Swiss air taxi start-up Aviace to sue Eclipse over claims it inflated price in Europe's largest VLJ deal

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Swiss start-up fractional ownership and charter operator Aviace is suing Eclipse Aviation for alleged breach of contract relating to its order for Eclipse 500 very light jets.

Aviace claims Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Eclipse delayed and later cancelled the orders, placed four years ago, so it could sell the aircraft to other customers for more money. Aviace is seeking unspecified damages in the lawsuit, filed in a US District Court in Albuquerque on 30 September, the same day the Eclipse 500 received full US certification.

 
© Eclipse
 Aviace had hoped to receive its first Eclipse 500 in 2004

Eclipse says it “cannot comment on pending litigation”.

According to reports in the Albuquerque Journal and Associated Press, Aviace claims Eclipse first delayed, then cancelled, its 112-aircraft order, which it placed in 2002, and would have made Aviace one of Eclipse’s largest customers. The deal was the largest European order for the VLJ.

Aviace alleges in the lawsuit that it was to take jet number 31 off the line as its first aircraft in 2004.

When the order was placed in May 2002, Aviace was required to pay a $2 million deposit to guarantee the price of $1.05 million per aircraft, around $500,000 less than today’s price. This deposit was paid in January last year, Aviace says.

It contends however, that following Eclipse’s powerplant switch in December 2002 from the Williams International EJ22 to Pratt &Whitney Canada PW610Fs, and the subsequent delay in the development schedule, Eclipse breached the agreement by bumping its first delivery further back, to aircraft number 47.

It says Eclipse then asked for a further $634,000 production deposit, which Aviace claims was not part of its original agreement. The suit alleges Eclipse cancelled the order last week, after Aviace refused to pay the additional charge, and that Eclipse kept $167,500 of money already paid as damages.

Eclipse’s motion, however, says Aviace planned to resell the aircraft to other customers at a profit, “thus directly competing with Eclipse’s sales efforts”.