Eclipse Update I: Certification Static Testing Complete
Eclipse Aviation's entry into the coming very light jet (VLJ) sweepstakes cleared another major hurdle on its rush toward certification earlier this month when the company completed FAA-required static testing of the Eclipse 500 airframe. According to the company, the FAA approved the airframe for an initial 10,000-hour lifetime, which Eclipse says "is significantly higher than typically approved by the FAA." By contrast, initial type certification of the Adam 500, an all-composite piston twin forming the foundation for the Adam Aircraft Industries A700 AdamJet, was FAA type-certificated with a 250-hour airframe life limit. The Eclipse 500 is a metal design. Predictably, Eclipse executives were enthusiastic. "We are also pleased that, based on our extensive work with the FAA, the Eclipse 500 has been approved for an initial 10,000 hour lifetime at type certification. The designed fatigue life for the Eclipse 500 is 20,000 hours, which will be demonstrated through testing over the next two years," said Eclipse Aviation Vice President of Engineering Ken Harness. Eclipse says completing the static certification testing means the aircraft remains on schedule for the planned FAA type certificate in March 2006 and added that all testing was "completed successfully without failure, eliminating the need for any redesign or re-testing." "The fact that the Eclipse 500 static airframe accomplished all test points on the first pass with no failures reflects our commitment to design and build a jet that will meet the high utilization demands of the air taxi and corporate aviation segments," Harness added. Eclipse will perform fatigue tests on another airframe next spring to validate structural continued airworthiness. Initially, extending the airframe's life beyond 10,000 hours -- perhaps to 20,000 -- will be based, in part, on results from that testing. The initial FAA-approved 10,000-hour lifetime is contingent on the remaining reports and testing to be submitted by Eclipse for type certification.