Monday, December 21, 2009

City may defer building swap with Eclipse Aerospace

In September 2008, weeds and an empty parking eclipsed the former
pilot training center adjacent to Double Eagle Airport.

The City of Albuquerque and Eclipse Aerospace still haven't worked out a deal on a proposed barter agreement to keep the company operating.

That deal involves swapping an empty pilot-training building the company owns on the west side, in exchange for two rent-free hangar buildings at the Sunport.

While that swap is on tonight's City Council agenda, it is now expected to be deferred.

And, that's partially because Council President Ken Sanchez says it may be a while before Eclipse Aerospace starts making jets again.

"They say they're willing to start right now," Sanchez said, "but looking at the economic climate across America, I just don't foresee that happening. I think that we're still going through tough and difficult times."

Eclipse Aerospace reopened September 4 -- after a Federal Bankruptcy judge accepted their bid to buy the original company's assets.

Sanchez says he still questions the worth of the west side training facility.

The land it sits on what was part of a three-way land exchange between with the New Mexico State Land Office, city and a private rancher -- who has the right to have the land returned to him if manufacturing fails to start on the land, which sits adjacent to Double Eagle Airport II.

Sanchez says he believes Eclipse Aerospace's goal of bringing 435 jobs to the area is a "little optimistic."

"We, now with our own budget crisis, don't have the money to cover those folks even though there's a very handsome three to one federal match we just don't have the $85 million dollars that we would need to continue that program," Sanchez said.

Currently, the group has 60 employees, and group President Mason Holland is telling customers, "We continue to add engineering and mechanic talent needed to support the fleet. Mechanics are being hired to ramp upgrade completions as quickly as possible. Engineering talent is being added to support the upgrades, complete the final design changes, and for continued aircraft improvements."

In a customer communique -- posted on the company's website today -- Holland wrote, "Our ABQ Service Center is now operational and 8 planes are undergoing upgrades including our first to incorporate the EASA configuration changes."

Holland also stated the group's Chicago Service Center "is now delivering the first group of upgraded aircraft."

Updated 8pm

As expected, on an unanimous vote, the city council deferred discussion on a city rental deal to a meeting in January.

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1 comment:

coco said...

Who's the "rancher" that gets the land back? Betcha booty its Black - Mr. Quail Ranch - a cul de sac rancher.