Mustang Gains On Eclipse

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While development of Cessna's Mustang entry-level jet appears to be slightly ahead of schedule, Eclipse Aviation has announced another delay in getting its revolution-starting very light jet (VLJ) to market. The FAA granted Cessna Type Inspection Authority last week, several weeks earlier than scheduled. TIA signifies the time when the flight hours accumulated on the test aircraft start counting toward certification. Cessna is now saying first deliveries will be late in 2006. Eclipse has been going through active certification for some time but it's a supplier's certification problems that are forcing a delay, according to Eclipse. The new best guess for first deliveries of the Eclipse 500 is now sometime in the second quarter of 2006 (instead of in the first quarter, as previously planned). In an interview with the Albuquerque Business Journal, Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn said problems with a single supplier are causing the delay. He said the company, which he refused to identify, hasn't been able to certify its production process, which is critical to the overall certification of the aircraft. "They haven't delivered on the schedule they've been contracted to," Raburn said. "Today it is effectively one vendor that's causing the delay" He said the supplier's problems did not concern reliability or functionality issues. Raburn did confirm that the supplier is U.S.-based.