Eclipse Lands Another Large VLJ Order
Albuquerque, N.M.-based Eclipse Aviation's order book for its very light jet swelled to nearly 2,700 airplanes thanks to a large fleet order from ETIRC Aviation on Wednesday at the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland. The Luxembourg-based Eclipse 500 distributor placed a firm order for 120 of the small twinjets with options for 60 more. ETIRC Aviation, led by European high-tech industry veteran Roel Pieper, also signed an agreement with Atasay, a luxury goods company, to provide a jet-taxi service for Turkey’s business travelers using these 120 to 180 Eclipse 500s. Added to a previous standing order for 40 Eclipse 500s, ETIRC could take delivery of up to 220 of the very light jets before all is said and done. This latest order further solidifies Eclipse's dependence on the success of the yet-to-be-proven VLJ air-taxi industry. Some 1,700 of Eclipse's order book, which equates to fully two-thirds of the 2,700 tally of firm orders and options, are confirmed to be from air-taxi firms, and slightly more than 1,400 of them are from startup air-taxi hopeful DayJet of Delray Beach, Fla. While there's no shortage of air-taxi optimists, business aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia believes the success of air taxis is anything but assured. In his latest blog entry, Aboulafia predicts that air taxis "will be hobbled by low utilization and high prices."