Eclipse, Sikorsky Sign Airframe Deal

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Eclipse Aerospace and Sikorsky subsidiary PZL Mielec have signed a deal that will see the major airframe components of the new Eclipse 550 built at the PZL plant in Poland. PZL, which now builds the international version of the Blackhawk helicopter and the M-28 fixed-wing aircraft, will build the fuselage, empennage and wings for the 550, which is the same airframe as the original Eclipse 500 with updated and enhanced electronics. The parts will be shipped from Poland to Eclipse's plant in Albuquerque for final assembly.

The announcement comes two weeks after Eclipse obtained the production certificate for the 550. The airframe is built with a process called friction stir welding and that equipment and technology will presumably be sent to Poland to build the parts. The 550 will have auto throttles, synthetic vision and enhanced vision and will sell for $2.695 million. In a recent podcast interview, Eclipse CEO Mason Holland explained the relationship with Sikorsky and said the order book for the new aircraft extends to 2014.