We've all heard it before. General aviation aircraft manufacturer goes bankrupt. Deposit holders lose their money. New investors buy the assets at pennies for the dollar. Promises are made to restart production.
This week Eclipse Aerospace opens for business, having acquired the remaining assets of the first very light jet programme, the Eclipse 500. The new company - not to be confused with Eclipse Aviation, which went bust late last year after producing 259 aircraft - is starting out by selling spare parts and upgrades needed to keep the existing fleet flying. A decision on restarting production is planned for early next year.
Resuming production means significant new investment - well beyond the $40 million it took to buy Eclipse Aviation in a bankruptcy auction that generated only one bid. It's a long shot, given the economic climate and intensifying competition in the VLJ sector.
Perhaps the only chance is if a manufacturer from a country with well-funded ambitions to become a player in the VLJ sector restarts production. But even if a deal is made with the Chinese or Russians the chances of success are slim; note the failure of Russian-backed AAI Acquisitions to restart the Adam Aircraft A700.
We wish Eclipse Aerospace luck. The new company and the owners of 200 Eclipse 500s flying today, who now have to pay for upgrades that should have come with the purchase price, certainly need it.
Source: Flight International