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Investors clear growth path for Eclipse and Diamond
Investors clear growth path for Eclipse and Diamond

Light jet manufacturers Eclipse Aviation and Diamond Aircraft are forging ahead with their expansion and development plans following multi-million dollar injections of investment in their respective Eclipse 500 and D-Jet programmes.

The fortunes of the US- and Austria-headquartered companies are in contrast to fellow manufacturer Adam Aircraft which has been forced to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after failing to secure adequate investment to continue producing the A500 piston twin and to earn certification for the A700 very light jet this year.

Diamond´s Canadian operation has clinched a C $ 19.6 million ( $ 19.2 million) "repayable investment" from the Canadian government. This paves the way for the company to manufacture the $ 1.4 million, five-seat D-Jet personal jet at the London, Ontario-based facility which is home to D-Jet research and development and DA20, DA40 and DA42 piston aircraft production. Diamond, which already has more than 300 orders for the all-composite aircraft, says "the investment will enable the company to complete the final development, flight testing and certification of the D-JET [scheduled for the third quarter] and to complete its transition to production".Eclipse and European Technology and Investment Research Center (ETIRC) Aviation, its exclusive sales and support company for eastern and western Europe, Russia, the CIS and Turkey, are establishing the first Eclipse 500 VLJ manufacturing facility outside the USA in Ulyanovsk, Russia, 900km (560 miles) east of Moscow.

ETIRC Aviation´s parent ETRIC came to the rescue of Eclipse last month infusing $ 100 million of equity in the struggling manufacturer in which it now owns a 51% stake. This investment also secured ETIRC the right to establish local assembly of the Eclipse 500.

The new manufacturing facility will be built at the Aviastar Aircraft complex in Ulyanovsk, with construction costs estimated at 1.8 billion roubles ( $ 74 million). Investment in the Russian operation is set at around 5 billion roubles. The first Russian-assembled VLJ is due to roll off the production line in the middle of next year, and production of around 800 aircraft annually is expected in 2011.

Meanwhile, a trustee of Adam Aircraft, Jeffrey Weinman, anticipates that the company´s assets could soon be acquired by another company. "There has been significant interest demonstrated and I would anticipate that the company´s assets will be sold or auctioned within 30 days," he says. Adam suspended operations on 11 February, laying off all of its 800 employees.


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