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Tue, Oct 07, 2003

Eclipse and Fuji Heavy Industries Form Strategic Partnership

Fuji Heavy Industries To Build Wings for Eclipse 500 and License Use of Friction Stir Welding   

Eclipse Aviation Corporation, manufacturer of the Eclipse 500 jet, and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), comprehensive transportation manufacturer in Japan, today announced a strategic partnership where FHI will manufacture the complete wing assembly for the revolutionary Eclipse 500. In addition, as part of a long-term agreement, Eclipse has agreed to license its friction stir welding process to FHI for use in the Eclipse 500 wing assemblies as well as other potential applications within FHI's manufacturing operations.

Fuji Heavy Industries is a global manufacturer of transportation and aerospace related products and the maker of SUBARU automobiles. It manufactures the center-wing section of the Boeing 777 and was recently contracted to build components for the Airbus A380.

"Fuji Heavy Industries is proud to form a strategic partnership with Eclipse Aviation, the leader in the burgeoning light jet market. Market acceptance of the Eclipse 500 has been very strong and we look forward to providing the wing assemblies for the aircraft," said Norihisa Matsuo, FHI corporate senior vice president and president of FHI Aerospace Company.

"Eclipse's pioneering work in friction stir welding is very impressive, and by adding their unique and advanced technology, we can expand our friction stir welding capability. FHI expects to apply this process both in manufacture of the Eclipse 500 wing as well in other strategic areas of our business."

Friction stir welding is highly automated and significantly faster than other structural joining processes. It enables a drastic reduction in aircraft assembly time and eliminates the need for thousands of rivets, resulting in reduced assembly costs, better quality joining and stronger, lighter joints. There are currently 5,300 inches of weld for each Eclipse 500, replacing more than 60 percent of the rivets on major assemblies including the cabin, aft fuselage and wings. Eclipse has pioneered the use of friction stir welding in high-volume production of thin-gauge aluminum and is the first to use the process to build primary aircraft structures.

"The relationship with Fuji Heavy Industries marks an important milestone in our program as we not only partner with an aerospace leader to manufacture a major sub-assembly for the Eclipse 500, but also gain significant validation for the friction stir welding process we pioneered," said Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse Aviation. "I am pleased that Fuji Heavy Industries has recognized the value of this next-generation joining process and is embracing it across its business."

Some SERIOUS Horsepower Between These Two...

The origin of Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru) is back in Nakajima Aircraft Laboratory founded in 1917. Its Aerospace Company has been a major prime aircraft-manufacturer, designing and producing trainers, including the first jet trainer in Japan, helicopters and UAV's. It announced in August the success of demonstrating an automatic take-off/landing system, which can be applied to small aircraft. It also has been deeply involved in the manufacture of Boeing aircraft since 1973, including the 767 and most notably the 777. In a first for foreign partners, FHI is responsible for the vital center-wing section connecting the main wings and the fuselage. FHI joined with Boeing at the design stage to address joint development and manufacture of this important assembly. FHI also produces a number of other Boeing products. FHI has earned the honor of Boeing's 2002 "Supplier of the Year" award ahead of 11,300 other suppliers around the world for its overall support to Boeing programs.

Eclipse Aviation, of course, is in the business of designing, certifying and producing modern, affordable jet aircraft that will revolutionize the transportation market. The company is applying advanced electronics systems, manufacturing and business practices to produce aircraft that cost about a quarter of today's small jet aircraft, will be significantly safer and easier to operate than those of today, and have the lowest cost of ownership ever achieved in a jet aircraft. The goal of Eclipse is to bring the word "personal" into aviation, making it possible for commercial air passengers to move directly between cities on a quick, affordable and convenient basis. It will also allow pilot owners to enter the world of jet-powered aviation.

FMI: www.eclipseaviation.com, www.fhi.co.jp/english/index.html

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