The twin-engine Eclipse 550 is a true “personal jet”—small, nimble, and designed to be flown by an owner-pilot. Now the five-seat (a sixth-seat option is available) jets are available to all pilots through time-share, lease, and jet card programs offered by Ascension Air.
The Atlanta-based company manages a fleet of Cirrus piston airplanes, and says the Eclipse jet is a natural step up for its customers, but it will also provide training for other qualified pilots ready to acclimate to the jet. Ascension Air offers its Eclipse customers access to experienced safety pilots, who can fly along with a new jet pilot until he or she is comfortable flying solo. Even after a pilot is fully checked out, the program provides access to a safety pilot anytime, at no additional cost. Prices for the lease packages start at $40,000 for the Contrails JetCard, which includes 25 hours of flight time. The company also offers time-share and lease options that allow 50 flying days per year.
The highly efficient jet costs only 60 cents per mile more to fly than a high-performance piston plane, according to Eclipse—which joined forces last year with Kestrel Aircraft to form One Aviation. The Eclipse 550 can fly at altitudes up to 41,000 feet and it cruises up to 430 mph, while consuming just 59 gallons of fuel per hour. Its maximum range is 1,125 miles. (ascensionair.net; oneaviation.aero)