Aeris Aviation, Eclipse Aerospace's sole European distributor, is planning to launch a shared ownership scheme in the third quarter to invigorate the market for the EA500 series of very light jets across the region.
The UK-headquartered company received its first aircraft - a Total Eclipse - in February and began a three-month regional demonstration tour of the VLJ late last month.
Aeris founder and chief executive David Hayman says the programme is designed to reduce the cost and burden of aircraft ownership. "We will be a management company proving the pilots, hangarage, maintenance, fuel etc," says Hayman. "Our aim is to provide trouble-free flying on the Total Eclipse and the new EA550, which is earmarked for US certification in July and European approval a year later."
Each of the twin-engined, five-seat jets will be split into shares of no less than an eighth of the asking price, Hayman says. For example, a quarter share of a $2.85 million EA550 will be around $712,000. Each owner will be allocated 90 days use a year of the aircraft - with a minimum of 50h of flying time at around £1,200 per hour paid in advance. The fee does not include euro control charges and landing fees.
"The aircraft will be owned and operated privately. We are not interested in sub-chartering, we will keep it simple," Hayman says,
He is confident the programme will appeal to corporations and high net worth individuals who see the advantages of private jet travel but are reluctant to purchase an aircraft outright "Many people would love to have access to a jet but they cannot justify the $3 million price tag [of an EA550]. When the price is around $750,000, it is a lot more appealing."
Hayman says the European demonstration tour is already drawing a number of potential leads for the programme. "We will aim to place our owners in the same geographical region, from Sweden to the Czech Republic. We hope to build a good network," he says.
Hayman admits the Eclipse brand has been damaged by the high-profile collapse of the previous owner, Eclipse Aviation, in 2008. "The reputation of the Eclipse has suffered in Europe [home to around 20 of the VLJs]," he says. "There is nothing wrong with the aircraft, it was just a poorly run company. Things are completely different with the new owners - the company is completely debt free and well funded. We just have to keep pushing this message. It's early days, but we are getting there."