Eclipse Aviation delivered three planes over the weekend to air taxi firm DayJet, bringing the total out the door to five.
The aircraft will be used to train DayJet pilots in Albuquerque, then begin the Florida startup's "per-seat, on-demand" commercial passenger service later this year.
DayJet, Eclipse's largest commercial customer, has ordered 239 Eclipse 500 jets, and has options on 70 more aircraft, all of which are slated for delivery over the next two years.
DayJet plans to offer pointto-point air taxi services to regional communities, offering the convenience of a charter jet at prices comparable to commercial passenger service.
DayJet president and CEO Ed Iacobucci has said his company will use advanced technology to maximize use of the jets by moving them around the country to meet demand.
"Today is a major milestone for DayJet as we begin to take delivery of our Eclipse 500 jets," Iacobucci said in a news release. "Like many innovations in history, there is a confluence of hardware and software advances that, together, promise radical changes and benefits to thousands of regional business travelers."
DayJet's aircraft will cost $950,000 each, which was the price of the plane when the deal was inked in 2002. The price has climbed to $1.5 million, still at least half that of comparable small jets.
DayJet plans to operate its planes with two pilots, leaving room for four passengers.
Eclipse founder and CEO Vern Raburn, who cites the nascent air taxi industry as a key market, said the potential to serve underutilized and underserved markets would be critical to the health and growth of those communities.
"We are proud to be playing a role in expanding the future of air transportation by delivering the Eclipse 500, the first of a new generation of (very light jets) that can quickly move people from point to point across our nation," he said in a statement.
DayJet was to have begun operations in mid-2006.
Eclipse received Federal Aviation Administration type certification for the Eclipse 500 last year but has since wrestled with delays caused both by suppliers and internal challenges.
DayJet's three twinengine, 6-seat jets still need pilot display instrument updates before they can be used for commercial passenger service.
Eclipse spokesman Andrew Broom said those are on schedule for completion by the second quarter of this year, when DayJet plans to begin operations.
Broom said the company plans to deliver 400 jets this year. Eclipse eventually plans to build up to 1,000 planes annually. The company now employs more than 1,100.
Though multiple aircraft are under construction or essentially completed, Eclipse's current FAA status requires the federal agency sign off on the airworthiness of each individual aircraft before it is delivered.
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