Eclipse Aviation

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Eclipse Aviation Corporation
Former type Private
Industry Aerospace
Fate Chapter 7 bankruptcy
Successors Eclipse Aerospace
Founded 1998
Defunct 2009
Headquarters Albuquerque, New Mexico, US
Key people Vern Raburn, CEO
Roel Pieper, CEO[1]
Products Eclipse 500 - production halted November 2008[2]
Eclipse 400 - development ceased October 2008[3]
Employees 850 (February 2009)[4]
Website www.eclipseaviation.com (archives)
The Eclipse factory in Albuquerque. New Mexico
Eclipse 500 flight test aircraft at Mojave

Eclipse Aviation Corporation was the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based manufacturer of the Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ) and also at one time proposed developing the Eclipse 400 single-engined jet.

The company was founded in 1998 by former Microsoft employee Vern Raburn. Due to Raburn's relationship with Microsoft, Bill Gates was a major stake-holder in the Eclipse project.[5][6][7]

Production of the Eclipse 500 was halted in mid-2008 due to lack of funding. The company entered an unsuccessful Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2008, which was converted into a Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation procedure in February 2009. In the final Chapter 7 procedure, completed on August 20, 2009, there was only one bidder, a new company formed to acquire the assets, Eclipse Aerospace.[2][8][9][10][11][12][13]

Eclipse operated service centers at Albuquerque, Gainesville Regional Airport, Florida and at Albany International Airport, New York.[14]

History[edit]

Startup and growth[edit]

Eclipse Aviation was founded by Vern Raburn in 1998 in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the company started to design the twin-engined Eclipse 500 very light jet. Due to investments by the State of New Mexico and incentives and concessions from the City of Albuquerque, the company decided to set up its production facilities there and moved its headquarters in 2000.[5] Construction of the first prototype started in 2001 and it first flew on August 26, 2002. Originally powered by two Williams International EJ22 turbofans these were found to be unsuitable and the aircraft was redesigned to accommodate a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F-A turbofans. The engine change caused a delay in the programme and the PW610F-equipped prototype first flew in 2004. The aircraft was FAA certified on July 27, 2006 and the first customer aircraft was delivered in January 2007. European Aviation Safety Agency certification for private use was achieved on November 21, 2008.[5][15][16][17]

In February 2006 the company was named the winner of the Collier Trophy for 2005 by the National Aeronautic Association for its work with the Eclipse 500.[15] The award was controversial because only the prototype aircraft was flying.[15][16][18]

On July 23, 2007, at AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Eclipse unveiled the already flying prototype of a second company design initially called the Eclipse Concept Jet. The four-seat aircraft was powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F turbofan and was built in secrecy at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia by Swift Engineering and BaySys Technologies.[19] The ECJ had first flown on July 2, 2007 and the company said then did not intend to place the aircraft into production but by May 2008 it began to take orders for a production version designated the Eclipse 400.[20][21]

In October 2007 the company laid off between 100 and 150 contract workers and employees, about 10% of its workforce.[22] In November 2007 subcontractor Hampson Aerospace, which built the tail assembly for the Eclipse 500, filed a suit against Eclipse alleging that Eclipse had not paid them for work completed.[23][24]

During 2007 Eclipse had produced 104 aircraft and claimed a record for building its "first 100 airplanes faster than any GA jet aircraft manufacturer in history." [25]

Financial challenges and decline[edit]

Founding president and CEO Vern Raburn resigned as a condition of a financing package by European Technology and Investment Research Center (ETIRC) Aviation, which had invested more than US$100 million in Eclipse in 2008. Raburn announced his resignation at AirVenture on Monday July 28, 2008.[1] The new CEO, Roel Pieper, the chairman of the board of directors and president of ETIRC,[1][26] said that the company should be profitable by the first quarter of 2009.

Despite orders for the aircraft, the company announced in August 2008 that development of the Eclipse 400 was on hold and it had not started the certification process.[3] The company declared it had not spent any of the deposit money for the Eclipse 400 but the deposits were later a subject of legal action.[27]

On Wednesday, August 20, 2008, Hampson Aerospace closed their Grand Prairie production plant, leaving Eclipse without a supplier of tail sections.[28]

On August 22, 2008, Eclipse announced that it would be laying off 650 of its workforce of 1800 people (38% of its work force)[29][30][31] and a week later Pratt & Whitney Canada repossessed 24 engines sold to Eclipse.[32]

From August 2008 onwards a number of customers filed lawsuits against the company for failure to return deposits for cancelled and delayed orders. The company indicated that due to lack of funding it was not in a position to return deposits.[33][34][35]

On September 19, 2008, Eclipse's largest customer, DayJet, representing 1400[27] orders for the Eclipse 500, ceased flying operations for financial reasons.[36][37]

Eclipse Aviation announced on September 23, 2008, that it would establish a factory in Ulyanovsk, Russia to assemble the Eclipse 500, but then halted production of the 500 in October 2008, with the company indicating that it lacked funds to continue production or refund customer deposits.[2][38][39]

