Just five months after celebrating the delivery of its first new-build Eclipse 550 light jet, Eclipse Aerospace laid off a “substantial” number of employees at its Albuquerque, N.M. headquarters and facilities in Chicago and Charleston, S.C., citing slow sales for its very light jet.
For the first time in more than four years, new aircraft have emerged from the former Eclipse Aviation final-assembly facility in Albuquerque, N.M. Two unfinished airframes left on the assembly line when that company declared bankruptcy in November 2008 were recently completed by the resurrected company, Eclipse Aerospace, and outfitted as factory-new Total Eclipse twinjets.
This formation of 27 Eclipse light jets was part of a larger group that descended on Branson Airport in Missouri for the Eclipse Owners Club Fall Fly-In last month. Forty-three of the twinjets met up in what was one of the largest gatherings of the same model private jet ever to land on a field at one time. Eclipse Aviation built 261 of the EA500s before it went bankrupt in 2008. Eclipse Aerospace, which acquired the company’s assets, announced it has restarted production with deliveries of the updated Eclipse 550 expected next year.
It’s been a bit more than three years since Eclipse Aerospace was awarded the assets of bankrupt Eclipse Aviation in August 2009, not quite enough time, perhaps, to fully separate conversations about the former from the mixed record of its predecessor, but Mason Holland, CEO of Eclipse Aerospace, told AIN the company is weary of “Phoenix rising from the ashes” stories and declared it has made considerable progress updating a
Despite a halt in production of nearly four years and the bankruptcy of its original developer, the fleet of Eclipse very light jets could soon grow again after Eclipse Aerospace was awarded a production certificate from the FAA.
The trajectory for single-engine very light jets is up and to the right. List prices for what were initially envisioned as $1 million pocket rockets are now bumping up against, and in some cases through, $2 million–and likely to go higher.
I’ve been waiting quite some time to fly the Eclipse, a dozen years in fact, since the then revolutionary very light jet (VLJ) was first announced in 1998. The term very light jet–originally coined to describe the Eclipse specifically–came to be applied to a number of small jets, although a precise definition seemed to depend upon an aircraft manufacturer’s marketing department at any given time.
EAA AirVenture, as usual, brought the aviation family together for another week of celebration, innovation and pure enjoyment at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis.
Eclipse Aerospace (Booth No. 1235) and Spanish charter operator Jet Ready will launch the first European air-taxi service using the Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ) here at EBACE tomorrow.
The prognosticators may claim that the very light jet era is over, but the investors who paid $40 million (half in cash up front) for the assets of bankrupt Eclipse Aviation think otherwise.
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