assemble an airframe in a single shift. The complete interior is designed to be installed on a moving assembly line in 45 minutes.

Originally Eclipse selected a pair of Williams International EJ-2 engines (a production variant of the FJ22/FJX-2) for the Eclipse 500, but as the aircraft's weight increased, performance was not satisfactory. Pratt & Whitney Canada agreed to participate in the project, and modified the design of their PW615 engine, designating it the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F. The prototype Eclipse 500 first flew with the Williams engines in 2002. [cite web|url=|title=Eclipse 500 Jet Achieves First Flight|date=2002-08-26|accessdate=2007-04-29] The redesign to incorporate the new engines resulted in a significant delay to the development program. The first flight of the Eclipse 500 with the new engines occurred on December 31, 2004. [cite web|url=|title=Eclipse Aviation Completes Two Successful Flights of First Eclipse 500 Certification Flight Test Aircraft

An Eclipse press release says that its aircraft is "the quietest jet aircraft" and that it is "quieter than virtually all multi engine turboprop and piston aircraft". [ [ Eclipse Press release] (last accessed April 10, 2007)]

Instrument Panel

The Eclipse 500 cockpit has glass cockpit technology and an integrated avionics package. Problems with the original configuration have involved a re-design of the system. The first aircraft have the original system called "Avio" until the new "Avio NG" system is certified. The new avionics package was certified in December 2007 and older aircraft will be retrofited and all should be to the same standard by the end of 2008. [cite web
url =
title = Eclipse certificates new avionics, secures new financing
date = 2007-12-21
accessdate = 2007-12-22



The Eclipse 500 received provisional type certification from the FAA on 27 July 2006, shortly after the aircraft's PW610F engine was certified by the Canadian authorities. FAA Administrator Marion Blakey presented Raburn with the provisional certificate in a special ceremony at the 2006 Oshkosh Airshow.

Full certification was not granted at that time because the composite wing tip fuel tanks did not meet FAA lightning strike criteria. As a result, Eclipse started testing an improved wingtip fuel tank made from aluminium. Eclipse also started ramping up production of the 500, so aircraft could be released to customers once full certification was achieved.

Full type certification was eventually achieved on 30 September 2006. At that point, in addition to the five flying prototypes, 23 aircraft were in production and two had already been completed. The 500 type certificate allows the aircraft to be flown under IFR with a single pilot. cite web|url =|title = TYPE CERTIFICATE DATA SHEET NO. A00002AC.|accessdate = 2008-07-16|last = Federal Aviation Administration|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = January]

Eclipse received its FAA production certificate on 26 April 2007. Serial numbers 1-11 were produced prior to the production certificate being granted. These aircraft were subject to individual FAA inspection. 500 serial number 12 and subsequent were built under production certificate No. 500. [cite web|url=|title=Eclipse Aviation Receives Production Certificate|date=2007-04-26|accessdate=2007-04-29]

The aircraft received its certification for flight into "known icing conditions" on 25 June 2008, although this is yet to be added to the current type certificate data sheet, which is Revision 2, 15 January 2008. cite web|url =|title = Eclipse 500 Receives Flight Into Known Icing Certification|accessdate = 2008-06-26|last = Eclipse Aviation Corporation|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = June]

Investigation of certification issues

In June 2008 the United States Congress tasked the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Transportation with the investigation of claims by Federal Aviation Administration employees who have indicated that the certification process of the Eclipse 500 was flawed. Members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which represents FAA Aircraft Certification Engineers, have filed a grievance alleging that the type certificate was improperly issued by FAA managers over a weekend and that the aircraft had outstanding safety issues at that time. The FAA has stated that the FAA stands behind its certification of the jet. Then Eclipse CEO, Vern Raburn, stated the 500 is in "complete and total conformity" and that he considers it an internal FAA issue between workers and managers. cite web|url =|title = Feds look into Eclipse jet safety complaint|accessdate = 2008-07-03|last = Levin|first = Alan|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = July] cite web|url =|title = Federal Officials To Investigate Eclipse Jet Safety |accessdate = 2008-07-03|last = Grady|first = Mary|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = July]

The concerns expressed by the union representing the certification engineers include: cite web|url =|title = Eclipse 500 Jet Safety Issues Investigated Exposed|accessdate = 2008-07-17|last = Di Piazza|first = Karen|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = July]

*that the FAA issued the 500 type certificate "without allowing FAA aircraft certification engineers and flight test pilots to properly complete their assigned certification and safety responsibilities"
*FADEC issues that indicated a loss of control of engine thrust could occur
*Designated Engineering Representatives, who reported to FAA program managers, were being pressured by Eclipse
*Instead of taking action against the aircraft manufacturer for pressuring the DERs, the FAA management ignored complaints
*At the time of the issue of the type certificate, the cockpit displays were not in compliance with the FARs, suffered repeated failures and displayed incorrect data

