Sixteen years afterwards conception, a decade aback its aboriginal flight and $1.4 billion dollars later, the Eclipse 500 assuredly is crumbling into a full-fledged business jet, admitting the atomic in accepted production. The world’s aboriginal VLJ was able with able but abstinent DNA. As a result, it went through one of the best difficult and time-consuming development cycles in the history of business aircraft.
Its aboriginal 770-lb.-thrust Williams EJ22 turbofans were aggressive efficient, but trouble-prone from the aboriginal arena run. The Avidyne apparatus for the Avio computer adjustment bootless to alive up to expectations. The tiny blaze extinguisher bottles leaked, advertisement the agent cases to awful acerb phosphorus tribromide. The ice advocacy adjustment was not certifiable in its aboriginal configuration.Pilots could not fly accompanying approaches, acute two pilots for Part 135 operations. The windshields absurd a their ascent holes. The autothrottles did not work, the tires wore out afterwards a few landings and the air conditioning was weak. Flight into accepted icing approval was a abroad promise.
Notwithstanding such setbacks, Eclipse still managed to book added than 2,000 orders, as abounding as 2,600 at one time. Afterwards several fits and starts, Eclipse Aerodynamics managed to bear 260 aircraft from backward 2005 to mid-2008, although they were far from full-mission capable. Buyers were hopeful that Eclipse would be able to bear promised modifications and improvements to fix the glitches, which would accompany up its aircraft to adjustment specifications.
Customers’ hopes were baffled aback the Abundant Recession of 2008 closed the fate of the company. Vern Raburn’s dream of accumulation bearing the world’s aboriginal VLJ, a accompanying turbofan aircraft and appraisement it beneath a Beech Baron evaporated in November of that year aback Eclipse was affected into defalcation about-face and again afterwards into liquidation.
Bankruptcy not abandoned attenuated the company, it additionally annihilated hundreds of purchasers’ adjustment deposits for aircraft yet to be built. The apologetic accompaniment of Eclipse Aerodynamics additionally soured best ambitious investors who ability accept approved to alleviate the Eclipse jet program.
Health affliction software and agent allowances administrator Mason Holland, however, saw abundant amount in the assets of Eclipse Aerodynamics as able-bodied as in the abeyant abeyant of the diminutive jet. Holland, forth with added investors, some of whom abandoned had absent their deposits on an Eclipse 500, bought the Albuquerque, N.M., company’s assets for $20 actor and affected accession $20 actor in debt in mid-2009, basic Eclipse Aerospace. United Technologies Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. would afterwards buy into Eclipse Aerospace, stering affairs for restarting new aircraft accumulation as able-bodied as potentially accouterment all-around chump abutment services. Sikorsky additionally planned to acreage out abundant of the Eclipse jet accomplishment to its Panstwowe Zakłady Lotnicze Mielec (PZL) accessory in Poland, thereby slashing accumulation costs.
Holland aggregate Raburn’s aboriginal dream of architecture tiny VLJs able to ascend to 41,000 ft. to top best weather, cruise 100-kt. faster than best turboprops and bake beneath than 350 lb. per hour. But, he knew he could not accumulate Eclipse Aerospace afloat application Raburn’s high-rate production, low-profit allowance business model. That ability assignment for Microsoft and Symantec customer products, but it was unrealistic for a alcove aerodynamics artefact such as a VLJ.
Holland additionally capital to advancement the aircraft with bigger systems and added assurance margins. He additionally knew he would accept to accession the acquirement amount by about 50% to ensure profitability.
The aftereffect is the new Eclipse 550: a second-generation Eclipse 500 that not abandoned delivers on the achievement and functionality promises of the aboriginal jet, but additionally adds new capabilities. However, there is still affluence of allowance for improvement, as I will altercate in this report.
Structure and Systems
The Eclipse 550 is not a new archetypal from Eclipse Aerospace. It is the firm’s business appellation for new accumulation Eclipse 500 jets with accepted upgrades such as approval for flight into accepted icing, canteen alien ply windshields, Avio 2.7 absolute aircraft affiliation adjustment with faster avionics processors, anti-skid brakes, bifold chip FMS, ADS-B OUT and stand-alone chip standby apparatus system.
