Aircraft Review

August 2008 Issue

Eclipse Owner Views: Warts, Yes, But Still Sweet

For their years-long wait, early buyers got a high-value deal and lots of equity. Complaints center on avionics capability and uncertain upgrade schedules.

Further straining any attempt to nail down an evaluation of the Eclipse is the companyís rubbery delivery promises. It has slipped schedules so many times, made volume predictions that havenít materialized and, in our view, delivered an airplane short enough of its original promise that itís tempting to focus solely on these shortcomings rather than the airplane itself. Eclipse has been masterful in promoting itself but, in our opinion, reluctant to let the aviation press see what the airplane will really do. Curiously, some owners are nearly as secretive. With Eclipse refusing press demos, we asked several owners for test rides. Only one agreed, because he loves the airplane and wanted to show that it could strut its stuff. Other owners agreed to speak to us but only if we promised not to use their names. Why such worries? One owner said he was worried that Eclipse wouldnít deliver on promised upgrades if he beefed about the airplane in public; another said he just didnít want the hassle, but would answer all of our questions. One fleet operator did speak to us on the record.

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