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.
On October 21, Eclipse Aviation formally placed defunct charter operator DayJet’s 28 Eclipse 500s on the used airplane market. According to the manufacturer, the airplanes will be sold in “as is” condition.
London, Ontario-based OurPlane–a fractional provider of “new light aircraft”–made a bid to purchase the entire fleet of 28 Eclipse 500s formerly operated by DayJet. OurPlane said it submitted a “fair offer reflecting the current market value for the Eclipse jets.” Company president and CEO Graham Casson told AIN that the bid is more than JetsAmerica’s previous offer of $500,000 each but less than $1.5 million apiece.
London, Ontario-based OurPlane–a fractional provider of “new light aircraft,” including Cirrus SR22 piston singles and one Eclipse 500–today made a bid to purchase the entire fleet of 28 Eclipse 500s formerly operated by DayJet.
Starting next year, Eclipse Aviation plans to ramp up production of the Eclipse 500 back to a rate of about one airplane per day, chairman and CEO Roel Pieper told AIN. Eclipse has enough cash on hand to move forward with the new production plans, according to Pieper, thanks in part to a recent financial infusion from the company’s agreement to build a factory in Russia.
Since taking the helm at Eclipse Aviation on July 28, chairman, CEO and investor Roel Pieper has worked to turn the manufacturer from a development company into one that can profitably produce the Eclipse 500 very light jet. “Eclipse has to be a profitable business,” Pieper told NBAA Convention News yesterday.
A group of buyers formed by Houston-based JetsAmerica is offering to purchase former DayJet Eclipse 500s from lienholder United Technologies Finance. As of yesterday, JetsAmerica had commitments from buyers for 13 of the very light jets, and company president Brandon Carlson said he hoped to increase that number to 20 before submitting an offer to UT Finance. “We’re offering only half a million apiece; they aren’t worth much more,” he said.
A little more than two years have passed since the Eclipse 500 very light jet received FAA certification, and since then manufacturer Eclipse Aviation (Booth No. 250) has climbed the dizzying heights of volume business jet production and faced the challenge of insufficient funding to carry out its mission to build thousands of new VLJs.