Amid the factions angling to restore some or all aspects of Eclipse Aviation, one contender has gained momentum in what could now be a single or perhaps dual bid from owners and deposit holders for the assets of the Chapter 7 company within the next month.
Eclipse Jet, started by Eclipse 500 owner Mike Press and 60% deposit holder Mason Holland, has appointed five directors, including Press, Holland and former Eclipse Aviation chief executive Roel Pieper.
The team has been on a whirlwind face-to-face tour to secure investment commitments from owners and deposit holders as part of an initial round aimed at generating financing, in part to purchase the company, estimated to be valued in the $10-20 million range.
Eclipse Jet says it has received "many calls and emails" from former Eclipse employees "asking how they could be placed on a list of employees wishing to come back" if the bid is successful. Press and Holland have already begun a search for managers to run the new for-profit company, which will initially focus on parts, servicing and modifications for the existing fleet of 259 aircraft, then completing the 28 Eclipse 500s partially assembled at the factory, and lastly, restarting production.
The team is confident Eclipse Jet will become a locus for owners and others who have expressed interest in resurrecting the company, including Eclipse Services and Support, formed by Eclipse 500 air-taxi operator Linear Air, and "NewCo", a grouping of Eclipse 500 owners and deposit holders.
Countering Eclipse Jet's bid could be New Eclipse Acquisition, however, a group that continues to organise a separate offering, building support among the ranks of 260 owners to also restart the company as a profit-making venture.
Eclipse Jet plans are to produce 30-60 aircraft in the first year of operation, keeping production in Albuquerque, but also licensing production in foreign countries. The company also aims to outsource a large percentage of non-core functions, including servicing and flight training.