““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
With Eclipse in Bankruptcy, Owners Await Auction
Although Eclipse Aviation, maker of the Eclipse 500 very light jet, is undergoing Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy proceedings, the judge in the case has yet to set
a date for the auction of the company's assets. Eclipse delivered 259 jets before going bankrupt, and so far two groups have emerged with plans to bid on the assets and rebuild the support structure for those jets as well as eventually put
the Eclipse 500 back into production. A possible third group backed by Chinese investors may also be interested in Eclipse's assets.
One group that has publicly stated its goals is the Ad Hoc Committee of Eclipse Customers. Its priority is supporting existing Eclipses, according to spokesman and Eclipse owner Randall Sanada, also chairman of Westlake Village, Calif.-based Jet-Alliance. Future production is also planned, although Sanada feels the Eclipse 500 would have to sell for close to $2 million to be competitive.
Another group, New Eclipse Acquisition, is headed by Phil Friedman, CEO of Wichita-based Harlow Aerostructures. If Harlow's group successfully bids, he plans to work with suppliers to provide maintenance support and upgrades for Eclipse 500 owners. Friedman hopes to be able to put the Eclipse 500 back into production by 2011 at a price of about $2.4 million.