Groundbreaking Set for Eclipse Jet Service Center in N.Y.

Capital Region residents will get their first look at one of a new generation of very light jets when Albuquerque, N.M.-based Eclipse Aviation breaks ground next month for its new Albany factory-service center. The twin-engine jets, which carry up to six passengers and are much smaller and lighter than traditional corporate jets, will be coming to market later this year and in 2007. One Eclipse 500 jet will be flown in for the groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 4 at 10:30 a.m. at Albany International Airport.

The new jet received provisional certification from the Federal Aviation Administration in late July. Eclipse spokesman Andrew Bloom said Tuesday afternoon that complete certification is expected in "the next couple of weeks."

About 2,500 of the jets have been ordered. They sell for about $1.5 million each.

So far, Eclipse plans major factory-service centers in Albany, Albuquerque and Gainesville, Fla. Four other sites haven't been announced yet.

The $8 million project, which includes the building, apron space and about $800,000 of equipment that Albany County Airport Authority will purchase and lease to Eclipse, is expected to be completed next summer.

The authority is financing construction, and Eclipse will lease the building and apron space over 10 years, with options for two five-year extensions. Eclipse would pay the Airport Authority nearly $11.9 million over the 20-year period.

The authority board approved the lease at a meeting Monday night, but the agreement hasn't been signed yet, airport spokesman Doug Myers said.

The project will receive about $1.6 million in state money. Eclipse expects to employ 30 people at the facility by 2010.

Several air-taxi companies have ordered the Eclipse and other very light jets being developed by Adam Aircraft and Brazil's Embraer. Magnum Jet, an air-taxi company with ties to Million Air, which operates aircraft-serving facilities at 32 airports including Albany, is believed to be interested in providing service at Albany International Airport. It expects delivery of its first Adam 700 twin-engine jets in early 2007, and of new Phenom 100 jets by Embraer in early 2009.

The new jets are expected to be popular with business travelers, who can fly directly to their destination without having to go through traditional airport security checkpoints and change planes at hub airports.

Lexington, Mass.-based Linear Air, which has ordered at least 15 of the Eclipse 500 jets, has said it would consider offering air-taxi service in Albany, where its planes likely will be maintained.

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