"Intense negotiations" with investors continue as very light jet rivals battle for position

Funding for Safire Aircraft's very light Safire Jet is proving elusive despite claims by senior management earlier this month that sufficient investment had been secured to complete development of the six-seat aircraft, and that operations would resume by 10 July.

This major setback has put the future of the company in doubt, although "intense negotiations" are continuing, Safire says, with investors from Europe and the United Arab Emirates.

The funding crisis peaked last month, forcing Safire to shut its Miami, Florida-based operation. "We are still talking to our potential investors," says Safire Aircraft president and chief executive Camilo Salomon, "and there are a number of issues that still need to be addressed before funding can be released." A source close to the programme says the conditions of investment have been resisted by some existing shareholders.

Salomon, meanwhile, says Safire customers continue to remain loyal and have not defected to rival Eclipse Aviation, which is actively appealing to Safire position holders to exchange their refundable $8,000 deposit for an Eclipse 500 position.

Eclipse claims to have converted a handful of Safire customers following "an awesome response" to its advertisements. The Albuquerque, New Mexico-based company says Eclipse 500 development continues on schedule with the first flight of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F-powered aircraft on target for December, leading to certification and first deliveries in 2006.



Source: Flight International