...Eclipse Scores More Orders...

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Meanwhile, the fine folks at Eclipse Aviation might be slitting their wrists if they had only 295 orders. In fact, the company announced this week at NBAA that its order book for the Eclipse 500 VLJ now tops 2,350 aircraft. This includes 1,592 firm orders with 765 options; all 2,357 aircraft are secured with non-refundable deposits and the latest sales number was sharply boosted by two recent fleet orders. Massachusetts air-taxi operator Linear Air signed up for 30 aircraft and U.K.-based JetSet Air Ltd. wants 50 copies. "The Eclipse 500 order book is the largest in the VLJ segment, and we attribute this to our ability to deliver the industry's highest-performance jet at a breakthrough price," said Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse Aviation.

Linear Air currently operates in the Boston and New York City areas, and plans to significantly expand its fleet into a host of North American markets over the coming years. The company placed 15 firm orders and 15 options; it will start operations in the first 24 months of Eclipse production. JetSet Air Ltd intends to use its VLJs to offer on-demand and scheduled shuttle services from the U.K. to popular European and British destinations. Its plans include 25 firm orders and 25 options, and also will begin operations in the first 24 months of Eclipse 500 production. Eclipse also used the NBAA convention to announce a comprehensive customer care program -- dubbed JetComplete Business -- aimed at business operators. The program is designed to support aircraft flying between 250 and 1,500 hours each year in business or commercial use. The Eclipse 500 is scheduled for FAA certification by March 31, 2006, although company officials informally warned that target could slip.