The corner office at Eclipse Aviation’s Albuquerque, N.M., headquarters has gone strangely quiet. After years of missed deadlines, and facing rising pressure from customers, government regulators and investors, the company retreated to the tall grass last month as executives pondered how to reboot the ailing very light jet maker.
As part of its “operational excellence strategy” to finish incomplete customer-delivered airplanes, improve production efficiency, fulfill overdue payments to suppliers, repay deposit holders who have canceled orders and achieve financial stability, Eclipse Aviation CEO Roel Pieper has reorganized the company into two new divisions.
Eclipse Aviation has selected Vancouver-based Harbour Air to be the first Eclipse 500 authorized service center in North America. Harbour Air will provide MRO service for the aircraft in western Canada. The deal leaves open the opportunity for the company to expand into eastern Canada and Alaska. Harbour Air will also provide service to the Northwest U.S. until Eclipse establishes a service center network in the U.S.
Eclipse Aviation supplier Albany International revealed on August 19 that Eclipse “has indicated that it was substantially reducing production of the Eclipse 500 jet, and planned purchase of components from [Albany Engineered Composites] and other suppliers, for the remainder of 2008 and the first half of 2009.” Although Eclipse Aviation declined to comment about this information, Albany International added, “Based on information provided to d
With a strong vested interest in a revitalized Eclipse Aviation, Eclipse 500 suppliers are walking on eggshells when discussing planned production curbs of the very light jet through mid-2009, but their underlying message is clear: the slowdown will affect their businesses. The subject is so touchy for Eclipse 500 avionics display provider IS&S that it wouldn’t even refer to Eclipse Aviation by name.
Very light jet manufacturer Eclipse Aviation late last week announced to employees and customers that the executive management team is working on “a plan to profitability by the end of the month.” And, the communiqué added, “Eclipse will not be releasing any further information or conducting interviews surrounding this media alert at this time.” While Eclipse isn’t talking, its suppliers are.
Pratt & Whitney Canada, manufacturer of the PW610F engine that powers the Eclipse 500 very light jet, and Eclipse Aviation are jointly investigating the cause of a carbon buildup that resulted in an in-flight engine shutdown earlier this month.
When VLJ manufacturer Eclipse Aviation announced early last week that it had received “first funds in a new round of financing” that hinged on the resignation of founder Vern Raburn, observers generally took that to mean that new money was flowing into the company.
Chichester-Miles Consultants of Hertfordshire, England, “is financially in balance,” said founder and chairman Ian Chichester-Miles. He also said he has “made some advance in obtaining financing” to develop the Williams FJ33-powered Leopard Six, but is bound by a confidentiality agreement about this financing until, possibly, the end of this year.
What a difference a year makes. At last year’s EAA AirVenture, Eclipse Aviation founder, president and CEO Vern Raburn made a dramatic entrance to the show aboard the Eclipse Concept Jet. At this year’s show, however, Raburn made a surprise exit, announcing yesterday that he was stepping down from the very light jet manufacturer.