UTC: Sikorsky to make no further investments in Eclipse

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A top United Technologies Corp (UTC) executive says the company has no business interest in restarting production of the Eclipse very light jet.

UTC subsidiary Sikorsky last year acquired a 42% stake valued at less than $25 million in Eclipse Aerospace, which in 2009 had acquired the assets of the defunct Albuquerque start-up that designed and built the Eclipse 500.

Eclipse Aerospace is working on resuming production of the improved Eclipse 550, and has cited Sikorsky's investment as a major step towards reaching that goal.

But UTC chief financial officer Greg Hayes told a Wall Street analyst today that the company has no plans to continue making investments in Eclipse Aerospace.

"We're not investing any more money in Eclipse," Hayes says. "We are not in the light jet business."

UTC's role is limited to continuing aftermarket support for existing Eclipse 500 customers, which includes Sikorsky president Jeffrey Pino as a private owner.

But Hayes' comments come less than three months after Pino suggested that Sikorsky could support the launch of the Eclipse 550.

Speaking to reporters in February at Heli-Expo, Pino noted that the business jet market is coming back, but with the light jet sector trailing the larger cabin market.

"It's not to where we are [comfortable] yet. We're keeping 276 [Eclipse 500s] flying," Pino said. "Let the market come back, know we have a value proposition and then we'll launch."