...Starting 15 Months Of Testing

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Friday's flights mark a milestone for the company, which delayed flight testing for almost two years after its first choice of Williams International engines didn't pan out. On Friday, the prototype jet climbed to 16,800 feet and reached 200 knots during the first tests, and completed all scheduled tasks. (See it for yourself: Eclipse has posted several short videos on its Web site.) Basic maneuverability and various aircraft systems were checked, Eclipse said. N503EA is fully equipped with pressurization and climate-control and ice-protection systems. The flights are the first in a 15-month testing program that will involve seven test airframes, more than 3,000 flight hours and several hundred hours of ground testing, culminating in FAA certification in March 2006, Eclipse said. The flight-test program will involve seven pre-production aircraft: one static test airframe, one fatigue test airframe and five additional flight-testing aircraft. The company also said, in celebration of the flight-test milestone, that customers who order an Eclipse 500 by Feb. 28 will receive a free upgrade to the LX Edition.