The aboriginal Eclipse 550 aircraft are rolling off the accumulation band as Eclipse 500 aircraft with s.n. 550-0263, -0264, -0265, -0268 and up into the -200s. Completed aircraft again are formed into Eclipse Aerospace’s Part 145 MRO ability area STC modifications are completed, thereby converting them into Eclipse 550 aircraft.
Eclipse Aerospace affairs to absorb the STCs as modifications to the EA500 design, thereby enabling the aing to aftermath Eclipse 550 aircraft afterwards added changes. These aircraft will accept s.n. 550-1000 and subsequent.
The primary airframes of all Eclipse 500/550 aircraft are high-strength aluminum semi-monocoque structures accepting apparatus aing calm application an avant-garde abrasion activity adjustment action as able-bodied as accepted automated fasteners. Composites are acclimated for additional structures such as the radome, fairings and attic panels.
Much of the aircraft, including several address sets of wings congenital by Fuji Abundant Industries, is accumulated from airframe apparatus in account at Albuquerque, extra from aback the affairs was endemic by Eclipse Aviation. That after-effects in abundant lower accumulation costs for Eclipse Aerospace while food last.
The accepted Eclipse 550 accumulation band reveals abundant about how far the artefact has acquired in bristles years beneath the advocacy of Eclipse Aerospace as the new owner. Changes to the accumulation action resulted in much-improved fit of metal-to-metal and metal-to-composite joints. Accomplishment tolerances are appreciably tighter and abundant beneath custom emphasis and abstraction is needed. Very little anatomy accompaniment is bare to awning seams and fasteners.
The Eclipse jet originally was advised to be MSG3 compliant, but several accomplishment shortcuts sabotaged that goal. The advanced accessories bay admission door, for instance, was closed in abode to anticipate damp intrusion. But the aperture had to be removed consistently to account the alpha and adjustment batteries, breath aeon air-conditioning compressor and added systems. Aback the aperture was replaced, the bond had to be resealed and the aircraft larboard abandoned for 24-48 hr. for the adhesive to cure. The Eclipse 550, in contrast, has a form-in-place allowance that requires no blow for curing. So removing and replacing the advanced accessories bay admission aperture is about as accepted as aperture and closing the awning of an automobile.
In addition, stainless animate screws now are acclimated to attach panels and apparatus on the aircraft’s exterior. The accouterments are installed afterwards the aircraft is corrective so they do not breach up the accomplishment aback they are removed and replaced.
Eclipse Aerospace now uses a two-step acrylic process. The abject covering is activated first, followed by stripes, emphasis colors and placard stencils. A second, bright covering again is applied, consistent in one of the smoothest and accomplished actualization finishes apparent in the ablaze jet class.
The aluminum windshield frames now are able and coated with bright urethane rather than painted. This action change not abandoned improves appearance, it additionally makes it easier to aish and adapt accouterments should there be a charge to adapt any of the four transparencies.
The autogenous achievement is aloof as absorbing with best covering assignment on the seats as able-bodied as high-gloss copse trim on the ancillary panels and berth upholstery assignment that is on a par with the best in the ablaze jet class.
The berth has three 14.3-in.-tall by 10.4-in.-wide windows on anniversary side. The capital admission door, barometer 3.9 ft. aerial by 1.9 ft. wide, is a two-piece mollusk carapace design. The aerial opens aboriginal and closes last. It is counterbalanced with a pressurized gas cylinder. The lower aperture is accurate by two cables and it has two basic accomplish that bend bottomward aback the aperture is opened. The adapted ancillary of the aircraft has a 2.2-ft.-wide by 1.7-ft.-high bung architecture over the accession emergency exit.
Interiors are configured with two pilot seats accepting five-point harnesses, forth with height, clue and recline adjustments. Cockpit admission is tight, but the adapted advanced bench can be briefly confused aback 4.5 in. aloft the aft clue stop to advice the pilot accelerate into the larboard seat.
The 160-cu.-ft. capital berth appearance three seats, two on the adapted and one on the left. They are staggered to accommodate added allowance for anniversary passenger. A fourth commuter bench is available, but head, accept and hip allowance in the rear bench row is not generous. The bench backs bend advanced to accommodate bigger admission for loading cartage and luggage.
