As the liquidation process for the assets of bankrupt Eclipse Aviation drags on, four groups have announced proposals to buy those assets and restart product support and in some cases production for the orphaned Eclipse 500 very light jet. There may be Chinese interest in bidding on the Eclipse assets, too.
On February 18, Eclipse Aviation’s board of directors elected to furlough most of the remaining 800 employees to conserve cash and allow more time to complete the bankruptcy court-approved sale of Eclipse Aviation to EclipseJet International. The latter is an affiliate of Eclipse Aviation CEO Roel Pieper’s company Etirc Aviation, which is Eclipse’s largest shareholder. The bankruptcy judge approved the Chapter 11 sale
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.
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.
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.
Overshadowed by far larger jets in the static display, the Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ) is being shown for the first time at the MEBA show, courtesy of Dubai-based Palm Aviation and MyJet Turkey. The entry-level jet will be staying here in Dubai to make flight demonstrations after the three-day event.
Eclipse Aviation founder and former CEO Vern Raburn stole the show at a VLJ forum held Tuesday and yesterday in West Palm Beach, Fla., with his day-one closing comments, in which he spoke candidly about the aviation industry and Eclipse Aviation. “This is an industry that eats its young,” he said. “It’s fraught with people whose comment to anything new is, ‘It can’t be done.
Albuquerque, N.M.-based Eclipse Aviation yesterday confirmed that it scrubbed its planned attendance at AOPA Expo this week in San Jose, Calif., as it seeks to cut costs during its continuing search for financing. “We had to make the difficult decision to cancel our attendance at AOPA as part of our efforts to conserve cash,” a company spokeswoman told AIN via e-mail.
Two industry analysts now predict Eclipse Aviation will run out of cash and cease production of the Eclipse 500 very light jet early next year. Connecticut-based Forecast International on Tuesday said it believed Eclipse would not be able to attract the new investment necessary to allow continued aircraft production beyond the first quarter of next year.