Eclipse Loses EASA Type Certificate, Suppliers Lose More

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The EASA Type Certificate covering the Eclipse 500 has been suspended (PDF) as of June 12, 2009, striking a potential blow to the value of Eclipse Aviation's intellectual property assets that may soon be sold at auction. Now in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Eclipse Aviation has even less to offer potential buyers. Eclipse achieved the EASA certificate in November of last year, hoping to win a new market for the aircraft in any of 30 European nations, but since that time the vast majority of delivered Eclipse 500 very light jets have been registered in the United States. So, on the upside, the suspension shouldn't have much of an effect on aircraft that are currently in use. On the rapidly growing downside, Eclipse's assets will now offer even less to the company's suppliers that have lined up to fill out bankruptcy court claim forms for money due them. One supplier (of about 145) that may take a big hit, 59-year-old Sun Country Industries, may be stuck with unpaid invoices totaling half a million dollars and "is sitting on an additional $750,000 in parts and material" otherwise destined for Eclipse, according to Aircraft Maintenance Technology online (AMT). To make matters worse, of Eclipse's physical assets, which could be sold to repay its debts, it seems many may have never been paid for by Eclipse.

According to AMT, court documents show that some $76 million worth of equipment and parts housed in Eclipse's facilities were never owned by Eclipse. Companies that continued to work with Eclipse in 2008 reportedly saw payment delays increase to about three months in the second half of the year when many suppliers shifted to a credit freeze/cash only policy with the company. Of those that stayed with the company, many truly wanted the manufacturer to succeed, according to AMT. That condition lasted mostly until July 2008, when Eclipse CEO Vern Rayburn was removed from his position, blaming much of the company's problems on problems with suppliers.