Eclipse, United VLJ Training Pact Dissolved

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On Wednesday night, Eclipse Aviation president and CEO Vern Raburn confirmed in a letter to customers that the start-up aircraft manufacturer and United Airlines have mutually agreed to terminate their training program partnership for Eclipse 500 pilots. This change comes right on the heels of a supplier switch for the very light jet's Avio avionics system. Raburn advises customers to take the latest news in stride: "We are currently in negotiations with an exceptional new training partner that will deliver on the Eclipse vision of comprehensive, scenario-based flight training through the curriculum we co-developed with United…we are in the final stages of a detailed multi-month selection process [and] plan to announce our new training partner within the next few weeks."

According to Raburn, the overall curriculum is not expected to change, "but will be enhanced by a partner that has deep knowledge of general aviation and Part 135 training requirements." Training providers that fit this description include SimCom, FlightSafety International and CAE SimuFlite. In the short term, United will continue to administer the Eclipse 500 pilot flight skills assessment, including the 767 assessment flight, the Myers Briggs personality test and the single-pilot resource management class. On a better note, the FAA Flight Standardization Board draft report was released on Feb. 26, allowing Eclipse to start typing pilots. According to Raburn, nine pilots have received Eclipse 500 type ratings (five from the FAA and four Eclipse instructor pilots) with four more Eclipse instructors slated to complete their type ratings soon.