September 8, 2009
By Alton K. Marsh
Eclipse Aerospace will refurbish 26 Eclipse 500 jets returned to the former Eclipse Aviation by DayJet, the bankrupt Florida air taxi company. In addition, upgrades for flight into known icing conditions have begun for aircraft already in the hands of owners.
When Eclipse 500 owners Mason Holland and Mike Press purchased Eclipse Aviation from the Delaware federal bankruptcy court, they also acquired the former DayJet fleet. The former Eclipse firm had tried unsuccessfully to sell the aircraft.
Work will begin soon on the DayJet Eclipse 500s. In the meantime, owners have returned their aircraft to the Chicago service center to be equipped for flight into known icing. Two have been completed, and three are in progress. The jets were refurbished at Chicago Executive Airport, formerly Palwaukee Airport, at North American Jet Maintenance. North American Jet Maintenance and Brigadoon Aircraft Maintenance are co-located in the same building at the airport, and were both purchased earlier this summer by Eclipse Aerospace. Both were owned by Ken Ross who is now the president of the Eclipse Service Network. Ross will move to Albuquerque to oversee service centers and parts distribution worldwide.
The new Eclipse Aerospace owners must first set up parts supplies and repair the few Eclipse jets that were grounded for lack of parts during the Eclipse Aviation bankruptcy proceedings. The company will ramp up parts distribution and service as a first priority and does not expect to consider resuming manufacturing of the Eclipse 500 for six to 18 months. The company also plans to buy back and refurbish Eclipse jets from owners wanting to sell their aircraft.
Of the 259 jets in the Eclipse fleet, only two now have all the systems promised by the factory. They were upgraded after delivery. None of the DayJet aircraft had all the promised systems at the time of delivery. By this winter, Ross said, more than 20 percent of the Eclipse fleet will be equipped for flight into known icing. In the cockpit, 70 aircraft in the fleet need to be upgraded from the Avidyne system to the promised Avio 1.5 system.
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