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.
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.
An attempt by a group of buyers to make a low-ball bid for the former DayJet Eclipse 500 fleet appears to have run into a snag: Eclipse Aviation isn’t about to let those airplanes go cheap. The group, formed by Houston-based Eclipse 500 management company JetsAmerica and its president, Brandon Carlson, wants to offer $500,000 each for the 28 Eclipses that used to be operated by air-taxi firm 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.
With Eclipse founder Vern Raburn out of the picture, the task of putting the troubled VLJ manufacturer on the path to profitability rests on the shoulders of the company’s new chairman and CEO, Roel Pieper.
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.
Despite the recent announcement that the Russian government would build the company a new factory in Ulyanovsk, embattled VLJ maker Eclipse Aviation (Booth No. 250) is continuing its search for operating capital, perhaps as much as $200 million. Meanwhile, the company has slowed its production rate, launched a major company-wide reorganization, laid off 40 percent of its workforce, and continues to conserve cash.
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.