Eclipse Aerospace is targeting July for the entry-into-service of its new Eclipse 550s, Chairman and CEO Mason Holland says. The company in June restarted the production line that had been shuttered for nearly four years.
Plans are to deliver the first couple of new Eclipse 550s in July and build up to a production rate of 2-2 ½ per month by the end of the year, he tells Aviation Week. Production eventually would gradually increase in 2014 to four per month for a target of 48 per year.
Holland believes that is a sustainable rate for the aircraft – but the company’s plant in Albuquerque, N.M. could build more than 100 per year if required. He’s hoping that may be the case should the U.S. Air Force issue a contract for very light jets to replace aging T-1A Jayhawks (Beechjet 400s).
Eclipse Aerospace is hoping to secure a potential contract to replace the fleet of T-1As flown for the U.S. Air Force Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT) program.
The company responded Jan. 7 to an Air Force request for information (RFI) for a potential large fleet of very light jets (VLJs) to support the SUPT Multi-place Training Track.
The Air Force currently operates about 178 Jayhawks for the program, but Holland believes it could meet the same training requirements with just 100 of the Eclipse jets.