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Eclipse Aviation Gets $205M To Build Russian Plant

Company said it secured financing Tuesday to build a manufacturing plant in Russia, confident that European demand will increase for the Eclipse light jet.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Eclipse Aviation said Tuesday it has secured $205 million to build a manufacturing plant in Russia, confident that European demand will increase for the company's light jet.

Eclipse said in a news release the Russian state bank, Vnesheconombank, which is chaired by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, approved construction of a factory in Ulyanovsk to assemble the six-passenger, twin-engine Eclipse 500.

Vnesheconombank plans to finance the European project in full, according to Eclipse. The plant is expected to be operating by 2010. VEB and the Ulyanovsk region administration will be among the shareholders.

"Obtaining this approval and financing is an enormous step forward in our efforts to globalize the Eclipse 500 and create a highly competitive worldwide business model," Eclipse chief executive Roel Pieper said.

The announcement comes days after Eclipse downplayed the demise of its largest United States customer. Florida-based air taxi operator DayJet Corp. ceased passenger services and eliminated most of its employees last week.

Eclipse also has been involved in federal hearings where government watchdogs claim the Federal Aviation Administration awarded certification despite problems with the jet's design and production.

Eclipse has maintained the aircraft is safe.

Eclipse said it has confirmed that export of its manufacturing components to Russia complies with United States and Canadian export regulations.

The Russian plant is projected to produce 800 jets annually. Production at Eclipse headquarters in Albuquerque is expected to continue in full.

The company said its new facility will allow Eclipse and European Technology and Investment Research Center Aviation to meet growing demand for the Eclipse 500 in Europe, Russia and Turkey.

Pieper is chairman of ETIRC Aviation, which holds exclusive rights to sales, customer service, maintenance support and flight training for the Eclipse 500 in Europe, Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Turkey.

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