Second Round of Layoffs Hit One Aviation Amid EA700 Focus

 - October 20, 2017, 7:58 PM
One Aviation remains committed to bringing its Eclipse 700 to production. (Photo: One Aviation)

Albuquerque, New Mexico-based One Aviation laid off an unspecified number of workers this week, a move the company attributed to the end of production of the Eclipse 550 very light jet as it looks toward building the larger Eclipse 700 (also known as "Project Canada").

“We obviously made some difficult decisions that affect production of the EA550 in favor of focusing on service, and bringing the EA700 to production,” company CEO Alan Klapmeier told AIN.

One of those laid off Thursday reported ongoing difficulties in obtaining necessary parts to maintain and repair Eclipse aircraft. The former Albuquerque service center A&P also stated the company initially failed to meet its payroll last week, although hard checks were cut within 24 hours after direct deposits didn't go through.

Company officials confirmed those reports, and Klapmeier acknowledged issues with a reliable flow of parts. "We've said for a long time we're looking for financing to ramp up the Canada project, and while that's been slow we're continuing to make progress there," he said, adding that other delays have stemmed from supplied parts not meeting production standards.

Thursday's layoffs followed a series of discouraging announcements for the company, with reports that One Aviation partner Kestrel Aircraft was recently evicted from its Brunswick, Maine headquarters over failure to pay back rent. Additionally, on October 13 Wisconsin's Superior Telegram reported officials with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. intend to proceed with legal action related to unrepaid economic development loans provided to Kestrel in 2012 to build a production facility in Superior for the K350 turboprop and hire more than 600 workers, neither of which has come to fruition.

This was the second round of layoffs this year for the company. All Eclipse service centers remain open, Klapmeier added, and while “the Kestrel hasn’t gone away yet,” he emphasized that One Aviation’s focus is on the Eclipse side of the operation.

“My preference would have been to retain production capacity because there are more EA550s we could build, but our conclusion [with the layoffs] was first to take care of the current customers,” Klapmeier concluded. “Secondly, we must have a future. There is no happy ending for us without the EA700."