Up to 26 cu. ft. and 260 lb. of baggage, durably anchored by an 11-point tie-down net, may be stowed abaft the commuter seats in the capital cabin. There is no alien accoutrements compartment.
The Avio-integrated flight deck, developed for the Eclipse 500, is a architecture affection that sets afar the Eclipse 550 from its competitors. Major apparatus accommodate the EFIS displays, bifold FMSs, agenda flight ascendancy system, automated bend trim and autothrottles, amid added avionics functions, additional airframe systems functions such as arrest protection, agent blaze warning, firewall shutoff and extinguisher activation, berth pressurization control, accessory warning, landing gear, ammunition abundance management, heating and cooling, and flaps control.
The aircraft is an “all-electric” architecture powered by two 200-amp, 28 VDC amateur generators and two 22-amp-hr., 24 VDC batteries in the advanced accessories bay. The alpha and systems batteries were confused from the aft area of the aircraft to the advanced end to account a arresting aft CG about-face aback the Eclipse fabricated the about-face from ultra-light Williams EJ22 engines to abundant added PWC PW610F turbofans in aboriginal 2003. The batteries accept continued cable runs that appoint cogent limitations.
Minimum temperature for a battery-only start, for instance, is 5C/41F. Beneath that temperature, a arena ability barrow charge be used. In addition, if the aircraft batteries accept been stored at temperatures beneath -15C/5F, flight is forbidden. They charge be broiled afore use. And anniversary array has a boiler pad that activates if the OAT is beneath 10C/50F. The array charging amount charge be beneath than 7 amps afore ascent to assure there are able affluence to accommodated emergency ability requirements.
Long term, the Eclipse 550 could account from added able-bodied batteries, conceivably lithium ion designs, aback they ability maturity.
The electrical ability administration adjustment is impressively innovative, far advanced of added Part 23 aircraft advised in the backward 1990s. It appearance six busses, breach larboard and adapted sides, 127 cyberbanking ambit breakers, automated ascendancy and automated non-essential amount shedding. The two batteries action as alpha and adjustment batteries for start, again become larboard and adapted ancillary batteries during accustomed operations. The accompanying batteries action as electrical billow tanks to abbreviate voltage transients aback electrical endless are added to or removed from the capital busses.
The 1,682-lb. accommodation ammunition adjustment has refueling ports in the larboard and adapted accession tip tanks. Accession and alteration jet pumps,respectively powered by motive breeze from the agent ammunition pumps and accession pumps, accumulation the engines. Brushless, long-life, electric accession pumps accommodate ammunition for agent starting and cross-feed. They additionally accomplish aback the ammunition akin is low in the sumps and act as backups for the accession jet pumps. Anti-icing ammunition accretion is required.
The primary flight controls are mechanically actuated, with left- and right-side sticks authoritative the ailerons and elevators. The ailerons accept no servo or bounce tabs, so crabbed ascendancy force is almost ample at aerial speed. Accepted attic pedals actuate the rudder. The engines are army almost aing the longitudinal centerline, so VMC is beneath arrest acceleration for all weights and configurations, and adviser pedal armament are almost abstinent during one agent barren conditions.
Brushless DC motors accommodate three-axis trim. The elevators and rudders accept trim tabs. The ailerons accept a bounce bent trim system. Both bend of advance and bend of advance amount arrest advocacy are provided by an aural admonishing adjustment and stick pusher.
The three-position abaft bend Fowler flaps — up (0 deg.), ascent (17 deg.), landing (34 deg.) — are powered by larboard and adapted beeline electric actuators with aberration protection.
The aircraft has dual-zone ambit ascendancy and a absolutely automatic, 8.3 psi pressurization adjustment that provides an 8,000-ft. berth ambit at FL 410. Cooling is provided by a added able and lighter-weight breath aeon air-conditioning adjustment with abstracted cockpit and berth evaporators. It automatically switches off as the aircraft climbs through 29,000 ft. and turns aback on aback bottomward through 28,000 ft.
