Eclipse Aviation

Eclipse Aviation

Infobox Company
company_name = Eclipse Aviation Corporation
type = Private
foundation = 1998
location_city = Albuquerque, New Mexico
location_country = USA
location =
locations =
key_people = Roel Pieper, CEO cite web|url =|title = Raburn Steps Down as Eclipse CEO |accessdate = 2008-07-28|last = Niles|first = Russ|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = July]
area_served =
industry = Aerospace
products = Eclipse 500, Eclipse 400
services =
revenue =
operating_income =
net_income =
num_employees = 1800
parent =
divisions =
subsid =
slogan = "(Creating) affordable jet aircraft that will revolutionize the transportation market."
homepage = []
dissolved =
footnotes =
intl =

Eclipse Aviation Corporation is the manufacturer of the Eclipse 500 and Eclipse 400 very light jets (VLJs). The company was founded in 1998 by former Microsoft employee Vern Raburn, and is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The company currently employs about 1,800 personnel and claims that it has nearly 2,500 orders for the Eclipse 500. Eclipse operates service centers at Albuquerque, Gainesville Regional Airport in Florida, Albany International Airport in New York, and has plans to open a small service facility in Van Nuys, California.

Eclipse Aviation pioneered the use of Friction stir welding in aircraft structures, using it extensively in the primary structure of the Eclipse 500.Fact|date=July 2008 Eclipse also developed PhostrEx, a fire suppression agent for use in aviation applications to replace halon, a greenhouse gas (GHG). It was developed by Eclipse Aviation for use aboard their Eclipse 500 jets, and is now being marketed to other aviation manufacturers.Fact|date=July 2008


Company management includes: cite web|url =|title = Eclipse Aviation Executive Team|accessdate = 2008-07-16|last = Eclipse Aviation|authorlink = |year = 2008]
*Roel Pieper, president and CEO
*Peg Billson, COO
*J. Mark Borseth, senior vice president, CFO
*Raymond Barratt, vice president, CIO
*Andrew Vikta, vice president, Controller and Chief Accounting Officer
*Dr. Oliver Masefield, senior vice president, senior fellow
*Don Burtis, senior vice president, senior fellow
*Bill Bonder, vice president, Supply Chain Management
*Bruce Castle, vice president, General Counsel
*Todd Fierro, vice president, Manufacturing
*Patrick Duffy, vice president, Product Development and Engineering
*Jack Harrington, vice president, Business Affairs
*Andrew Kamm, vice president, Finance
*Ed Lundeen, vice president, Contracts
*Michael McConnell, vice president, Marketing & Sales
*John Ricciardelli, vice president, Customer Experience & Support Services
*Tina Rulo, vice president, Human Resources

Raburn's departure

Founding President and CEO Vern Raburn resigned as a condition of a financing package by ETIRC, the European company that invested more than USD$100 million in Eclipse in 2008. Raburn announced his resignation at AirVenture on Monday 28 July 2008.

In departing Raburn stated that he believes Eclipse fundamentally changed aviation but he did acknowledge that events did not occur as quickly or as smoothly as he had planned.

Raburn has been replaced by Roel Pieper, the chairman of the board of directors and president of ETIRC. Raburn was initially offered an executive position at ETIRC however, he turned it down, ending his relationship with Eclipse. cite web|url =|title = "Eclipse Hits Back At "Speculation", AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 14, Number 34a |accessdate = 2008-08-19|last = AvWeb Staff|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = August]

Board of Directors

The company board consists of the following members: cite web|url =|title = Eclipse Aviation Leadership|accessdate = 2008-07-28|last = Eclipse Aviation|authorlink = |year = 2008]
*Roel Pieper, non-executive chairman of Eclipse Aviation; CEO, ETIRC
*Harold A. Poling, retired chairman and CEO, Ford Motor Company
*Kent Kresa, chairman emeritus, Northrop Grumman
*Alfred E. Mann, chairman and CEO, MannKind Corporation

2008 Non-disclosure controversy

In April 2008 Eclipse obtained a court order in California ordering Google to provide the IP addresses of 29 anonymous contributors to the Eclipse Aviation Critic NG blog, which is hosted on Google's Blogger service. cite web|url =|title = Eclipse Seeks To Reveal Critics' Names |accessdate = 2008-05-07|last = Grady|first = Mary|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = April] cite web|url =|title = Eclipse Aviation Critic Blogger Fights Eclipse Aviation Subpoena|accessdate = 2008-05-07|last = Di Piazza|first = Karen|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = April]

The blog, run by Shane Price of Dublin, Ireland is a forum for those who are critical of the company and its treatment of employees, customers and suppliers. Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn said that the pursuit of blog contributors was not to suppress criticism, stating: "We're not trying to suppress dissension or criticism. We're just trying to find out where it's coming from." Raburn stated that since Eclipse employees and suppliers are bound by non-disclosure agreements he wants to ensure that these are not being broken.

Price indicated that some of the identities named in the court subpoena had not posted on the blog and that these may have come from a previous blog that was critical of Eclipse, but was shut down. The subpoena was opposed by several people in court on the basis that, since they have no connection to the company, the disclosure of their identities violates their First Amendment rights.

