Eclipse Update II: Test Fleet Racks Up 500 Hours

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Following closely on the heels of the end of static airframe testing, Eclipse Aviation this week announced its fleet of five certification-research aircraft has flown a combined 500 hours of test flights. Eclipse said flight tests completed thus far in its certification program included lightweight foreign object debris (FOD) testing at power settings up to takeoff thrust and at speeds up to 70 knots, water-ingestion testing at speeds up to 100 knots, 20 landings in one day on one aircraft to test tire wear, and endurance testing with single flights of more than three hours. Given the high-cycle nature of the various air taxi operations with pending orders for copies of the Eclipse 500, the company stressed the test fleet's ability to conduct multiple flights per day with high dispatch reliability and while successfully completing significant test points. "Our recent progress demonstrates that we will deliver what we promised to our customers -- a jet that will withstand and exceed the rigors of high-cycle operations," said Eclipse Aviation President and CEO Vern Raburn. "Our test aircraft are proving to be exactly what we intended when we designed the Eclipse 500 -- high performing, reliable and easy to maintain." So far, the various aircraft constituting the Eclipse 500 test fleet have achieved speeds of 285 knots and altitudes up to FL410. The five aircraft involved are N502EA, N503EA, N504EA, N505EA and N506EA. Most recently, and as AVweb reported, aircraft N505EA experienced a gear-up incident on Saturday, Sept. 3, which was attributed to pilot error.