The Eclipse Lawsuit

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Late last month, Swiss aviation startup Aviace filed suit against Eclipse Aviation, saying the Albuquerque-based aircraft manufacturer delayed and then canceled its order for 112 Eclipse 500s at a price of $1.045 million apiece. When Aviace placed the fleet order for the very light jets in May 2002, it said it planned to offer the aircraft through a jet club scheme, with the Eclipse 500s to be used for point-to-point, on-demand private jet travel, at attractive prices, throughout Europe. Aviace says it later shelved this business plan due to delays in the aircraft program, and last year decided it would sell some of its Eclipse 500 positions for nearly a half-million-dollar per airplane profit (Eclipse currently prices the jet at $1.52 million), putting Aviace in direct competition with Eclipse Aviation. And that, according to Aviace, is where the trouble began.

According to the lawsuit, deliveries to Aviace were to begin with the Eclipse 500 serial number 31. However, the Swiss company claims Eclipse recently bumped its first delivery to serial number 47 and then later canceled the order for failure to pay a $634,305 production deposit. According to Aviace, it did not have to pay these deposits for the first few deliveries. "Eclipse desires to terminate the purchase agreement so as to retain the aircraft under contract for sale to Aviace for Eclipse to resell for a profit greater than that to be obtained under the purchase agreement," Aviace claims in the lawsuit. Through the lawsuit, the Swiss company seeks either to have its delivery schedule reinstated or have Eclipse pay unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.