One contributor to the blog, Rich Lucibella, told CharterX Industry Headline News that he found Eclipse's actions "outrageous." Lucibella said:

Lucibella retained attorney Norman Malinski and filed a motion in the Superior Court of California to prevent Google releasing contributor's private information. cite web|url =|title = The Critics Strike Back|accessdate = 2008-05-10|last = Price|first = Shane|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = May]

Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn was contacted several times by CharterX Industry Headline News for comment on this issue, but he refused to answer any questions during the period of the controversy.

On August 3rd, 2008 after Vern Raburn's removal from the company, the new management at Eclipse dropped the legal actions against Google and the bloggers, under terms set by Malinski. "If Eclipse ever goes after these 29 bloggers again, Eclipse could face financial penalties in advance of proceedings," Malinski said. cite web|url =|title = Eclipse Aviation: New CEO, Blogger Suit Quashed|accessdate = 2008-08-04|last = Di Piazza|first = Karen|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = Augustl]

Malinski concluded:

Relocation of the company

In response to frequent rumors in the summer of the 2008 that the company would close its Albuquerque plant and relocate the operation, Eclipse issued the following statement on 14 August 2008:

Eclipse Aviation announced on 23 September 2008 that it will establish a factory in Ulyanovsk, Russia to assemble the Eclipse 500. The Russian State Bank will finance 100% of the project, investing USD$205 million and will be a part-owner of the operation. The Russian State Bank is chaired by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The Russian-based operation will be jointly operated by the European Technology and Investment Research Center (ETIRC) Aviation, the Russian Federation, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Republic of Turkey. cite web|url =|title = Eclipse's Russian Factory Gets Financing, Approvals |accessdate = 2008-09-25|last = Grady|first = Mary|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = September] cite web|url =|title = Eclipse Aviation and ETIRC Aviation Gain Approval and Financing for Russian Production Facility|accessdate = 2008-09-25|last = McCarraher|first = Alana|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = September]

August 2008 lay-offs

On 19 August 2008 Albany International, an Eclipse supplier, announced that production of the Eclipse would be dropping significantly. [CNN Money [ Textile maker Albany International warns that customer Eclipse is cutting jet production] ]

On 22 August 2008, Eclipse announced that it would be laying off 650 of its workforce of 1800 people (38% of its work force). [The Canadian Press [ announces layoffs of 650 workers] ] cite web|url =|title = Eclipse Cuts Workforce 38 Percent |accessdate = 2008-08-25|last = Niles|first = Russ|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = August]

Company President and CEO, Roel Pieper, said:

Eclipse suppliers, such as Hampson Aerospace of Grand Prairie, Texas, have likewise had to reduce staff due to "absence of demand" from Eclipse, who are their only customer. Hampson makes the tail assembly for the Eclipse 500.

2008 Deposit lawsuits

In August 2008 Eclipse was sued for failing to provide a refund on a canceled order by its due date of 1 August 2008. Ice Blue Air, of London, ordered an Eclipse 500 in 2006 and has indicated that, due to the price increases that they are entitled to a refund as stipulated in the purchase agreement. The purchase agreement permits cancellation and a full refund if the aircraft's price is raised. Eclipse disagrees and has indicated that no refunds will be possible until further financing is in place, probably by the end of 2008. Eclipse has been the subject of several delivery related lawsuits and as many as 300 customer orders have been canceled and are awaiting refunds. cite web|url =|title = Eclipse Sued For Deposit Refund |accessdate = 2008-09-01|last = AvWeb staff|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = August] cite web|url =|title = Some words from staff, suppliers and customers |accessdate = 2008-09-01|last = Price |first = Shane |authorlink = |year = 2008|month = August]


On 19 September 2008 Eclipse's largest customer, DayJet, representing 1430 orders for the Eclipse 500, ceased flying operations for financial reasons and indicated that a return to flying was "unlikely".cite web
title=DayJet Discontinues Passenger Operations
] cite web|url =|title = Frequently Asked Questions for Customers|accessdate = 2008-09-19|last = DayJet|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = September]

DayJet stated:

In October 2008 Airport Journals reported more detail on the DayJet order for 1400 aircraft:

cquote|On May 2, 2007, for the first time, Traver-Gruen-Kennedy, vice president of strategic operations at DayJet, confirmed to this journalist that in 2002, under the name of Jetson Systems, not DayJet, 1,400 EA-500 orders were placed. During that time, Gruen-Kennedy said that although the colossal order was placed, the company would first operate 300 VLJs within a two-year period. But because the 1,400 orders existed, at least on paper, they were used during a 2005 New Mexico State Investment Council meeting, which prompted the state's private equity program to purchase more than $3 million of Eclipse Series F preferred stock. Since that funding, the state invested much more into Eclipse.

For years, aviation analysts have said they doubted there was any substance behind the 1,400 orders. To this day, Eclipse has refused to make its order book available, for verification of orders and cancellations. With the Eclipse 500's price now reaching $2.5 million, and with the 1,400 orders gone, aerospace analysts are skeptical about the company's likelihood of survival. Eclipse's marketing plan was based on mass production with a VLJ in the $1 million range. cite web|url =|title = DayJet Folds and Eclipse Aviation Struggles to Survive |accessdate = 2008-10-08|last = Di Piazza|first = Karen|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = October]

ee also

* PhostrEx
* Williams V-Jet II
* PiperJet


External links

* [ Eclipse Aviation Homepage]
* ['s+Vern+silences+the.html Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn's interview]
* [ Video interview of Eclipse Aviation test pilot Dan Miele & prospective passengers]
* [ Eclipse Aviation Critic NG]

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