Relaunched Eclipse Might Outsource Maintenance

When it won the $40 million Eclipse sweepstakes earlier this year, Eclipse Aerospace set modest initial goals. Reports now indicate the new company could help economize by outsourcing maintenance to third-party shops. Factory service centers that were expecting a rebirth of activity, including the Albany, New York, facility, might be facing a dubious future as a result. The newly formed company wants to start with doing what it can to support the current fleet of some 260 Eclipse 500s; hire enough staff to complete some 30 aircraft in various stages of production at the factory in Albuquerque, New Mexico; reestablish contact with a long list of parts suppliers to help complete those 30 jets and reopen parts supply availability for current owners; and upgrade as many existing Eclipse 500s as possible to the current configuration as soon as possible (including icing certification and avionics upgrades). The new owners defer any plans to restart production of new Eclipse airframes until at least the first half of 2011. Any chance of that happening depends on the new company's success in satisfying existing owners and the overall state of the world economy.