Bankruptcy and liquidation[edit]

On November 21, 2008, the company announced that it had achieved EASA certification for the 500 and then just four days later, on November 25, 2008, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.[8][40][41] The company was "seeking court approval for debtor-in-possession financing and procedures for the sale of substantially all of its assets under Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code." The company also stated that it had found a buyer for the company's assets, EclipseJet Aviation International, an affiliate of ETIRC Aviation, the company with major investments in Eclipse.[8][41]

Bankruptcy documents indicated that a total of $702.6 million was owed and the court documents filed indicated that the bankruptcy occurred because the company "continued to lose larger than expected sums of money on each aircraft manufactured and has not reached cash flow positive in its operations." Total company liabilities were estimated at over $1 billion.[42] At the time of bankruptcy filing on November 25, 2008 Eclipse had delivered 259 EA500s.[43][44]

On January 20, 2009, Federal Bankruptcy Court Judge Mary Walrath verbally approved the sale of the assets of Eclipse Aviation to EclipseJet Aviation International headed by Eclipse Aviation's chairman, Roel Pieper, under Section 363 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. EclipseJet Aviation International was unable to secure the funding they had anticipated and on February 24, 2009 a group of companies to whom Eclipse owed money applied to the court to force the unfinished Chapter 11 proceedings into Chapter 7, a move supported by the company management.[9][10][43][45][46][47][48][49][50][51]

After a lengthy Chapter 7 process running from March to August 2009, there was only one bidder for the assets of the company. Eclipse Aerospace, headed by Mike Press and Mason Holland, offered US$20M in cash and US$20M in new promissory notes, stating that they would locate the new company in the existing Eclipse facilities in Albuquerque. Eclipse Aerospace plans to provide upgrades to the current Eclipse fleet and will assess whether production can be restarted at some future point. Eclipse Aerospace was confirmed as the new owner of the assets of the former Eclipse Aviation on August 20, 2009 and opened for business on September 1, 2009.[11][12][13][52][53][54][55][56][57]

Other products[edit]

Eclipse Aviation pioneered the use of friction stir welding in aircraft structures, using it extensively in the primary structure of the Eclipse 500.[5]