FAA special review

On Wednesday 20 August 2008 the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it had commenced a 30-day special review of its certification of Eclipse 500 on 11 August 2008. The review is headed by Jerry Mack, a former Boeing safety executive. The remainder of the review team is composed of personnel who were not involved in the original certification effort. The certification review team is mandated to examine aircraft safety, certification of aircraft trim, flaps, display screen blanking and stall speed issues. cite web|url =|title = FAA Reviewing Certification Of Eclipse Jet |accessdate = 2008-08-21|last = Grady|first = Mary|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = August]

Eclipse Aviation CEO Roel Pieper issued the following statement in response to the FAA review: cite web|url =|title = The Eclipse 500: The Most Tested General Aviation Aircraft |accessdate = 2008-08-21|last = Eclipse Aviation|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = August]

"Without a doubt, this special review will uncover what we already know - that the Eclipse 500 marks the safest new airplane introduction into service in 20 years, customer safety has always been a priority at Eclipse, and we look forward to this investigation dispelling any inaccuracies about the certification of this airplane for once and for all." cite web|url =|title = Eclipse Aviation Confident in Outcome of FAA Special Certification Review |accessdate = 2008-08-21|last = McCarraher|first = Alana|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = August]

The results of the certification review, released on 12 September 2008, indicated that the certification process was valid, but that the FAA and Eclipse Aviation "should conduct a root cause analysis" of the owner-reported problems with the aircraft's trim, trim actuator and fire-extinguisher systems. Further report recommendations address internal FAA processes that were not optimally handled. cite web|url =|title = Eclipse Certification Upheld |accessdate = 2008-09-15|last = Niles|first = Russ|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = September]

Acting FAA Administrator Robert Sturgell responded to the review report saying:

"This review tells us that while we made the right call in certifying this aircraft, the process we used could and should have been better coordinated. These recommendations will be invaluable as we continue certifying these new types of aircraft."

US House of Representatives Aviation Subcommittee investigation

A parallel investigation to the FAA panel is being carried out by the US House of Representatives Aviation Subcommittee. cite web|url =|title = House Panel Investigates Eclipse Certification |accessdate = 2008-09-17|last = Grady|first = Mary|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = September] cite web|url =|title = Summary of Subject Matter |accessdate = 2008-09-18|last = United States House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = September]

The House Aviation Subcommittee heard testimony from the inspector general for the Transportation Department, Calvin Scovel, on 17 September 2008. He testified that FAA employees were instructed by FAA management and that a target date was set for the Eclipse 500's certification, regardless of the test flying results. "It was a calendar-driven process... with a predetermined outcome," Scovelis said.

Scovelis testified that FAA Administrator Robert Sturgell recently stated that the FAA is reviewing the production certificate that was awarded to Eclipse.

US Representative Robin Hayes, (Republican, North Carolina) asked Scovel if the Eclipse jet is a safe airplane to fly. Scovel stated, "My office has no evidence that it is unsafe." Scovel added later in the proceedings that given the information that the FAA had on September 30, 2006, when the type certificate was awarded, "a reasonable decision would have been to defer the granting of the type certificate."

The house aviation committee also heard on 17 September 2008 from a panel of current and former FAA employees. They stated that there was consistent pressure from FAA management to meet the stated timeline for the Eclipse 500 certification to be completed. They were told not to look more than "an inch deep" during the certification process. In the same hearings FAA managers defended their certification practices and denied many of the employees' allegations.


The Eclipse 500 is not currently certified in Europe. Eclipse Aviation indicated to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation on 17 September 2008 that European certification of the Eclipse 500 was underway and would be completed within 60 days. cite web|url =|title = Eclipse Aviation Fact Sheet in Response to Testimony Provided by Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation United States House of Representatives |accessdate = 2008-09-18|last = Eclipse Aviation|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = September]

Despite the fact that certification standards between the USA and Europe are harmonized and virtually identical, the European certification authority, European Aviation Safety Agency, has some concerns that must be addressed prior to European certification. cite web|url =|title = Eclipse European Certification Question |accessdate = 2008-05-22|last = Niles|first = Russ|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = May] These include:

*Certification for flight into known icing
*The incomplete status of the Avio NG integrated flight management system
*Issues with the autopilot and autothrottles
*The slow rate of emergency descent from its 41,000ft ceiling following sudden decompression cite web|url =|title = EBACE 2008: EASA could force major changes to Eclipse VLJ |accessdate = 2008-05-22|last = Reed Business Information|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = May]

The aircraft may also require ACAS, something the company has indicated is not practical, due to a lack of antennae location.

European analysts writing in Flight Global have indicated that it may be necessary for Eclipse to build a separate version of the aircraft to meet European certification requirements, something the company has indicated it is not planning to do.


The Eclipse 500 is not currently certified in Canada. cite web|url =|title = NICO - Certificate Search Page|accessdate = 2008-09-19|last = Transport Canada|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = September]


In early December 2006 and in March 2007, Eclipse announced, in letters to customers a number of changes to the initial specifications, including:

# New fairings for the landing gear, wheel covers, and tail
# Control surface hinge covers
# Extended rudder and elevator, to eliminate gurney flaps
# Improved lower engine nacelle panel aerodynamics
# Extended wingtip fuel tanks (+12 US gal. on each side)
# Changes to engine FADEC software, to increase cruise thrust above 25000ft altitude
# Overall weight increase of 79 lbs with no change to full fuel payload or max useful load.

Together, these measures are expected to increase the cruise speed from 360 to 370kts TAS and increase NBAA IFR range from 1055 to 1125nm. All aircraft, including the already delivered initial deliveries, will be upgraded to this new standard. [Vern Raburn, " [ Letter to Eclipse Customers] ", March 26, 2007, Reprinted by AVWeb]

Production and marketing

From the beginning, the aircraft was intended to bring a new economy to small jet aircraft, and both cost of acquisition and ongoing operational costs were considered in the design of the plane. Eclipse is attempting to market the aircraft to a segment of general aviation that has not had a jet participating in the market, so it is directly competing with high-end piston and turboprop aircraft. Thus, Eclipse's marketing efforts are focusing on the plane's very low service costs and comprehensive maintenance and support program for customers. Being able to land at over 10,000 airports in the United States, Eclipse and other VLJ manufacturers hope that this would proliferate an air taxi role for their aircraft.

In June 2008, Eclipse claimed to have a backlog of over 2,600 total orders for its Eclipse 500. [ [ Eclipse Aviation ] ] In May 2008, Eclipse announced that the price of the Eclipse 500 would transition to $2,150,000 due to a lower than projected production volume which resulted in expected efficiencies not being realized and higher production costs. cite web|url =|title = Eclipse Goes Ahead With Single, Hikes Price Of Twin|accessdate = 2008-06-02|last = Niles|first = Russ|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = May] [ [ Eclipse Aviation ] ]

Eclipse offers the Jet Complete program, guaranteeing private owners a maintenance cost of $209 per flight hour for three years (if the aircraft is operated between 300 and 3,000 hours during that period). A similar Jet Complete Business program covers charter operators.


DayJet was Eclipse's largest customer, as at one time it had 1400 aircraft on order for use in the air taxi role. cite web|url =|title = DayJet Announces Layoffs |accessdate = 2008-05-06|last = Niles|first = Russ|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = May] Aviation analysts were doubtful whether the company's aggressive sales and production targets were feasible. [Bill Cox [ VLJs Turn Short Final] Pilot Journal, Sept/Oct 2005 issue. (last accessed Nov. 29, 2006)]

On 6 May 2008 DayJet announced that it had scaled back its operations, laying off 100-160 employees in all segments of the company and selling or leasing out 16 of its fleet of 28 Eclipse 500s. DayJet founder and CEO Ed Iacobucci indicated that the company needed USD$40M to reach profitability, but that the current economic climate did not permit the company to raise that amount. Iacobucci has stated that the company had proven that the operational concept is sound, but that the current fleet of 28 Eclipse 500s needed to be quickly expanded to 50 aircraft to attain profitability. cite web|url =|title = DayJet Cuts Jets And Staff |accessdate = 2008-05-08|last = Niles|first = Russ|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = May]

DayJet suspended all passenger operations on September 19, 2008. They cited inability to raise operating funds in the current market as one factor and also stated:cite web
title=DayJet suspends operations

With 1400 500s on order out of a claimed order book of about 2500 aircraft DayJet represented 58% of all Eclipses that had been ordered.


