“"I've got a list of corporations that have gotten out of their airplanes [because of criticism from politicians]. It is the stupidest thing I've ever seen. When you look at the time and cost savings; it does not make sense not to fly [privately]. You can't let public perception interfere with your business decision to fly. It either is a good business decision or it isn't."”
Eclipse auction fuels instant gratification
Already a symbol of a revolution in personal aircraft, Albuquerque-based very light jet maker Eclipse Aviation is setting out to change how people buy airplanes. Fulfilling a promise made seven years ago-long before the first Eclipse 500 rolled off the assembly line-the company recently put one of its early production aircraft on the Internet auction block, using technology from eBay.
The auction of serial number 000038 was open only to potential customers who had placed $5,000 refundable deposits. (Some of those deposits had been placed between 2000 and 2002 and had been accruing "Eclipse Dollars"-to be deducted from the amount of a winning bid-at the rate of 1,000 per month.)
While the initial offering price for the Eclipse 500 was $995,000, low serial numbers have been changing hands at upwards of $1.6 million. As such, bidders could not have been expecting a bargain. Bidding for number 000038 began at $1,633,945 (95 percent of the aircraft's current invoice price plus optional equipment).
Fourteen bids later, the VLJ sold for $1,833,945 to Morten Wagner, the 35-year-old Danish owner of a European online dating service. For that price, Wagner got an Eclipse 500 LX edition; his tuition in the manufacturer's Type Rating Pilot Training program; and the right to jump to the head of the line of position holders and receive immediate delivery of the aircraft.
For Wagner, who currently flies a Cirrus SR22, that last benefit was the most important factor spurring his bidding. "Waiting for three years? I would do it if I had to," he told BJT, "but if I can grab one now, I would much rather have it." Wagner said he would have bid as much as $1.9 million for the aircraft, which he plans to fly home in January, after he is trained and the Eclipse receives its European avionics upgrades.