January 2011 Issue
Phoenix Rising? Eclipse’s New Plan
The first step is to rebuild a tarnished reputation, but with the Total Eclipse program, the new company has the airplane where it should have been all along.
Back in the ebullient days of 2002, before the iPhone became the bright, shiny object du jour, our frenzy was focused on something else: The coming of the very light jet or VLJ whose speed, affordability and ease of access were going to revolutionize personal transportation in the same way the internet rewrote the rules of communication. It was to be, said a leading disciple of the cause, "disruptive technology." Six years later, the lavishly promoted rock star of the VLJ—the Eclipse EA500—was at the bottom of a billion-and-half dollar smoking hole with a reputation so besmirched that only one serious bidder emerged to buy the company’s bankrupted assets. From the ashes, the new Eclipse Aerospace hopes to be a green shoot, hitting the timing right and offering what many people in the industry still believe is a concept that ought to work: a highly automated, small, fast, economical jet that a single pilot can easily fly.
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