Chair Force Engineer

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Tour of the Eclipse Aviation Plant

I got to see the Eclipse Aviation plant on Saturday, where the revolutionary Eclipse 500 small business jet will be built. I went on my own time, not on Air Force business. I hope that nobody gets the impression that the Air Force is interested in buying the Eclipse (although it wouldn't be surprising if this eventually happened.)

Cockpit inside the Eclipse 500 mockup.

The main wing spar. It is surprisingly light.

A cutaway of the wing, produced by Fuji Heavy Industries. It's hard to believe that only five bolts hold the wing onto the aircraft.

The original Eclipse, aircraft #101. A lot has changed since it was retired in October 2003. The Teledyne engines on the prototype were temporary while waiting for the PW610F engines to arrive. The prototype also has speedbrakes on the tail cone (the later aircraft have none,) and square wingtips (production planes have pods on the wingtips.)

The PW610F turbofan, which produces 900 pounds of thrust at takeoff. This engine is mounted to aircraft 107.

Aircraft 107 under construction.

An L-39 "Albatros" trainer, owned by Eclipse Aviation.

The friction-stir welding machine. The process joins metal panels without heavy, high-drag rivets. Boeing uses friction-stir welding on the Delta IV rocket, and it might be used on the Shuttle ET too.