Eclipse Moves Its Tail

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The tail section of the Eclipse 500 will be built in Grand Prairie, Texas, from parts made in England. Grand Prairie-based Hampson Aerospace, a subsidiary of U.K.-based Hampson Industries PLC, has won the exclusive contract to build the tail sections, which will be shipped to Eclipse's final assembly facility in Albuquerque. Hampson manager Scott Wargo said the tail might be just the beginning for the Grand Prairie plant, which will hire 135 people for the Eclipse contract. "We are in other business negotiations as well," he said, adding that "there's going to be a lot of other work." Meanwhile, Eclipse says it remains on track for certification of the 500 in the first quarter of 2006. More than 500 hours have been flown on five test aircraft and they've reached speeds of 285 knots and a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet. More earthly exercises, such as foreign-object ingestion and water-ingestion tests, have also been completed. According to Eclipse, they're just about ready to turn the planes over to FAA certification pilots.