Although Raburn told customers in late November 2006 that he anticipated delivering 10 aircraft before the end of the year, his company was only able to get a single copy of its jet delivered on December 31, 2006.cite news | last=Raburn | first=Vern | title=Eclipse Aviation Customer/Investor Update 11-27-06 | publisher=AVweb | date=2006-11-27 | accessdate=2006-11-29 | url= ] The official delivery ceremony occurred on January 4, 2007, when the keys were handed over to its co-owners, David Crowe, an owner-pilot and the shared-jet cooperative group, Jet Alliance. [cite news | title=Company second in U.S to deliver light jets| publisher=Associated Press| date=2007-01-05 | accessdate=2007-01-16 | url= ]

On April 19, 2007, it was reported that Eclipse had delivered a total of six Eclipse 500 aircraft, including three to DayJet. [cite web | url = | title = Eclipse 500 makes European debut at Aero 2007 | publisher =]

Eclipse has announced previously that it intends to build 4 aircraft per day in 2008. Eclipse revised those plans in a June 2007 letter to Eclipse depositors stating that Eclipse would be building 1 aircraft per day in August 2007, 2 aircraft per day in April 2008 and 3 aircraft per day in December 2008. As of September 24, 2007 according to the FAA registry database, Eclipse had delivered a total of 44 aircraft (12 of those aircraft were delivered to DayJet) with 6 delivered in August and 11 delivered in September.

June 2008 Grounding

On June 12, 2008, the Federal Aviation Administration issued Emergency Airworthiness Directive AD 2008-13-51 grounding all Eclipse 500s, following an incident at Chicago's Midway Airport. cite web|url =|title = DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 AD 2008-13-51 |accessdate = 2008-06-16|last = Federal Aviation Administration|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = June] According to a National Transportation Safety Board investigation, "the airplane was trying to land at Midway when the crew encountered a sudden shift in headwinds, which the pilot sought to counter by increasing power, the standard method. But when the pilot tried to cut power a few seconds later, as the airplane touched down, the engines began accelerating to maximum power." The pilots overshot, gained altitude and shut down one engine, eventually landing without injury or damage except blown out tires. The FAA is investigating the model's throttle controls. [ [ Federal Agency Grounds Light Jet Used as Air Taxi] , The New York Times, 13 June 2008.] cite web|url =|title = NTSB On Eclipse 500 Throttle Quadrants |accessdate = 2008-06-13|last = Pew|first = Glenn|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = June]

Reports published on June 16, 2008 indicated that all 500s were compliant with the AD and cleared to fly again within one day of the AD being issued. cite web|url =|title = FAA Issues Emergency AD On Eclipse Throttles |accessdate = 2008-06-16|last = AvWeb Staff|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = June]

The company indicated that the final solution to this problem will be a software change to increase the throttle range and prevent an out-of-range condition. cite web|url =|title = Eclipse Aviation Readies Change to Software For Eclipse 500 Engine Fault Condition|accessdate = 2008-06-26|last = Eclipse Aviation Corporation|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = June]


aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet
ref=Eclipse Aviation [cite web
title=Eclipse Aviation - Specifications
crew=one or two pilots
capacity=4 to 5 passengers
length main=33 ft 1 in
length alt= 10.1 m
span main= 37 ft 3 in
span alt= 11.4 m
height main= 11 ft 0 in
height alt= 3.4 m
area main=
area alt=
empty weight main= 3,550 lb
empty weight alt= 1,610 kg
loaded weight main=5,520 lb
loaded weight alt=2,504 kg
useful load main= 2,400 lb
useful load alt= 1,089 kg
max takeoff weight main= 5,950 lb
max takeoff weight alt= 2,699 kg
more general=
engine (jet)=Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F
type of jet=turbofan engines
number of jets=2
thrust main= 900 lbf
thrust alt= 4 kN flat-rated to > ISA+10C
thrust original=
max speed main= 370 knots
max speed alt= 425 mph, 685 km/h
cruise speed main=
cruise speed alt=
never exceed speed main=
never exceed speed alt=
stall speed main=69 knots
stall speed alt=79 mph, 128 km/h
stall speed more=in landing configuration
range main= 1,125 nm
range alt= 1,295 mi, 2,084 km
ceiling main= 41,000 ft
ceiling alt= 12,500 m
climb rate main= 3,424 ft / min
climb rate alt= 1,044 m / min
loading main=
loading alt=
more performance=

  • Takeoff distance: 2,345 ft (715 m)
  • Landing distance: 2,250 ft (686 m)

  • avionics=
  • Avio Next Generation (aka Avio NG)
  • Displays: Two 768 x 1024 resolution PFD displays and One 1440 x 900 resolution MFD display
  • ee also

    * Williams V-Jet II
    similar aircraft=
    * Adam A700
    * Cessna Citation Mustang
    * Diamond D-Jet
    * Embraer Phenom 100
    see also=


    External links

    * [ Eclipse Aviation]
    * [ First look from AOPA Pilot Magazine]
    * [ Eclipse Aviation begins production of its landmark Very Light Jet (VLJ)]

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