Eclipse intends to assemble jets like some PC makers build computers, an unheard of tactic in the industry, making it vulnerable to delays caused by suppliers. The air-taxi industry, meanwhile, which aims to ferry passengers between underserved cities on these jets, is in its infancy. In any case, the market for such jets is promising to be crowded.
Mr. Raburn’s jet sells for about $1.5 million and comes appointed with leather seats and safety features that rival those of a Boeing or Airbus jetliner. Yet it’s just 33 feet long, weighs half as much as a Chevrolet Suburban and can blast halfway across the country at 430 miles an hour. It’s also simple enough to be flown by a single pilot.
So far, privately held Eclipse Aviation Corp. says it has taken more than $3.4 billion in orders for 2,400 jets since opening for business in the late 1990s.