As expected a company has stepped forward to buy all assets of the bankrupt Eclipse Aviation, now in Chapter 7 proceedings, and return the company to production. Phil Friedman, CEO of Harlow Aerostructures in Wichita, Kan., plans to bid when Eclipse assets are offered through the yet-to-be-appointed company trustee.
There are three to five companies, including Linear Air, that hope to buy parts and intellectual property rights to perform maintenance for the approximately 260 Eclipse jets now in the fleet. Friedman noted he is offering to buy the entire assets, not just maintenance rights, and has assembled much of the funding needed for the bid.
The new venture is to be called New Eclipse Acquisition. Friedman said he has the support of many in the industry. Harlow Aerostructures manufactures structural assemblies for many aircraft manufacturers.
Peter Reed, former CFO of Eclipse for seven years, is part of Friedman’s team and has participated in developing the New Eclipse business plan over the past several months. Reed left Eclipse in 2006 after disagreements with senior management. He had been with the firm since its inception, and a friend of his came up with the “Eclipse” name for the company.
“I have been studying the Eclipse situation for over a year,” said Friedman. “It is sad that the company has ended up in bankruptcy, but I believe there is an excellent business opportunity going forward if managed correctly. Our plan is to take the first 24 months to stabilize the fleet of 259 aircraft and restore the brand. All aircraft will be brought up to the current type certification level so that ongoing service and support is as efficient as possible. We will also retain a significant number of engineers to improve aircraft reliability, upgrade the avionics suite, and focus on reducing manufacturing costs to industry benchmark levels. We will open several smaller service centers around the country to provide more convenient access to service the fleet and will also provide pilot training here in Albuquerque.
“We certainly recognize that bringing Eclipse out of bankruptcy will be challenging. There are many parties that have been badly hurt, and bridges will have to be rebuilt and relationships restored to execute on our plan.” Friedman continued, “We understand that the employees who have been laid off need to feed their families and pay their mortgages.We are actively exploring ways to hold the key talent together during the Chapter 7 process so we can re-employ them with the new company.”