Hawker May Supply Eclipse Support, Auction Expected Soon

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With the auction of the assets of Eclipse Aviation, including the type certificate for the E500 jet, expected soon -- perhaps sometime this month -- interest is ramping up, and this week, the Eclipse Owners Group, which plans to enter a bid, said it is working with Hawker Beechcraft on a plan to provide maintenance support for the fleet. David Green, a spokesman for the EOG, said on Tuesday the group has entered into a preliminary agreement with Hawker, contingent on EOG's winning the auction. "This relationship [with Hawker] is sure to create tremendous confidence in Eclipse owners that their planes will be flying for many years to come," said Green. "Hawker Beechcraft is pleased to offer Eclipse 500 owners the highest quality service and support in general aviation," said Bill Brown, president of global customer service and support for Hawker Beechcraft. "We look forward to this new relationship and keeping the Eclipse 500s in the air." The owners group will be competing with at least four other likely bidders, including one that is headed by former Eclipse CEO Roel Pieper, one foreign entity, and one OEM. Randall Sanada, an Eclipse owner who is also chairman of Jet-Alliance, an aircraft management company, told AVweb on Wednesday that the EOG has raised enough money through contributions from its members to be a viable bidder for the company's assets.

However, he added that the owners would be glad to see a stronger, better-funded candidate come along and out-bid them. "What we don't want is for another bankruptcy to occur," he said. The challenge is to create a viable business plan that will support the fleet of 260 jets in a way that is affordable for current owners. Sanada also said that Jet-Alliance is working on a plan to acquire DayJet's fleet of E500 jets and disburse them at a discounted price to deposit-holders who have lost their money in the bankruptcy, perhaps on a shared-ownership basis. Many of the fleet of Eclipse jets still require substantial upgrades, including tip tanks and avionics, Sanada said, which could cost up to $500,000 per airplane. Also, if nothing changes, all of the jets will be grounded before long as they accumulate hours and reach mandated maintenance needs that can't be met.