While most business jet manufacturers rarely announce how many airplanes they have built before providing quarterly shipment numbers to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Eclipse Aviation announced last month that it had delivered 45 aircraft in the first quarter. (“Delivered” airplanes have a bill of sale, the buyer has paid and signed the acceptance papers.)
In an early April letter to customers, Eclipse president and CEO Vern Raburn said that the company built 55 Eclipse 500s in the first quarter of this year, “fifty-four percent of last year’s production in twenty-five percent of the time.”
According to one business jet broker, as of early last month there were 24 Eclipse 500s for sale. Nine of those were already delivered jets and the rest were 2008 delivery positions. Prices for those that had asking prices ranged from the lowest at $1.45 million to a high of $1.928 million. Three of the 24 were offered for buyers interested in shares of Eclipse 500s instead of the entire airplane.
J.P. Hanley’s Corporate Airsearch International of Palm Beach, Fla., is offering S/N 281 for $1.8 million for delivery in the third quarter. Hanley was involved in the recent sale of S/N 125, which he said sold for $1.81 million. Those available for delivery soon are selling much better, he said. “Buyers don’t want to wait.” The Eclipse 500 is priced at $1.595 million in 2006 dollars. New Eclipses available in the short term are selling for a premium of $150,000 to $200,000, he said.
Broker Anthony Linder of Stratford, Conn.-based JetSmart usually sells light jets through large jets but offered to do a friend a favor by marketing an Eclipse 500 position for delivery in October next year. The asking price is $1.72 million. Linder isn’t convinced the VLJ market is going to take off because he doesn’t see owners willing to buy anything smaller than a Learjet 31 or 35. “That’s the smallest they want to go,” he said. The VLJ market, he said, “doesn’t really reflect on my market. There’s still another five years before it gains any critical mass.” In the first three weeks that he had the Eclipse position on the market, Linder received no calls from interested buyers.
In the April letter to customers, Raburn said that the schedule for upgrading in-service Eclipse 500s would be published by June 1. The upgrades include the final configuration for the Avio NG avionics system with dual Garmin GPS 400W navigators.
Raburn also announced a new commercial operations package with equipment charter operators need. The $29,995, 17.3-pound package includes a third independent AHRS, 40-cu-ft oxygen tank, copilot quick-don oxygen mask, second handheld microphone, three AC power outlets and passenger briefing cards.
Bryan Comstock of JetEffect contributed to this article.