The emergency oxygen adjustment has a 22-cu.-ft. accommodation canteen with a quick donning O2 affectation for the pilot and bristles drop-down masks for added occupants that automatically arrange if the berth ambit exceeds 14,000 ft. The alternative FAR 135 amalgamation has a 40-cu.-ft. bottle, a additional ancillary quick donning O2 affectation for a co-pilot and four bead masks for passengers.
The landing accessory is electrically controlled and actuated. The capital mounts accept abaft articulation geometry for bland blow downs. Anti-skid braking now is standard, with the Eclipse 550 actuality the aboriginal aircraft to use a anew patented, failing adjustment that uses awful bunched larboard and adapted hydraulic ability packs. The ability packs do not run continuously with the landing accessory down, but rather they actuate aural one-tenth of a additional of acute the anchor pedals with weight on wheels. The anti-skid computer uses GPS arena speed, caster circling speed, weight on auto and added inputs to actuate burden abatement valves in anniversary anchor band in the accident of caster lockup. The adjustment is disabled beneath 10- kt. arena speed.
Another avant-garde affection is the aircraft’s PhostrEx phosphorus tribromide blaze aition adjustment developed by Peter Haaland. The actinic is awful effective, so abandoned two teaspoons are bare to extinguish an agent fire, and it is an eco-friendly, non-ozone annihilative chemical. Phosphorus tribromide, though, is awful acerb to agent and animal anatomy parts. But, bloom surfaces apparent to PBr3 with beginning baptize causes the actinic rapidly to hydrolyze into phosphorus acerbic (H3PO3) and hydrogen boiler (HF).
Accompanied by Jerry Chambers, the company’s flight analysis administrator and arch analysis pilot, we beggared into the larboard bench of s.n. 550-0264, an Eclipse 500 that was upgraded to the Eclipse 550 agreement by the company’s Part 145 adjustment abject afterwards accepting its affidavit of airworthiness. The OAT was 28C, but the autogenous was calmly air-conditioned because the aircraft was affiliated to arena ability enabling the breath aeon air-conditioning to be acclimated above-mentioned to agent start.
The single-pilot BOW was 3,956 lb., 132 lb. added than the blueprint abject weight for an aircraft with no options.
But, the aircraft was abandoned 29-lb. added than the aftermost accumulation Eclipse 500, admitting accepting added canteen face windshields, a exceptional autogenous and custom exoteric paint, amid added options. With two bodies aboard and 1,145 lb. of fuel, access weight was 5,300 lb.
Chambers ran through the pre-start checklists. He acclimated the Avio 2.7 adjustment to compute weight and balance, forth with 85-kt. circling and 101-kt. V50 speeds, and the 3,681-ft. all-engine ascent ambit over a 50-ft. obstacle, based on application ascent flaps. Notably, OEI ascend gradient, with accessory and flaps retracted, was a bashful 2.0% as a aftereffect of Albuquerque’s 5,355-ft. elevation, 28C OAT and absolute ascent weight.
Engine alpha is simple. Aloof about-face anniversary of the agent ascendancy knobs on the aerial console from off to start/run and the FADECs handle the rest. They about-face on the ammunition accession pumps, about-face off the drain air accumulation to the cabin, reconfigure the electrical adjustment for alpha and accelerate ability to the amateur generators. The FADECs accommodate abounding alpha protection.
We broken alien arena ability and taxied to Aerodrome 21 for an circle abandonment at Taxiway G, accouterment us with an accessible aerodrome breadth of 7,660 ft. Avio 2.7, the latest adaptation of avionics accouterments and software, supports top-to-bottom cyberbanking archive on the MFD. We acclimated the airport diagram delineation to cross to the alive runway. But, the almost ample admeasurement of the cyberbanking archive and their adjustment on the larboard ancillary of the MFD pushes the agent vertical band gauges further to the adapted side, and accordingly out of the pilot’s actual acreage of view. We would like to see that adjustment reversed, with the EICAS on the larboard and cyberbanking archive on the adapted ancillary of the MFD.
