Better Late Than Never; Eclipse Covers Payroll

Eclipse Aviation employees were promised last Friday that their paychecks for the first two weeks of November would be delivered by last Tuesday. They were not disappointed, as company management was able to secure the financing needed to pay workers-at least for now. Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Eclipse would not comment on its financial state, but denied that any additional employees had been laid off. Eclipse has said it needs $200 million to $300 million in further financing to remain solvent. No details were given on where such long-term financing might come from, but an AP story reported that the mayor of Albuquerque, Martin Chavez, had spoken with Eclipse President of Manufacturing Peg Billson, who told him she was confident new funding would be forthcoming. The mayor said she indicated the long-term financing was in place, but held up with paperwork. Chavez said, "My sense is they were talking days, not weeks." Chavez also said the company was in compliance with terms of its $45 million industrial revenue bond issued by the city, but that he had assembled a team to monitor Eclipse's difficulties in order to protect taxpayers' interests. Also reported in the AP story, the State Investment Council of New Mexico has a $19 million investment in Eclipse, but a spokesman told the news agency there are no plans to increase that investment to help cash-strapped Eclipse. When they were told on Thursday that checks would not be forthcoming, workers were given the option of going home or staying at work. Some cleared out their desks. When Eclipse announced on Friday that the payroll would be met on Tuesday, all employees were asked to report to work on Monday. Payroll challenges are not new to fledgling aviation companies. In the early 1970s, after losing $27 million in its first two years, FedEx founder Fred Smith created a business legend when he, literally, gambled the entire company payroll in Las Vegas to secure further funding.