Eclipse Jet Granted Double Service Life

Friction-stir welding proves stronger than rivets.

Eclipse 550 Jet

Eclipse 550 Jet

In a vote of confidence for Eclipse Aerospace’s friction-stir welding manufacturing process, the FAA has agreed to double the service life of the Eclipse 500 and 550 to 20,000 hours/20,000 cycles with an unlimited calendar life. According to the company, that means Eclipse Jet owners can fly for 50 years at typical use rates.

To obtain the life extension, Eclipse subjected a test airplane to the movements, loads and fatigue that would normally be experienced over more than 60,000 flight operations. The testing validated “the strength and superiority of the friction-stir welding” process, said Cary Winter, Eclipse senior vice president of engineering, manufacturing and technical operations.

The friction-stir welding process eliminates the need to drill holes and install more than 7,000 rivets in the airframe, where stress cracks can form. According to Eclipse, elimination of rivet holes provides an airframe that is three times stronger than a traditional riveted airframe.