By Glenn Pew, Contributing Editor, Video Editor
The FAA has granted Eclipse Aerospace a Production Certificate for the new Eclipse 550 twin-engine very light jet, signaling an FAA-certified production process and established supply chain for the aircraft. Senior Vice President of Eclipse, Cary Winter, explained Eclipse is now well-positioned for production and the company now looks forward "to advancing the Eclipse 550 aircraft to full scale production." The company, which has focused on providing service parts and support for the Eclipse fleet, plans to now advance toward production with the help of financial backing won in February 2011.
Sikorsky Aircraft Company early last year invested in Eclipse. According to Eclipse CEO Mason Holland, Sikorsky "remains a significant investor in [Eclipse]." Holland says his company will draw on the experience and expertise of Sikorsky while moving toward production "with its own team." Eclipse has held production as a long-term goal and those plans are unchanged. "We continue to support field aircraft, sell Total Eclipse aircraft, and built the Eclipse 550 new production order book with initial deliveries planned in 2013." In other recent developments, Eclipse announced Tuesday that the largest operator of Eclipse 500 aircraft in North America, North American Jet Charter Group (NAJ), has been approved for paperless cockpit on Part 135 flights. NAJ will now operate an Electronic Flight Bag based on the iPad, which, among other things, will save pilots 35 pounds of paper per aircraft.