Eclipse also developed PhostrEx, a fire suppression agent for use in aviation applications to replace halon, a greenhouse gas (GHG). It was developed by Eclipse Aviation for use aboard their Eclipse 500 jets, and is now being marketed to other aviation manufacturers.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Niles, Russ (July 2008). "Raburn Steps Down as Eclipse CEO". Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  2. ^ a b c Di Piazza, Karen (October 2008). "Teal Group's Richard Aboulafia's First Eclipse Aviation Report". Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  3. ^ a b Over and Out Inc, et al.: In the United States Bankruptcy Court in the District of Delaware - Complaint Case 08-13031 (MFW), page 5.
  4. ^ Grady, Mary (February 2009). "Most Eclipse Workers Sent Home". Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Eclipse Aviation (November 2008). "History of Eclipse Aviation". Retrieved 2008-11-14. 
  6. ^ Clark, Heather (January 2008). "Eclipse Aviation Gets Foreign Investment". Retrieved 2008-11-13. [dead link]
  7. ^ Bohman, Bill (November 2008). "Taxpayers invested millions in Eclipse". Retrieved 2008-11-14. 
  8. ^ a b c Niles, Russ (November 2008). "Eclipse Files For Bankruptcy Protection". Retrieved 2008-11-25. 
  9. ^ a b Spondike, Keith (January 2009). "Judge Approves Sale of Eclipse Aviation's Assets to EclipseJet Aviation International, Inc.". Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  10. ^ a b Russ, Niles (February 2009). "Eclipse Finally Fails, Fails Finally". Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  11. ^ a b Robinson-Avila, Kevin (August 2009). "New company to get Eclipse Aviation assets". Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  12. ^ a b Taragana (August 2009). "Eclipse Aerospace says no other bidders appeared for closed Eclipse". Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  13. ^ a b Marsh, Alton K. (August 2009). "Sale of Eclipse approved by bankruptcy court". Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  14. ^ Clark, Anthony (November 2008). "Eclipse Aviation may be in financial trouble". Retrieved 2008-11-14. 
  15. ^ a b c Niles, Russ (February 2006). "Eclipse Wins Collier Prize (Pre-emptively?)". Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  16. ^ a b Federal Aviation Administration (January 2008). "TYPE CERTIFICATE DATA SHEET NO. A00002AC.". Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  17. ^ McCarraher, Alana (November 2008). "Eclipse 500 Receives EASA Certification". Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  18. ^ Niles, Russ (March 2008). "Collier Irrelevance?". Retrieved 2008-11-15. 
  19. ^ Trautvetter, Chad (July 2007). "Eclipse Goes Solo with Concept Jet". Retrieved 2008-11-15. 
  20. ^ Warwick, Graham (2008-05-30). "Eclipse To Produce Single-Engined Jet". Aviation Week. McGraw-Hill. Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  21. ^ Niles, Russ (May 2008). "Eclipse Goes Ahead With Single, Hikes Price Of Twin". Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  22. ^ Pew, Glenn (October 2007). "Eclipse Lays Off Workers". Retrieved 2008-11-15. 
  23. ^ Aviation Today (November 2007). "Tail Manufacturer Sues Eclipse, Eclipse Charges Fraud". Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  24. ^ Aviation Today (February 2008). "Eclipse Aviation and Hampson Aerospace, Inc. Resolve All Outstanding Disputes". Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  25. ^ Niles, Russ (January 2008). "'Audacious' Eclipse Claims Production Record". Retrieved 2008-11-15. 
  26. ^ AvWeb Staff (August 2008). ""Eclipse Hits Back At "Speculation", AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 14, Number 34a". Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  27. ^ a b Di Piazza, Karen (October 2008). "DayJet Folds and Eclipse Aviation Struggles to Survive". Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  28. ^ Price, Shane (August 2008). "Hampsons, the FAA, the press and now this....". Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  29. ^ The Canadian Press Eclipse Aviation announces layoffs of 650 workers, Archived version from August 26, 2008
  30. ^ Niles, Russ (August 2008). "Eclipse Cuts Workforce 38 Percent". Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  31. ^ Conde Nast Portfolio (November 2008). "NM Eclipse employees unpaid for 2 weeks' work". Retrieved 2008-11-13. [dead link]
  32. ^ United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware: Case No 08-13031 (MFW) Statement of Financial Affairs Eclipse Aviation Corporation, page 12.
  33. ^ AvWeb staff (August 2008). "Eclipse Sued For Deposit Refund". Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  34. ^ Price, Shane (August 2008). "Some words from staff, suppliers and customers". Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  35. ^ Thurber, Matt (November 2008). "Eclipse sells DayJet 500s as owner lawsuits mount against Eclipse". Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  36. ^ "DayJet Discontinues Passenger Operations" (PDF). dayjet.com. 2008-09-19. 
  37. ^ DayJet (September 2008). "Frequently Asked Questions for Customers" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-09-19. [dead link]
  38. ^ Grady, Mary (September 2008). "Eclipse's Russian Factory Gets Financing, Approvals". Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  39. ^ McCarraher, Alana (September 2008). "Eclipse Aviation and ETIRC Aviation Gain Approval and Financing for Russian Production Facility". Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  40. ^ Niles, Russ (November 2008). "Eclipse Gets EASA Certification". Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  41. ^ a b McCarraher, Alana F. (December 2008). "Eclipse Aviation Seeks Court Approval for Restructuring under 363 Sale Procedures and Debtor in Possession Financing". Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  42. ^ Charter X (November 2008). "Eclipse Aviation Bankruptcy Opens the Books on Debts". Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  43. ^ a b Thurber, Matt (January 2009). "On the heels of EASA certification, Eclipse files for bankruptcy protection". Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  44. ^ Walrath, Mary F.: Order (A) Authorizing The Debtors to Sell Substantially All Of Their Assets Free and Clear etc. United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, January 23, 2009, Case Number 08-13031 (MFW)
  45. ^ Niles, Russ (December 2008). "Eclipse Auction Jan. 14". Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  46. ^ Business Week (December 2008). "Eclipse Aviation auction date set". Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  47. ^ Associated Press (January 2009). "Federal judge OKs Eclipse Aviation sale". Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  48. ^ Niles, Russ (January 2009). "Eclipse Sale Approved". Retrieved 2009-01-22. 
  49. ^ The Ad Hoc Committee: Motion of the Ad Hoc Committee of Secured Noteholders for an Order Converting the Debtors' Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Cases to cases under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code, United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, February 24, 2009, Case Number 08-13031 (MFW)
  50. ^ The Ad Hoc Committee: Motion to Shorten Notice of the Motion of the Ad Hoc Committee of Secured Noteholders for an Order Converting the Debtors' Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Cases to cases under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code, United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, February 24, 2009, Case Number 08-13031 (MFW)
  51. ^ Niles, Russ (February 2009). "Eclipse Creditors Want Chapter 7". Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  52. ^ Associated Press (August 2009). "Judge approves Eclipse sale date Aug. 20". Forbes. Retrieved 2009-08-13. [dead link]
  53. ^ Marsh, Alton K. (August 2009). "Eclipse bidder offers $40 million". Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  54. ^ Grady, Mary (August 2009). "Eclipse Sale Expected Next Week". Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  55. ^ Clark, Heather (September 2009). "Jet-maker Eclipse Aviation opens under new owner". Retrieved 2009-09-06. [dead link]
  56. ^ KOB TV Albuquerque (September 2009). "Updated: Eclipse to resume operations". Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  57. ^ KOB TV Albuquerque (September 2009). "Eclipse is back in business". Retrieved 2009-09-15. 

External links[edit]