Eclipse Flies Jet No. 4

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Eclipse Aviation flew its fourth conforming test aircraft for the first time on Saturday. N505EA took off at 1:44 p.m. from the Albuquerque (N.M.) International Sunport, climbed to 15,000 feet and reached 160 knots. The aircraft flew for 43 minutes and completed initial tests of flap operation, pressurization, and handling characteristics. 5EA is the first of two beta-test jets that will be tested under accelerated usage conditions to ensure reliability and functionality, the company said. "With four out of five of our flight test aircraft now in the air, we are generating rich data and invaluable learnings every day that will allow us to continue to move aggressively towards FAA certification next year,'' CEO Vern Raburn said in a news release. Eclipse is manufacturing seven preproduction aircraft: one static test airframe, one fatigue test airframe and five flight test aircraft. The final flight test aircraft and second beta test jet, N506EA, is in its final assembly position and will launch this summer. The first Eclipse test plane made its first flight on Dec. 31. Two other test aircraft launched in April. The jet flew in to Sun 'n Fun in April for a static display, and will perform its first public flight demonstrations later this month at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh.