9:52 PM

Raburn serves up
‘Crowe’ to his skeptics

From the day that Vern Raburn announced his lofty goal to build a full-tilt personal jet for about a million USD, the skeptics lined up en masse to blow his plan out of the water. “Can’t be done,” said some pessimists, "it'll never happen," said others, to the occasional “Raburn is plumnuts crazy.”

So this milestone was especially sweet:

Vern Raburn, Eclipse Aviation president and CEO, joined his employees to witness the initiation of the production line that will build the company's Eclipse jet. His first customer, David Crowe, stepped up to engage the friction stir welding of one of his future jet's cockpit side panels and to drill window attachment holes in the cockpit frame.
The idea of inviting his very first customer to fire up the E500 assembly line is a brilliant PR stunt, coming from a company that seems to be doing everything right. All major wire services picked this story up, and now the world knows that Eclipse has officially moved from pipe dream to legit aircraft production company.

Crowe made these remarks while watching his E500 being built:
It takes some pretty special people to have the dedication to carry through a project like the Eclipse 500. Folks who work here are not just punching timecards -- I can feel that every time I visit.
Crowe will receive his Eclipse 500 right after the anticipated FAA certification due to come in late May. I have to say that Raburn and Eclipse must be quite confident in the timing of that airworthiness certificate hitting their mailbox. It takes some serious cajones to fire up the assembly line and begin building customer jets when the FAA still holds the cards to your future.

But then again, just about everyone in aviation knows it takes cajones to even TRY to build a twin-engine bizjet and sell it the price range Raburn has promised.

Congratulations to everyone at Eclipse who made this special day happen. It marks a big turning point in the future of aviation, and this is OFFICIALLY the green flag dropping on the VLJ horse race.

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