Eclipse looks to improve production processes

  • 30-Jun-2008 06:34 EDT
Eclipse Aviation claims to have reached the 100-unit production milestone faster than any other general-aviation jet aircraft manufacturer.

Eclipse Aviation will use an integrated software suite from Right Hemisphere to generate consistent and transferable manufacturing and maintenance procedures for its production facilities in Albuquerque, NM, and for its various service centers in the U.S.

Illustrated production and maintenance instructions will be derived from the original 3-D CAD files that were used in the engineering development of the airplane maker’s Eclipse 500, a very light jet.

“Eclipse Aviation strives to use the most advanced technology available, and the design of the Eclipse 500 was guided by this principle,” said Vern Raburn, Eclipse Aviation President and CEO, who noted that use of the Right Hemisphere product complements the company’s emphasis on continuous improvement.

Use of the integrated software suite, which already is used by several commercial and general-aviation manufacturers, will reduce the time required to create written production and maintenance directions. It also will reduce the time required for the interpretation needed to change engineering models into production applications. Production line technicians can visualize work as it is performed and make improvements at any step in the process.

The product is expected to improve processes at the plant, which already are efficient. Eclipse has produced and certified 104 500s since December 31, 2006. That makes it “the fastest general-aviation jet aircraft manufacturer in history to produce its first 100 airplanes,” according to the company.

“Our goal this year remains ramping production, and that means anything we can do to become more efficient is what we’re working on,” said company spokeswoman Alana McCarraher. The company does not release figures for projected production numbers, she said, but the company plans to produce “significantly more in 2008” than it did in 2007.

McCarraher noted that Eclipse is producing one aircraft per day. “We believe we can eventually produce four aircraft per day,” she said. “But to get to our ultimate goal, that could take years.”

On January 14, Eclipse announced that under an expanded partnership with Luxembourg-based ETIRC Aviation, a European assembly plant is being considered. The leading candidate site at the moment is the city of Ulyanovsk in Russia. With its equity investment of more than $100 million under the expanded partnership, ETIRC will become the largest single investor in Eclipse Aviation.

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Boeing and Airbus forecast a worldwide demand for up to 40,000 new aircraft over the next two decades. With a 10-year production backlog and new aircrafts increasingly counting on lightweight composites, manufacturing companies are developing advanced sandwich-structure composite solutions to fill the production gap.

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