ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Eclipse Aerospace announced that it has reached a major milestone Wednesday morning.
They say it is a good sign that its jet manufacturing operation is taking off.
Eclipse Aerospace has delivered its first Eclipse 550 Jet to a customer, a big step forward for the company following certification by the FAA.
The company first announced production of the 550 jet in Albuquerque in June of 2012.
Eclipse says the jet can fly at 430 miles per hour, at an altitude of up to 41,000 feet and is the most fuel-efficient small jet in production. When in cruise, the 550 consumes only 59 gallons of fuel per hour.
Eclipse says it also features safety features and technology traditionally found on commercial aircraft.
Last September, Eclipse unveiled the new jet at a convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Eclipse says production of the jet, which runs at approximately $2.9 million, is ramping up and so is customer interest.
In 2008, the former company, Eclipse Aviation, filed for bankruptcy and laid off its workers.
Eclipse Aerospace CEO Mason Holland told KRQE News 13 this is a big step forward for the company and for the city that saw Eclipse Aviation collapse.
“It’s got to be big for Albuquerque as well, because it marks a signal of a milestone we’ve achieved after four years of pretty hard work,” Holland said.
Holland wouldn’t release hard numbers, but said a good number of orders are lined up for the year.
Eclipse is now looking toward the future, and possibly expanding its product line beyond the 550 jet. A spokesperson for the company couldn’t expand on what other aircraft Eclipse could be developing, but said final production of any product would likely stay in Albuquerque.
Right now, 175 people are employed at Eclipse.
A recent partnership with the city, state and Eclipse is supposed to help expand the company, with both the city and state giving the company a total of more than half a million dollars.
The partnership is expected to result in at least 100 new manufacturing jobs over the next two years, bringing the number of employees at Eclipse in Albuquerque to 275.