Eclipse Aviation's new CEO Roel Pieper says production of the Eclipse 400 single jet is no certainty and that other changes are in store as he takes the reins from company founder Vern Raburn.

"You can assume I have the courage to make the changes, if required," he stated after the surprise announcement Monday morning at AirVenture in Oshkosh. The unanimous decision by Eclipse's board of directors was made three days earlier. "We're probably going to slow down on development, do fewer things," Pieper says. "Clearly, there are some issues at Eclipse. A whole bunch of things that need to be looked at."

In the next two months he'll decide on personnel and program changes. "The formal decision to do the E400 is in November," he says. In April Raburn announced E400 orders would be opened to the public at AirVenture, but Pieper has less enthusiasm.

"Vern has said it himself," Pieper continues, "Maybe two years ago he said, 'Maybe I shouldn't be CEO.'"

 Roel Pieper

Now that he's not, Raburn says he has no idea what's next. "That's the honest-to-God truth. This has all happened very, very fast. I'm going to leave here in an hour and go fishing for a week."

He praised Pieper during the announcement, citing his experience as chairman for six months and as a distributor for four years. "He knows the company and he knows the aircraft very well," Raburn concluded.

Pieper became chairman when Luxembourg-based ETIRC expanded its role from distributor to majority shareholder, lifting Eclipse from financial trouble.

Eclipse's leadership transition was a condition of another round of investing from ETIRC. "ETIRC, together with Al Mann, who's on the board." Pieper says this round of financing takes the company to a positive cash flow, and that profitability will be reached with 1.7 to 1.8 deliveries per day in a seven say week. The rate this year has lingered below one per day.

Vern Raburn 

In his new position as Vice Chairman of ETIRC Aviation, Raburn will work to enhance infrastructure for ETIRC's air taxi service, which Pieper says will launch with 180 Eclipse 500s in Turkey, followed by service in Russia. "I would expect March-ish, 2009," he says. "We hope to have some announcements in the next month or so."



Source: Flight Daily News