Meanwhile, Eclipse 500 Expands Operating Envelope, Fire Systems

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Another entrant in the race to bring a VLJ to market, Eclipse Aviation Corporation, used is presence at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh to showcase its Eclipse 500 in fly-bys and update attendees on its flight-test program. According to the company, aircraft N502EA recently reached its service ceiling and its maximum operating speed for the first time. Those numbers are FL410 and a Vmo of 285 knots. Eclipse says its four-aircraft flight-test fleet has exceeded 200 flight hours total and is now aiming to complete key certification, function and reliability testing. A fifth aircraft, N506EA, is in its final assembly position and will join N502EA, N503EA, N504EA and N505EA in the air this summer. Two other airframes are being used for ground-based certification tests. The company also announced that testing for the Eclipse 500's fire-suppression system, PhostrEx, is complete and approved by both the FAA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “We have now confirmed the Eclipse 500’s excellent handling at the high and low end of the operating envelope,” said Eclipse Aviation President and CEO Vern Raburn. “Recently, our flight test program completed the high end and in 2003, we concluded a highly successful N500EA flight test program that opened the lower end of the operating envelope while completing 117 stalls.” Meanwhile, Eclipse says PhostrEx, which addresses the drawbacks of Halon-based fire suppression systems, will be certified on the Eclipse 500. According to Eclipse, PhostrEx meets the requirements of both the Montreal Protocol and the Clean Air Act, and will be the first commercially viable, FAA-certified fire-extinguishing agent designed to replace Halon. PhostrEx is patented by Eclipse and weighs approximately 90 percent less than a traditional Halon system. Eclipse says it will explore establishing a separate company to market the technology in other aviation- and land-based fire-suppression applications.