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EA500 owners behold new Total Eclipse

Eclipse 500 very light jets are again for sale seven months after the New Mexico-based factory reopened its doors.

The factory's new owners on 29 March unveiled the $2.15 million Total Eclipse configuration. Four major upgrades include flight into known icing conditions, a 41,000ft (12,500m) ceiling, a 20,000-cycle airframe life and several new systems, such as an on-board colour radar, electronic moving map, and Jeppesen eCharts.

The upgrades complete the final configuration of the "original" EA500, says Mason Holland, chairman and president of Eclipse Aerospace.

Holland and partner Mike Press purchased Eclipse Aviation's assets in bankruptcy for $40 million. The renamed Eclipse Aerospace then began supplying parts for the 260 jets already in service, while negotiating deals with suppliers who lost millions of dollars from the bankruptcy.

Both Holland and Press also intend to restart production of a redesigned EA500. A decision was originally expected in early 2010, but the timeframe is now "to be determined", the company says.

The production decision depended on a fresh market analysis and the outcome of negotiations with the Eclipse supply chain.

Meanwhile, Eclipse is offering several options for buying the upgraded Total Eclipse. A limited number of new buyers will be offered a guaranteed buy-back, allowing the owner to trade in an upgraded Total Eclipse to offset the price of a new production model after they become available.

Secondly, Eclipse will offer current EA500 owners between $1 million to $1.7 million for trading in a used EA500 for a Total Eclipse version.

Eclipse Aviation once employed 4,000 people with plans to deliver hundreds of new very light jets every year. But the original company founded by Vern Raburn dissolved in bankruptcy by mid-2009.

The new ownership of the Eclipse brand claims to employ 100 engineers and technicians, including the Albuquerque factory and a service centre near Chicago.

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