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Sikorsky Completes Minority Investment in Eclipse

Eclipse

February 3, 2011 — Sikorsky Aircraft, the big helicopter maker, finalized a minority equity investment in Eclipse Aerospace, the successor company to Eclipse Aviation that created the light twin jet Eclipse 500. The tentative deal was announced last fall and was completed on February 2.

What neither company is hinting at is the size of the investment made by Sikorsky, other than to say it is a “minority” stake in the company. However, Eclipse chairman and CEO Mason Holland called the amount “significant.” The investment, whatever its value, does give Eclipse important aid in its efforts to reintroduce production, according to Eclipse management.

Sikorsky has also signed on to use its global supply network to help Eclipse support the approximately 260 Model 500 jets that were manufactured before the original company went bankrupt.

This is not the first time Sikorsky has reached into the world of general aviation to make an investment. In 2004 Sikorsky acquired Schweizer Aircraft, a company most famous for making metal gliders. However, by the time Sikorsky bought the company, Schweizer had transformed itself into an advanced engineering company capable of making quick and accurate prototypes and that was one of the primary attractions for Sikorsky.

When it comes to Eclipse, the question at the top of everyone’s list is when, and if, the 500 will go back into production. Eclipse’s Holland has revealed no timetable, but does note that improvement in market conditions is essential before the company can resume building jets. Holland did say that the “depth, experience, and strength of Sikorsky Aircraft” will be vital to the Eclipse plans for the future.

For now, Eclipse is focused on its Total Eclipse program, which is a comprehensive refurbishment of one of the existing Eclipse 500s. At its Albuquerque facility, Eclipse totally overhauls a 500 and installs advanced avionics and the equipment necessary for flight into known icing. New paint and interior are included, as is a new factory warranty. The Total Eclipse airplane meets the promises offered for the original and it is sold direct by the factory. Price for a Total Eclipse 500 is $2.15 million.

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