...Eclipse Confirms Big Order...

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The Oshkosh announcement comes a couple of days after Eclipse released details of an order for up to 300 VLJs to DayJet, a company that hopes to start an on-demand charter service on the eastern seaboard. Eclipse says it has more than 2,000 orders for the 500, which was originally slated to begin delivery this year but was delayed due to a change in engine supplier. Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn told reporters on Wednesday the Pratt & Whitney Canada 610F-equipped 500 is a pleasure to fly, although there are still a few developmental bugs to work out, including improved longitudinal stability and better brakes. The first production version 500 flew on Dec. 31 (fulfilling, by a few hours, a commitment by Raburn to make the first flight by the end of 2004) and there are now three in the air. Two more will be flying within the next couple of months. Raburn said weather problems (it's been raining a lot in Albuquerque) and the normal engineering hitches to be expected in a development program have put the company 45 days behind in its "transparent" certification schedule. However, Raburn said they expect to make up for lost time by using all five test aircraft in certification flights. The original plan had been to use three planes for certification and to "fly the pants off" the other two to rack up the hours and check reliability in real-world conditions.