The Eclipse Aviation 500 is a small six-seat business jet aircraft that was manufactured by Eclipse Aviation.
The Eclipse 500 became the first of a new class of Very Light Jets (VLJ) when the first jet was delivered in late 2006. The aircraft is powered by two lightweight Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F turbofan engines in aft fuselage-mounted nacelles.
Production of the Eclipse 500 was halted in mid-2008 due to lack of funding and the company entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy on 25 November 2008. The assets of the company were intended to be sold to EclipseJet Aviation International for USD$28 million by court order on 23 January 2009, but that company could not complete the sale due to lack of funds and the company was forced into Chapter 7 liquidation on 24 February 2009. In the final Chapter 7 procedure, completed on 4 September 2009, there was only one bidder, Eclipse Aerospace, a new company formed to acquire the assets for USD$20 million in cash and an additional USD$20 million in notes.
The Eclipse 500 is based on the Williams V-Jet II, which was designed and built by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites in 1997 for Williams International. It was intended to be used as a testbed and demonstrator for their new FJX-2 turbofan engine. The aircraft and engine debuted at the 1997 Oshkosh Airshow.
The V-Jet II had an all-composite structure with a forward-swept wing, a V-tail, each fin of which was mounted on the nacelle of one of the two engines. Williams had not intended to produce the aircraft, but it attracted a lot of attention, and Eclipse Aviation was founded in 1998 to further develop and produce the aircraft.
The prototype and only V-Jet II aircraft was obtained by Eclipse Aviation along with the program, and was donated to the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 2001.