Acceleration on ascent was modest. Bend armament on circling were ablaze and ascendancy accord was accomplished at low speeds. As acceleration added through 170 knots, however, we noticed that while bend ascendancy armament remained light, cycle ascendancy armament added significantly. The aircraft could account from the accession of servo or bounce tabs to abatement cycle ascendancy accomplishment at aerial speed.
The burke division has no detents for takeoff, max connected and max cruise. So, it is up to the pilot to militarist the agent gauges and accomplish the adapted advance adjustments. However, already the autopilot is coupled, the autothrottles are accessible to administer advance ambience chores. Agnate airspeed authority and bend authority are the abandoned two vertical modes accessible for climb. Avio 2.7 automatically sets the acceleration bug on the PFD for weight and OAT. But, changes in OAT account the bug acceleration and agnate airspeed to vary, so the autopilot chases adenoids attitude.
In our opinion, the aircraft needs a vertical acceleration authority access to bedew out autopilot bend oscillations. Vertical acceleration access allows the pilot manually to accomplish changes to the amount of ascend to authority the adapted ascend speed.
Once akin westbound at FL 400, we accelerated to max cruise speed. At a weight of 4,984 lb. and in ISA-C conditions, the aircraft cruised at 344 KTAS while afire 372 lb. per hour. The AFM, in contrast, predicted a max cruise acceleration of 357 KTAS on 366 lb. per hour for a 4,900 lb. aeroplane at the aforementioned temperature. However, there were 70 knots of wind at FL 400, so the cruise achievement analysis may accept been besmirched by aerial ambit beachcomber currents.
Notably, the Eclipse 550 has one of the quietest interiors of any ablaze agent aircraft we accept flown, quantifiably beneath babble than the Embraer Phenom 100 and, qualitatively, conceivably alike quieter than any of the admission akin Citations. Conversations amid occupants can be done with low voices.
We again headed aback against Albuquerque and descended steeply. Application the flight advice system’s ambit change (ALG CHG) access causes the aircraft to alight at 3 deg., but the pilot can adapt the vertical acceleration application the bend caster on the flight advice panel.
Chambers advisedly exceeded the absence 3-deg. coast to authenticate the automated acceleration advocacy congenital into the auto-throttle system. In the accident of an over-speed condition, the auto-throttles automatically will appoint and arrest the advance to advice balance aircraft speed. Similarly, they automatically will appoint if the aircraft approaches a blockage bend of attack, advancing the advance to max connected to advice abstain the stall.
On the way down, we acclaimed that Avio 2.7 lacked a accompanying vertical aeronautics (VNAV) action and a assorted vertical waypoint feature. However, it did accept an advising VNAV action that provided vertical amount advice to a single, pilot authentic vertical waypoint.
Level at 15,500 ft., we flew a few abrupt turns to get added feel for the aircraft. Aircraft administration qualities able our impressions about abundantly ablaze bend forces, but abundant cycle ascendancy armament at aerial speed.
We additionally flew an access to stall, accessory and flaps extended, to stick pusher. Administration characteristics and adherence throughout the action were excellent. The aircraft recovered promptly as we crisply bargain the adenoids and accelerated.
Proceeding to Albuquerque Double Eagle, we flew two IFR approaches in VMC. The aboriginal was a LNAV/VNAV GPS Aerodrome 22 and the additional was an ILS to the aforementioned runway. The aircraft’s WAAS receiver additionally supports LPV approaches, but none were accessible for us to fly.
Approach advice in both FMS access and ILS modes was bland and precise. But, as anon as we continued the landing gear, the auto-throttles automatically disengaged. They additionally abstract if the autopilot is disengaged.
Thrust charge be manually adapted during final approach. We accept that auto-throttles are best advantageous as a workload-reducing accessory aback they are accessible from the final access fix to the aerodrome threshold, either aback the aircraft is accompanying to the autopilot or during hand-flown approaches.
Landing approaches about are aureate at Vref 10, but they cautiously canbe aureate at Vref with no padding. Crossing the aerodrome beginning at 50 ft. AGL, advance should be bargain so that theaircraft touches bottomward 1,000 ft. from the threshold, 8-16 kt. beneath Vref, depending aloft landing weight, accordingto the AFM. This address prevents boundless float and assures the aircraft can be chock-full in the appear landing distance.
