Eclipse Prototype Flies...

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Off The Drawing Board At Last

Eclipse Aviation's first Eclipse 500 certification aircraft flew twice on Friday, just making the company's own deadline. "As we promised on January 31, 2003, we have resumed flight testing by December 31, 2004, with the PW610F engines," CEO Vern Raburn said in a news release on Friday. Aircraft N503EA, powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F turbofan engines, took off from the Albuquerque International Sunport Airport for its maiden flight, which lasted one hour and 29 minutes. After a thorough inspection by flight-test engineers, N503EA was cleared and departed again at 3:59 p.m. The second flight lasted 54 minutes. The aircraft successfully completed all maneuvers in the test area during the flights, Eclipse said. The flights were conducted in a designated test zone located south of Albuquerque. "This is a very important day for aviation and the VLJ [Very Light Jet] market we pioneered," Raburn said. "We are the first manufacturer to fly an FAA conforming VLJ and we are destined to be the first to certify and deliver this new breed of jet into customers' hands."