Eclipse Solidifies European Funding; Plans Russian Factory

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It's been a rollercoaster week for Eclipse and its Russian partner European Technology and Investment Research Center (ETIRC). On the upside, the partners announced they have gained approval and financing for their proposed European production facility in Ulyanovsk, Russia. The Russian State Bank Vnesheconombank supervisory board approved construction of the factory. The board is chaired by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The bank said it would shoulder the full $205 million construction project on its own, and work is scheduled to begin in 2010. It is expected the factory will produce up to 800 aircraft per year, though the partnership agreement with ETIRC specifies "production at Eclipse's headquarters in Albuquerque will continue in full prior to and following the start of the Russian facility's operations." Roel Pieper, chairman of ETIRC Aviation, was named to head Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Eclipse Aviation this summer following the forced resignation of company founder Vern Raburn.