Most Eclipse Workers Sent Home

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Eclipse Aviation sent home 800 of its remaining workforce of 850 in Albuquerque on Wednesday, but a company official said he hopes to recall them soon. "It's a furlough, not a layoff," Eclipse President and General Manager Mike McConnell told reporters in a conference call on Wednesday afternoon. He said the global financial crisis has slowed down efforts to put together the financing package necessary to complete the sale of the company, which was approved in bankruptcy court last month. "That it's taking longer speaks to the complexity of putting together global deals in today's economy," he said. "The good news is, we believe they're very close to closing the transaction." The affected workers will receive their next paycheck as scheduled, he said, and will continue to receive benefits. McConnell couldn't guarantee that all the furloughed employees will be recalled. He said the company still has about 1,000 orders for jets, with 30 right now in the production line. So far, 259 E500 jets have been delivered.

The assets of the company were sold last month in a bankruptcy court proceeding to EclipseJet Aviation International, a subsidiary of ETIRC Aviation, for $28 million in cash plus $160 million in shares and 15-percent equity in the company for secured shareholders. When the company filed for Chapter 11 protection last November, it was estimated that Eclipse owed more than $1 billion to a long list of creditors. Last October, Forecast International, an aerospace market think tank, said it expected the company would likely cease production early in 2009. In September, the company announced the Russian government had approved construction of an assembly plant there.