Eclipse Aviation has obtained long-term financing, likely from a source in Europe, and the first instalments had already arrived at the company the week of 31 December.
According to sources, the backing, in addition to Eclipse’s internal fund raising efforts, is of a magnitude that will allow the company to operate throughout 2008 and to reach profitability in terms of production – up to two aircraft per day from less than one presently -- and perhaps even launch a new model. Profitability could then place Eclipse in a favourable light for an initial public offering.
Eclipse has hinted that such financing was in the works and has planned a press conference at its headquarters in Albuquerque on 14 January to discuss an “important financing development, and discuss an exciting new opportunity to grow the Eclipse 500 market,” according to a press release issued 10 January.
There is some speculation that Eclipse will expand its operations into Europe to tap into high sales interest there once European certification is completed some time this year. About 120 of the company’s 2500 orders to date are from European buyers, principally from Luxembourg-based Etirc Aviation.
The good news for Eclipse comes as the company’s first post-production aircraft begins to receive promised upgrades -- Avio NG integrated avionics, external tip tank modifications, new wing deice boots and some minor upgrades – in the company’s Gainesville, Florida service centre.
Aircraft number 28, which was sold on the secondary market to Evgeniy Chervonenko, governor of the Zaporozhiy region state administration in the Ukraine, is scheduled to be completed around 8 February, 28 days after the work started. The aircraft is taking on the role as the validation and verification ship for a service bulletin covering the work.
Eclipse plans to decrease the downtime to a little as 18 days for the retrofits as mechanics get experience making the changes, with customer aircraft beginning to arrive mid-February at service centres in Gainesville and Albany, New York and in Van Nuys, California in early April.
Upgrades to as many as 110 delivered aircraft are expected to be complete roughly one year after starting. The company plans to dedicate 50% of its initial capacity to finish the 12 non-US aircraft.