Eclipse Walks Away From Albany Service Center

 - September 9, 2009, 10:21 AM

Eclipse Aerospace, the reincarnation of defunct Eclipse Aviation, has vacated its $8 million factory service center and told Albany County Airport Authority officials not to expect it to return. Doug Myers, director of public affairs for the Authority, told AIN that five years ago the airport authority began an economic development initiative to attract new businesses and jobs to the Albany, N.Y. airport. It offered hangar leases, remodeling of existing space or building new space for a maintenance facility.  

According to Myers, in March 2004 John O’Donnell, CEO of the airport authority, contacted Vern Raburn, CEO of Eclipse Aviation, to discuss the airport’s new economic development program. Eclipse had several other sites on its list; the company selected the location after Empire State Development provided a grant for $100,000 to reduce the cost of machinery and equipment used in the new center. Additionally, Senator Joseph Bruno secured a grant for $1.5 million to the authority to reduce the expense to construct the hangar. 

The airport authority incorporated the incentives into a complete financing and lease package and presented them to Eclipse in July 2005. The deal went forward and construction on the 42,800-sq-ft facility began in the spring of 2006. It was completed and opened in March 2008 with a total cost of $8 million. The facility includes a 30,000-sq-ft hangar, a 7,416-sq-ft maintenance facility, 5,384 sq ft of office space and a sophisticated fire protection foam system capable of filling the facility in three to five minutes.

Eclipse Aviation filed for Chapter 11 reorganization last November and unsuccessfully tried to put together sufficient financing to sustain the company. A subsequent bid in bankruptcy court also fell through. When Eclipse Aviation  filed for bankruptcy, shut down the facility and laid off its two dozen employees, it began paying the airport authority $13,375 a month, 50 percent of the actual monthly rental fee, in the hope it could return from bankruptcy. By doing so, it prevented the Albany County Airport Authority from looking for new tenants for the building.

The bankrupt Eclipse still owes the airport $167,555 in back rent and utilities, and now that the payments have stopped the airport authority is marketing the facility. “We still have $7 million in outstanding bonds on the building to be paid,” Myers said. A spokesman for Eclipse Aerospace declined to be interviewed and said, “We have no comment at this time.”