November 20, 2008
Eclipse Aircraft paid employees this week after failing to meet its payroll obligations on Nov. 13, and very light jet production is continuing at the company's Albuquerque plant.
A short release from Eclipse said that employees were “given the choice to continue working or go home” while the issue was being addressed, but no one was laid off.
Eclipse has publicly stated that it needs up to $300 million in new capital to continue production, and company officials said they hoped to have the cash infusion before the end of the year. In the Nov. 14 statement, Eclipse said that the board of directors and executive management team was still working on a “long-term financial solution.”
Widely published forecasts have predicted that Eclipse would be forced to seek bankruptcy court protection in next year’s first quarter.
The company also faces a growing number of lawsuits from disgruntled customers seeking deposit refunds. The company sharply raised prices on its EA500 jets earlier this year and offered to refund some deposits. A New Mexico TV station has reported at least 10 customers are suing Eclipse for refunds they claim they are owed.
Eclipse has produced more than 200 twin-engine EA500 jets and had announced plans to certify and deliver V-tailed, single-engine Eclipse 400s. But the company’s original business plan depended on being able to produce large numbers of aircraft at drastically lower unit costs. Eclipse never came close to meeting its ambitious production goals, however, and the air taxi firms that were expected to become Eclipse’s main customers never fully materialized.
Eclipse ousted founder and CEO Vern Raburn in August.
Connecticut lawmakers have voted to recognize Gustave Whitehead as the first pilot to achieve powered flight. The bill awaits the governor’s signature, and marks the latest round in a newly revived debate.
Waco Classic Aircraft Corp. officially unveiled the first conforming new production Great Lakes 2T-1A-2, an aerobatic biplane.
Brazil’s brand-new Wega arrived in the United States in April. The Wega is an all-composite, Experimental-category airplane built in the Santa Catarina district in Brazil.