...Eclipse Makes Grand Entrance, Flies Second Jet...

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Although Eclipse Aviation is now considered a long-time exhibitor at Sun 'n Fun, it was an elated CEO Vern Raburn who introduced the first type-conforming Eclipse 500 to the public here on Friday, in its first appearance ever out of Albuquerque. "This is the first fully conforming, pre-production, very light jet," he said emphatically. "This is not a prototype, not a one-off, not a kit you build yourself." The plane flew in powered by the Pratt and Whitney Canada PW601F engines developed for Eclipse after it parted ways with Williams International two years ago, setting back the certification and delivery schedules by a commensurate amount. However, Raburn said those difficulties are behind the company now. "We're really on the way now. It really is coming true." The jet took about five hours to fly in from Albuquerque at FL250, and averaged about 270 knots. Before embarking on the cross-country trek, however, the first 500 had some important work to do back in Albuquerque. The original 500 flew chase as the second type-conforming jet had its maiden flight on Thursday. A third certification test plane is expected to fly soon as the company moves toward certification sometime in 2006. Thursday's flight involved assessing handling, a pressurization check and checks of the electrical system. Click here to see AVweb's gallery of photos of the jet's arrival at Sun 'n Fun.