Don't Give Up The Ship

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Eclipse Setbacks Ripple Local Economy...

Vern Raburn, the CEO of Eclipse Aviation in Albuquerque, is not one to give up when the going gets tough, according to a report in Tuesday's edition of New Mexico Business Weekly. Says Raburn: "If you are going to engage in something that is difficult, you have to be attuned from the very first day that ultimately you are going to do this until you die trying." Although the company has chosen a Pratt & Whitney engine to replace the Williams jet, which Eclipse says failed to live up to expectations, the glitch has set back the company's delivery schedule by two years (to 2006), and has the local economy waiting for some 2,500 high-paying aviation jobs to materialize. Local economic-development officials also must defer their dreams to turn Albuquerque into an aviation manufacturing center. Eclipse had planned to begin building a $75 million manufacturing plant this year at Double Eagle II Airport. Those plans now have also been pushed back by about two years, according to the Business Weekly.

...As Small-Jet Race Continues

While Eclipse works to redesign its program, other manufacturers are hot on the trail. Diamond Aircraft, of Canada, plans to build a single-jet five-passenger aircraft, with a powerplant yet to be determined. Diamond plans to deliver its D-Jet by 2006 with a price tag "well under U.S. $1 million." Adam Aircraft, of Colorado, also using Williams engines, plans to start delivering its $2 million A700 bizjet late next year. Safire Aircraft, in Florida, has chosen a larger model of the Williams engine, the FJ-33, to power its light jet, and plans to fly it next year. Cessna's contender, the Citation Mustang, will run on Pratt & Whitneys and sell for about $3 million. Then there's Honda. What could prove to be a dark horse in this steeplechase: Honda Motor Co. has been secretive about its plans, but is reportedly developing a twinjet in the $2 million to $3 million range that would fly with very economical Honda jet engines. Last Week, Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) and Honda Motor Co. announced they will join forces to study the feasibility of producing more bang for the buck through a next-generation piston aircraft engine for the GA market.