Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Owners’ Analysis: Eclipse, Mustang & Phenom

What better method is there of analyzing the current field of light jets than asking owners?

Feingold isn't new to the joys, rewards and challenges of aviation. He has been flying for some 35 years and made a living as a professional pilot when he was a young man. "Aviation was an exciting occupation, but it didn't take long before I realized it would be difficult to make a decent living as a pilot," Feingold explains. "I worked in a number of capacities, including flight instructing, but eventually, I decided to branch out into other fields."

Today, Feingold is the retired CEO of System Dynamics Incorporated, a turnkey system integrator for precision manufacturing and measurement using laser sensors. The CEO's new job in semi-retirement is enjoying his Eclipse.

Feingold has owned a number of airplanes working up to a jet, a Bonanza and two Cirrus SR22s, a normally aspirated and a turbocharged version, and he says there were several similarities between all of the aircraft. "The common ingredient in all my aircraft has been passion. It was obvious to me that the folks at Cirrus had a great passion for their products, and when you buy a Cirrus, you're buying into that dedication. Similarly, Mason Holland and his team at Eclipse are building an airplane with the same kind of passion."

According to Feingold, the Total Eclipse is a nearly ideal airplane for his purely personal missions. "The airplane provides us with an easy three hours of endurance, so 1,000 miles between pit stops is no problem. We've removed the aft two seats to make more room for luggage," Feingold comments, "and that allows us to carry pretty much anything we wish on our trips."

The CEO reports the Eclipse does almost exactly what the book says it will. "The 500 will get off and up at an easy 2,000 fpm and will manage 40,000 feet in about 40 minutes at our typical weights. I fly in the high 30s most of the time, which provides a good compromise between speed and fuel burn, and that usually yields an easy 350 knots. The pressurization system is ideal for us. At 41,000 feet, the 8.3 psi differential allows a cabin altitude of 8,000 feet. If we're operating down at 30,000, we can practically pressure the cabin to the ground. That helps minimize fatigue, so you hardly know you've been flying six miles high."

Feingold, a former vice president of the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association, feels the Eclipse is the perfect airplane for his missions, though the 500 itself isn't perfect. "The lack of anti-lock brakes can be a little exasperating, but Eclipse is working on that, and we rarely have occasion to fly into short fields, so it's not a major problem for us. I have 140 hours in the 500, and I've never seen any significant handling problems on the ground or in the sky.

"Synthetic Vision would be nice, and that will be available on the 550, but again, it's not a major disadvantage for us.

"Our hope is that Eclipse CEO Mason Holland can make a go of the Eclipse program in this economy," Feingold says. "It will be a challenge, but if anyone can do it, he can. He has passion."


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