Eclipse Aviation filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. bankruptcy court in Delaware on November 25, leaving creditors holding $702.6 million in claims. The move closely followed two major achievements in the company’s history, EASA certification of the Eclipse 500 very light jet and FAA certification of the Avio NG 1.5 avionics system.
A group of Eclipse 500 owners and position holders for the Eclipse 400 and 500 this week formed an ad hoc customer committee to represent their interests during the Eclipse Aviation Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. David Green, also the president of the Eclipse 500 Owners Club, was selected to be the group’s chairman.
When it issued Eclipse 500 Airworthiness Directive 2008-24-07, which becomes effective today, the FAA asked for comments from operators. The AD limits the Eclipse 500 to a maximum pressure altitude of 37,000 feet due to “several incidents of engine surge” of the jet’s Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F-A engines. The surge is due to carbon buildup on the static vane during high bleed flow conditions.
Just one day after filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy last Tuesday, a group of investors, including European distributor Etirc Aviation, received court approval to provide interim financing to keep the very light jet manufacturer open and its 954 employees working. The financing is intended to ensure Eclipse Aviation is a viable entity when its assets go up for public auction next month.
Per-seat, on-demand very light jet (VLJ) air-taxi firm DayJet on November 14 filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy (liquidation), just four days after company founder Ed Iacobucci expressed doubt at a VLJ air-taxi conference (see page 40) that the Boca Raton, Fla.-based charter operator would be resurrected.
Eclipse Aviation founder and former CEO Vern Raburn spoke candidly at last month’s Aviation Week VLJ forum, held November 11 and 12 in West Palm Beach, Fla., about the aviation industry, his departure from Eclipse and his future plans. The following is a transcript of his statements, with minimal editing.
The VLJ era started with a bang on March 6, 2000, when Eclipse Aviation announced the formal launch of the Eclipse 500, a program “designed to apply technological breakthroughs in creating a series of safe, reliable, low-cost jet aircraft that will enable transformation of the U.S. air transportation system.”
Eclipse Aviation has altered the office hours for customers to speak with customer care, technical services and maintenance scheduling representatives from 24/7 to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The new hours took effect on November 24.
Albuquerque, N.M.-based Eclipse Aviation on November 21 received European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) type certification for the Eclipse 500. The approval is for private flights only, the EASA clarified, and Eclipse expects to receive EU-OPS 1 certification for commercial operations next year. The certification is valid for VFR and IFR operations, including RVSM and flight into known icing.
Despite intensified speculation about an impending collapse, Eclipse Aviation remained in business as this issue went to press, with company leaders still seeking new sources of funding and anticipating the long-awaited FAA certification of the Garmin 400W navigator upgrade and European Aviation Safety Agency certification of the airplane.