Eclipse Aerospace Delivers First 550

** Eclipse 550**

The first Eclipse 550 customer has left the Eclipse Aerospace factory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as the manufacturer delivered the first modified version of the original very light jet, the Eclipse 500. The delivery was achieved less than two years after production restarted, but about six months later than the company had hoped when it achieved the full production certificate for the assembly facility almost exactly one year ago.

The airplane incorporates the Eclipse-exclusive, fully integrated Avio avionics suite with newly incorporated high-resolution screens that offer faster processing speeds than previous versions. An electronic standby instrument is also included and the system offers options for synthetic and enhanced vision. The $2.895 million Eclipse 550, which is capable of flying 1,125 nautical miles and cruise at speeds up to 375 knots, recently achieved supplemental type certification for auto throttles and anti-skid brakes. The cabin offers forward-facing seating for up to six people, including the pilot, but with a full fuel payload of 702 pounds, a lot of fuel would have to be left at home to fill the seats.

Eclipse Aerospace bought the Eclipse assets after Eclipse Aviation went bankrupt in 2009. The company started out by supporting the existing fleet of Eclipse 500s, which collectively have accumulated more than 300,000 flight hours, and announced its intent to restart production in 2011.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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