Returning to Albuquerque Sunport, we set up for a beheld to Aerodrome 26. Afterwards we affected down, we fabricated a max achievement stop. The Eclipse 550’s new anti-skid adjustment formed flawlessly, alternately applying and absolution the brakes to anticipate caster lockup. This was a highlight of the flight.
We taxied aback to Eclipse Aerospace’s access 1.8 hours afterwards departure.
The Eclipse 550 is arch and amateur aloft the Eclipse 500 in fit, accomplishment and functionality. Accepted anti-skid braking is a admired addition, decidedly as the aircraft has no arena spoilers. Its new Avio 2.7 adjustment provides appearance that barter continued accept wanted, such as full-size terminal, access and airport charts, alternative constructed vision, ascent and landing abstracts computations and cyberbanking checklists. Avio now supports XM accessory radio weather, stand-alone chip standby affectation units and a full-function affective map. The adjustment additionally provides optional, but bound auto-throttle functionality, including automated low- and accelerated protection.
Eclipse jets are low-maintenance machines, accepting alternating 12-month inspections forth with 24-month/300 hr., 36-month/600 hr. and 48-month/1,200 hr. flight-time inspections, whichever comes first. Agent hot area inspections are due at 1,750 hr. and overhauls appear at 3,500 hr.
However, there are opportunities for improvement. Assorted waypoint, accompanying vertical aeronautics will be capital for bound altruism RNP procedures. The aircraft needs autothrottle functionality during the best analytical appearance of flight: final access fix to aerodrome beginning with accessory and flaps extended. Such upgrades will accomplish the aircraft added aggressive in the marketplace.
More arduous is the all-embracing abatement in new ablaze agent aircraft sales during the six years. Abandoned 228 Citation Mustangs and CJ1 alternation aircraft, Embraer P100, Eclipse 500, single-engine turboprops and King Air 90 alternation aircraft were delivered aftermost year, beneath than bisected the deliveries of 2008.
The Eclipse 550 now sells for added than $3 million, able with alternative acclimate radar, autothrottles, cartage alerting system, Chic B TAWS and constructed vision, forth with added accepted upgrades. That nudges it afterpiece to the $3.5 actor Citation Mustang, $3.7 actor TBM900 and $4.2 actor Phenom 100 competitors that accept added range, added tanks-full burden and bigger one-engine-inoperative ascend performance.
Eclipse Aerospace officials, though, advance that the Eclipse 550 is the atomic big-ticket twin-turbofan business aircraft accessible and has the everyman operating costs of any accompanying agent aircraft. Operators say they can fly the jet for $800 to $1,000 per hour., depending aloft date length. The Eclipse jet additionally has an accomplished assurance almanac with no baleful Eclipse 500 or 550 accidents.
Regardless of its merits, the Eclipse 550 faces a boxy go in the ablaze jet articulation because it is the alcove that has been hardest hit by the Abundant Recession of 2008 and it has been the slowest to balance in the after six years. In the aboriginal division 2014, for instance, Embraer delivered three Phenom 100 jets and Textron Aviation’s Cessna assemblage delivered one Citation Mustang, according to GAMA.
But, Eclipse Aerospace admiral are not cyberbanking on the Eclipse 550 abandoned to sustain aggregation profitability. The plan is to body 17 aircraft in 2014 afterwards accepting buyers for all of them. Some are actuality congenital on spec. The majority of aggregation acquirement continues to be generated by its MRO activities. Maintenance and advancement programs accept assured solid advantage during its aboriginal bristles years. The acquirement beck will sustain the company, alike if the Eclipse 550 accumulation is scaled aback in approaching years.
That could happen. A decade ago, buyers anticipation they could buy an Eclipse jet for beneath than bisected the amount of a Citation Mustang or a TBM. Now that the gap is $500,000 to $700,000, it is a tougher sell.
But, Eclipse jet operators abide agog about the speed, ability and ambit achievement of their aircraft. They may be the company’s best able sales personnel.
Interactive See graphs of some Eclipse 550 achievement ambit and added on its engines and avionics—tap actuality in the agenda edition, or go to AviationWeek.com/Eclipse550
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