Eclipse Clarifies Sikorsky Relationship

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Sikorsky remains a key partner in Eclipse Aerospace's plan to resume production of the very light jet. In a podcast interview with AVweb, Eclipse CEO Mason Holland said comments attributed to Greg Hayes, the CFO of United Technologies Corp. (UTC), the parent company of Sikorsky, that there would be no further investment in Eclipse by UTC may have been misconstrued by some. "We haven't asked for any more money from UTC or Sikorsky," Holland said. "We do have a funded plan for production." He said Sikorsky continues to take an active role in that process, particularly in supply chain management and manufacturing. In fact, the airframe will be built at Sikorsky's PZL plant in Poland. Final assembly will be in Albuquerque.

Holland said the first new production aircraft, designated the Eclipse 550, will roll out in 2013. He said the company intends to build 50 to 100 aircraft a year and that the backlog extends to 2014. A group headed by Holland took over the assets of the former Eclipse Aircraft for pennies on the dollar in 2009 and initially focused on supporting and finishing the fleet of 267 aircraft that were sold by the original company. In 2010, Sikorsky bought a 42 percent stake in the company. Sikorsky CEO Jeff Pino is an Eclipse owner. Eclipse announced the return to production at the 2011 NBAA convention.