Eclipse auctions first very light jet

 - August 30, 2007, 5:41 AM

Albuquerque-based very light jet maker Eclipse Aviation delivered on a plan devised seven years ago when the company put one of its early production aircraft on the auction block last month.

Eclipse made S/N 038 the first to be earmarked for sale to the highest bidder. The auction, held July 30 to August 10, was open only to members of the company’s Bidders’ Club, which was set up in 2000 for potential customers who placed a $5,000 refundable deposit for the chance to bid on immediate-delivery Eclipse 500s. People who made deposits have been accruing “Eclipse Dollars”– to be deducted from the amount of their winning bid–at the rate of $1,000 per month.

Eclipse initially said it would auction off 40 Eclipse 500s out of its first 200 produced, but a spokesman declined to say whether that number has been reduced, or when the next would be put on the auction block.

While the offering price considered for the Eclipse 500 was $775,000 at the time the company proposed the auction, low serial numbers have been changing hands for more than $1.6 million, and a niche market has developed among brokers. Given that, bidders could hardly have been expecting a bargain. Bidding for S/N 038 began at $1,633,945.47 (95 percent of the aircraft’s current invoice price plus optional equipment). For the final selling price of $1,833,945, the winning bidder gets an Eclipse 500 LX edition including Part 135 package, copilot package, SkyWatch HP, class-B TAWS, radar altimeter and taxi/recognition lights. Also included is participation for one person in Eclipse’s type rating pilot training.