The 28 Eclipse 500 aircraft formerly operated by DayJet are being offered for sale "as is" by Eclipse Aviation, reiterated Mike McConnell, president and general manager of the manufacturer´s customer division.
Eleven such aircraft are in the original configuration, fitted with Avidyne avionics, small tip tanks, no drag reduction kits and no FADEC software upgrades that boost high-altitude cruise thrust output. Five of the aircraft have the drag reduction, large tip tanks and FADEC upgrades, but they´re still equipped with pre-Avio NG Avidyne avionics. The remaining dozen aircraft conform to current production standards with both the drag reduction and engine improvements plus Avio NG avionics package.
Fleet buyers appear to be among the most promising prospects, according to McConnell. He believes that some buyers want to resell the airplanes quickly to government entities or other third parties. As the resale exclusive broker, Eclipse is entertaining offers of at least $ 1.45 million per airplane, McConnell claimed. DayJet bought the 28 aircraft for full list price and 80 percent financing was provided by an Eclipse Aviation and United Technologies consortium, a former employee told AviationWeek. So, Eclipse isn´t anxious to incur more losses by accepting fire-sale price offers.
None of the ex-DayJet aircraft is certified for flight into known icing and none is certified for GPS en route, let alone approach navigation. Eclipse still is awaiting FAA approval of its Avio NG version 1.5 software that will allow factory forward-fit installation of Garmin GPS400W navigation systems on serial number 267 and subsequent aircraft. Earlier this year, Eclipse announced its intentions to retrofit all other existing customer aircraft to this configuration under warranty coverage, but the availability and timing of such upgrades has yet to be determined.
McConnell said that if prospective buyers want Eclipse to upgrade the first 16 ex-DayJet aircraft to current production standards, "It´s going to get squirrelly." Eclipse has not established a retail price for performing such upgrades not covered by warranty and that scheduling priorities at service centers will dictate which EA 500 airplanes will be worked on first. "All current customers are in line before the DayJet airplanes."
Buyers should be aware that full factory support is critical to accomplishing such upgrades. Only aircraft fitted with both the aero and engine performance improvement package and Avio NG are eligible for the flight into known icing upgrade kit. Any airframe, system or avionics changes require modifications to the FAA-certified aircraft computer system [ACS] software because of the high level of system integration aboard the aircraft.
Of prime importance to potential buyers is the fact that Eclipse is unlikely to release ACS software source code to unauthorized third-party modifiers. As a result, obtaining independent STC approvals for any modifications, other than perhaps stand-alone, autonomous GPS navigators not be linked to other avionics or the autopilot, will be challenging and expensive.