Thursday, May 22, 2008

Total Eclipse

Eclipse Aviation's latest innovation, the ECJ (for Eclipse Concept Jet) is visiting Mojave for a few days during its flight test program. The ECJ was first announced at the 2007 Oshkosh AirVenture as a concept for a 4-place "personal jet", and at the time Eclipse's CEO Vern Raburn said that within 12 months the company would announce whether the aircraft would be going into production.
This proof-of-concept version is currently unpressurized, but the goal is to have an aircraft capable of 345 knots and a 41,000 foot service ceiling. According to Raburn, the ECJ has about 60% commonality with the Eclipse 500 VLJ, including the Avio NG, the computerized system which controls the autopilot, FADEC, air data system, and flap and landing gear actuation. Power is produced by a single Pratt & Whitney PW615F turbofan engine, which produces 1,100 pounds of thrust.
While it remains to be seen whether this innovative, all-composite jet will turned into a production model, one thing is certain: the designers (Eclipse partnered with Swift Engineering to design and build the plane) came up with a concept that looks like it's fast even when simply sitting in the hangar.
(Many thanks to the folks at Eclipse for letting me shoot such a gorgeous plane!)