The Eclipse 500 and 550 Review
Corporate jets used to be judged by how big and fast they were. Prices for jet fuel went up from roughly thirty cents a gallon in the early 1970s to over six dollars a gallon today.
Smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient are now the watchwords of the charter and corporate flight world. Kerosene sipping engines and light weight composite materials have made a difference on existing models of aircraft, but there has been a recent trend to make jets smaller – small enough for only a few passengers to be flown by a single pilot to their destination.
The Eclipse jet has been a popular choice for fractional, air taxi and corporate flight departments who want a short to middle range jet. It is the smallest twin engined jet for sale in the world today.
It weighs only six thousand pounds soaking wet making it only slightly heavier than most middle of the road piston twin aircraft like the Piper Aztec and the Beechcraft Baron. Of course other than similar prices for a new Baron versus a new Eclipse, that is where a reasonable comparison ends. The Eclipse is one hundred and seventy five knots faster in cruise than the Baron and it can fly twenty thousand feet higher.
Air taxi companies like this aircraft because it fulfils one of their most often accomplished missions – short to medium range trips with one or two passengers.
Passengers like it because the Eclipse operates higher faster and quieter than the twin engine pistons they were used to riding during these short charter trips. They arrive quicker and less frazzled than they used to during the “bad old days” of low altitude, bumpy piston flight.
There are two models of the Eclipse jet in the skies today. The Eclipse 500 is a slightly older version of the 550 that had a few problems when it was young. The 500 is now sold through Eclipse Aerospace and it has been upgraded and refurbished into an almost new version of itself. The acquisition cost of one of these fixed-up jets is relatively low, but of course, you are getting used jet for your money, not a new one.
Both the Eclipse 500 and 550 have similar performance statistics. Once an Eclipse 500 goes through the company’s “Total Eclipse” program it has new paint, new interior, overhauled components, a 20,000 cycle (take off and landing) lifespan and a one year warranty. It is priced at $2.25 million dollars (2013 pricing).
The 550 is a totally new production jet with the latest systems and a price tag of $2.985 million.
Eclipse jets look like a scaled-down version of other business jets with a T-tail and tip tanks on the wings. It is an attractive airplane and it holds its own on the expensive, owner-operated jet ramps of any airport.
The passenger cabin of the Eclipse is as comfortable and utilitarian as any other aircraft this size. You won’t find the opulence you might find on a Boeing Business Jet or a Gulfstream, but then again, those airplanes don’t have an hourly cost of around $600 an hour. Don’t expect a huge galley or lavatory, but do expect large comfortable seats and a well ventilated, quiet ride.
The Flight Deck
This cockpit is set up for the single pilot who is buying and flying their first jet. While comfortable and easy to operate, it is a professional flight deck in every respect.
The Dual (redundant) Integrated Flight Management System in the Eclipse 550 in effect acts as a virtual copilot, making single pilot operation of the jet not only possible, but easy.
Three large screen portrait-format displays in the instrument panel provide the pilot with easy to see and read information and he or she flies the aircraft using a side-stick controller.
FAA equipment certifications for high altitude flight are all taken care of with this airplane. It can fly anywhere any other business jet or airliner can fly. With its small size and fairly good short field performance, the Eclipse can also fly to many airports whose small size would scare off bigger jets.
Most pilot/owners fly the aircraft solo with a great deal of confidence in the reliability and ease of use of this system. Avio IFMS has an Integrated Flight Management System, Class 3 E-charts, and XM Satellite Weather. The thirteen microprocessors in the IS&S displays control all the major aircraft systems. Dual WAAS / SBAS beta-3 GPS receivers from IS&S are utilized for precise navigation.
Weather radar is an available option on this aircraft, but the XM weather displays provided should keep any reasonably careful pilot out of storms and trouble.
All of these seemingly complex systems with even more complex acronyms mean that the pilot is provided with the most advanced Flight management system available for the very light jet class.
The Pratt & Whitney PW610F turbofan engine, specially designed for point-to-point travel in a new generation of light and very light jets sips twenty four gallons of jet fuel an hour and offers outstanding performance and dependability. Compact and lightweight, the PW610F has a simplified design that uses fewer parts than a conventional turbofan.
Capable of delivering 900 pounds of take-off thrust, the PW610F incorporates the latest technology to deliver highly fuel-efficient power with low carbon emissions. It also comes equipped with dual-channel full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) which translates into reduced pilot workload, increases efficiency and lowers engine maintenance costs.
Numbers, Maps and Links
|TAKEOFF DISTANCE TO 50 FT @ MGTOW||2,433 FT||742 M|
|LANDING DIST. SEA LEVEL, ISA @ 4,600-LB 2,087-KG||2,790 FT||850 M|
|RATE OF CLIMB 1||3,424 FT / MIN||1,044 M / MIN|
|TIME TO CLIMB – 35,000 FT10,688 M||22 MIN||22 MIN|
|MAX CRUISE SPEED||375 KT||694 KM / HR|
|VSO||69 KT||128 KM / HR|
|MAXIMUM ALTITUDE||41,000 FT||12,497 M|
|RANGE – MAX 2||1,125 NM||2,084 KM|
|EXTERIOR DIMENSIONS Change UnitsChange Units|
|LENGTH||33.5 FT||10.2 M|
|WINGSPAN||37.9 F||11.6 M|
|HEIGHT||11.0 FT||3.4 M|
|LENGTH||148 IN||376 CM|
|HEIGHT (MAX)||50 IN||127 CM|
|WIDTH (MAX)||56 IN||142 CM|
|MAXIMUM RAMP||6,034 LB||2,737 KG|
|MAXIMUM TAKEOFF||6,000 LB||2,722 KG|
|MAXIMUM LANDING||5,600 LB||2,540 KG|
|EMPTY||3,634 LB||1,648 KG|
|FUEL CAPACITY||1,698 LB / 251 GAL||770 KG / 950 L|
|USEFUL LOAD||2,400 LB||1,089 KG|
|2 PRATT & WHITNEY CANADA||PW610F TURBOFANS|
|TAKEOFF THRUST||900 LBF (EACH)||4.00 KN (EACH)|
Eclipse Range Map
More from the manufacturer at http://eclipseaerospace.net