EASA certifies Eclipse 500, company files for Chapter 11 protection

Eclipse Aviation has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. EclipseJet Aviation Intl has placed the initial offer to purchase the company as the stalking-horse bidder. From there the company will be open to any other offers. Greenhill, an New York NY-based independent investment bank, is acting as financial advisor to Eclipse. Greenhill Managing Dir Brad Robins says, "We are selling substantially all the assets of Eclipse and will sell the business as a going concern to either the stalking-horse bidder or pursuant to a 'higher and better offer'." According to Eclipse, the plan is to maintain production at its Albuquerque NM headquarters while it continues to build its Russian manufacturing facility. Separately, Eclipse has been issued EASA certification for the Eclipse 500, opening the door to deliveries of the VLJ to European customers. Operation and FAA certification of the Avio NG 1.5 flightdeck was a requirement for EASA certification.


Industry

Grob Aerospace has laid off 335 employees from its Mattsies, Germany facility. The company has been unable to secure an investor to aid in the recovery of its insolvency within the timeline allowed by German courts. With these developments, the airframer's Swiss-based component has also been forced to file for insolvency with Swiss courts.

Grob Pres & CEO Niall Olver remains confident his company will find an investor for both the German and Swiss branches. According to a statement by Olver, a small group of employees is being maintained at the German facility in hopes of restarting work on Grob's SPn midsize jet.

Cessna has achieved type certification for the Citation Mustang from Transport Canada and the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau. This clears the way for deliveries to customers in both countries. The current fleet of Citation Mustangs in operation worldwide totals 130 aircraft, which have accumulated more than 19,000 flight hours. One aircraft has accumulated 500 hours.The Mustang is now certified in 51 countries.

Dedication of Cessna's Citation Columbus facility at the company's Wichita campus near ICT (Mid-Continent, Wichita KS) took place in late October. This 600,000 sq ft facility will house design and assembly processes for the Columbus. Cessna has designed the building to comply with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design requirements for classification as an eco-friendly building.

Hawker Beechcraft has secured a $171-million order for 23 King Air 350ERs from the US Air Force. With deliveries beginning in 2009, the new aircraft will be used for special mission roles including airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

General Aviation Manufacturers Assn (GAMA) has released its report on worldwide deliveries of GA airplanes for the first 9 months of 2008. Turboprop shipments increased from 300 aircraft in the first 3 quarters last year to 341 aircraft in 2008. Business jet shipments totaled 990 units-a 30.1% increase over the same period in 2007. Including smaller GA aircraft, a total of 2977 airplanes were shipped in the first 3 quarters, valued at $18.2 billion, compared to 2918 units valued at $15.1 billion during this same period in 2007. "Notwithstanding these positive 3rd-quarter numbers for turbine powered aircraft deliveries, our industry is experiencing difficulties due to the weakness of the global economy," says GAMA Pres & CEO Pete Bunce. "Reacting to the lead-and-lag nature of this economic slowdown, several companies have announced layoffs and are working very aggressively to retain orders and encourage new ones."


Avionics & navaids

 

Universal Avionics has received an STC for its WAAS/SBAS flight management system (FMS) in the Learjet 60. Haggan Aviation of Englewood CO holds the STC and completed installation of the UNS1Fw FMS on Nov 19. The STC includes approval for 3D coupled RNAV/LPV approaches.

Mid-Canada Mod Center MC2, based in Mississauga ON, Canada, has received certification for installation of the Universal EFI890 EFIS for the Hawker 700. Additional avionics included in this upgrade are dual FMS, Class A TAWS, application server unit to display charts on the nav display, and radio control units, all built by Universal. The EFIS also has Rockwell Collins-built AHC1000A AHRS, TCAS4000, dual Mode S transponders with ELS/EHS, Pro Line II radio suite, TWR850 weather radar and RVSM with dual ADC87A.

Hawker Pacific will expand its avionics business into Dubai. Opening in early 2009, a new facility, Hawker Pacific Avionics, will be located at Hawker Pacific's existing base in the Jebel Ali Free Zone, UAE. Initially, the facility will offer bench capability for instrument, electrical and avionics equipment. It will eventually expand into a full service avionics shop. Hawker Pacific VP Avionics and Government Business Doug Park says the company had identified a need for qualified professional avionics service in the region for both rotary and fixed-wing operators. Currently, aircraft operators need to send avionics out of the region for service, which is both time-consuming and costly.

Universal Avionics has won 2 motions for summary judgment on 3 remaining patents in the ongoing infringement battle with Honeywell. The lawsuit, originally filed in May 2002, accuses the avionics company of infringement on 61 claims in 5 TAWS patents held by Honeywell. Both of the summary judgments ruled in favor of Universal, eliminating nearly all the $90 million in damages Honeywell originally claimed it was owed. However, according to Universal, Honeywell could still receive several hundred thousand dollars from Universal. An Oct 6, 2003 ruling declared 2 of the 5 patents invalid. A Dec 9 hearing before a jury will determine whether Universal intentionally infringed on the remaining 3 patents.


Training

Embraer has graduated its first 2 Phenom 100 pilots. Courses were conducted by Embraer CAE Training Services and took place in mid-Nov 2008 at AFW (Alliance, Fort Worth TX). Real estate and mineral executive James Frost and his wife Elizabeth were the first Phenom 100 customers authorized to fly the aircraft. Embraer's general pilot training program will have 2 full-flight simulators built by CAE located in the US, with a third in Burgess Hill, England.

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