Aspen Avionics Fights Eclipse Suit

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Aspen Avionics founders Peter Lyons and Jeff Bethel say their hazard awareness system retrofit for older aircraft was developed before they went to work for Eclipse Aviation and that invention and non-disclosure forms they signed with Eclipse weren’t valid. According to the Albuquerque Journal, Lyons and Bethel claim -- in a response to Eclipse’s October lawsuit over ownership of the AT300 Hazard Awareness Display -- that they developed the technology in 2001 and 2002, before joining Eclipse in late 2002. Lyons and Bethel also say the only invention and disclosure agreements they signed were during the interview process and not as employees of Eclipse. Eclipse claims the pair created the device and developed their business plan on company time. The AT300 has earned praise in aviation publications for its combination of performance, ease of installation and relatively low price. The device, which fits in a standard round instrument hole in the panels of light aircraft, provides terrain awareness when connected to a panel-mounted GPS and is certified to replace the existing vertical speed indicator in most aircraft. It earned FAA certification in 2005, and Aspen Avionics also applied for a patent that same year. Eclipse applied for a similar patent this past June.