Now that the drama regarding Eclipse Aviation Corporation bankruptcy has been resolved, with Eclipse Aerospace winning the bid for $40M (or, well $20M plus promises to Al Mann and others, and discounting the $10M that Al Mann put in himself, leaving $10M, of which around half was borrowed, we can conclude that the fabulous assets of EAC (and none of the even more fabulous liabilities) were "locked up" for about $5M plus another $5M OPM (other people's money). Anyone think a $5M+ player is going to restart production with those kind of "deep pockets"? I think there's two probabilities:
1) No How
2) No Way
IMHO: They're gonna flip that sucker like a pancake!
From the press releases (admittedly, perhaps a bit, "Verntastic"), the facilities and infrastructure, and inventory and IP, were all substantial, worth MUCH more than $5M or $10M. For comparison, Cessna paid $26M for Columbia, a company with a very nice, but MUCH lower price point than the Eclipse (at least, a sustainable price point). That was during the "boom" times; but with all probability, there's going to be another "boom" time again, as our investigation of the past five business cycles, over the past 40 years showed.And when it comes, the Eclipse facility will be a hot commodity- I'd figure, with IP and what will be by then, a fully functioning parts and service network. I'd say to the tune of $100M or more.
And until then, Eclipse Aerospace wins, and the customers and supplier base wins, with parts and service support. NewCo might even make some bucks selling off excess facilities. Or subcontracting bits and pieces for other OEMs (aviation or non-aviation related) in lieu of manufacturing restart up. And make some bucks on the training program. And some bucks on the DayJet fleet. And some bucks on the assembly line articles- if they can be finished and delivered, even without PC (using individual FAA inspection- there's not all that many of them). And make some bucks either selling or licensing the EA400 Single Engine Jet (Con-Jet). For that matter, even licensing the EA500, without ever restarting production in ABQ.
Maybe some bucks in licensing the Phoestrex patent? (If the legal squable- yes, ANOTHER Eclipse OldCo legal squabble, has been patched up with the patent holders- see Dave Ivedorne's excellent post, on March 25, 2009, 2:54 PM). Although OldCo claimed it patented Monday and sunrises, there is some legal dispute in those regards as well. (I think a patent for Friday afternoon would be more marketable than the one for Monday morning though).
Or doing some sort of contract FSW for a military program or two?
I for one, think some foreign interests might pursue Eclipse, either license or the entire factory; Piper was bought by Imprimis, based in Brunei. (Apparently, for $20M in 1998+ $35M in 2003 + $31M profit = $86M. According to GAMA; in FY 2008, Piper delivered 216 pistons, and 52 turbines, Eclipse delivered 161 aircraft- in the first 8 months or so- I suspect Eclipse "out billed" Piper, and it would have been even more so if EAC hadn't stalled in the last part of the year).
And Emivest of Dubai owns the old (VERY old now) SJ30 program (nie, Sino-Swearingen SJ30; arguably/possibly, the only GA story rivaling Eclipse for weirdness).
How interested were the Russians? Since Eclipse denied (for a while anyway) any Russian connection, I figure just the opposite was true, to some extent. And remember, oil prices, on which the Russian boom was based, were over $125/barrel in the heady times of initial ETIRC involvement, but plummeted to below $50/barrel, when the time came to close the deal.
How interested were the Chinese? Definitely some courtship, at least contemplated. ("AIN has been in contact with a person who said he represents a Chinese company interested in bidding on the Eclipse assets, but he would not reveal any details by the time this article was published. He also would not confirm if he represents China Commercial Aircraft, which is interested in bidding on Eclipse’s assets, according to a March 17 article in the Albuquerque Journal." For those not following the Chinese aviation industry, there has been a shakeout/re-organization in progress, actually, for the last six months or so- which might have, er, dare I say- disrupted- plans for Chinese involvement. As might engine and avionics technology export concerns, etc. By sitting on the assets, EAC-NewCo might be, literally, buying time, for these details to be worked out. (The blog reported the FBI was asking questions some months back, presumably related to technology export concerns, with an undisclosed suitor).
And per the article about Columbia Aircraft above, they were owned by an affiliate of the Malaysian government.
How about Fuji Heavy Industries- they are doing the FSW wing assembly, with tooling and technology shipped from Albuquerque to Japan- maybe they'd be interested in buying the rest of the tooling and IP for an EA500 final assembly line in Japan? (Or just keeping in in New Mexico, for ease of dealing with a Production Certificate).
And I'm not arguing that production of the EA500 won't restart, and not even that it won't restart in ABQ- I think it very well might. (And personally, I hope so- on both accounts).
But I just don't see it happening with the current team that took months scraping together $5-10M. It will be a deep pockets adventure ($100-200M, if the ETIRC figures used in 2008 are a reasonable guide).
Could the current owners restart production? Possibly. But why would they want to, if they can "flip" the company for a 500-1000% return in a couple of years? And make a profit in the mean time, by providing parts and service.
Personally, I think they've made a very smart move by acquiring the assets to Eclipse. If the plane turns out to be a turkey, they make a mint by providing engineering, service, and parts. On the other hand, if turns out to be a great airplane, that just enhances the market value of the production facilities, once the larger economy improves in a year or two. Which is about the time it will take to work through the Dayjet fleet and customer-delivered rework.
So I think they're pretty smart guys (and seemingly, pretty honest guys too). My bet is they are smart enough to be aware of the adage;
"Q: How do you make a small fortune in aviation?"
"A: By starting with a large one."
I think there is nowhere that this is more true than in the manufacturing end of aviation.
Of course, priorities change, when working with OPM (other people's money). As we have well seen.
Still, I'd buy stock in Spatula City!