ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Eclipse Aviation President and CEO Vern Raburn traveled to Russia to meet with federal officials there about a proposed manufacturing plant for the Eclipse 500 very light jet.
A final agreement on locating the plant in the central Russian city of Ulyanovsk is expected within the next few months, the Albuquerque-based company said in a news release Wednesday.
Raburn and Roel Pieper, chairman of Eclipse partner European Technology and Investment Research Center Aviation, or ETIRC Aviation, met with Ulyanovsk Governor Sergei Morozov and visited potential sites for the plant.
A special free trade zone must be established in Ulyanovsk before an Eclipse plant can be located there, a process that has already started and has been ''supported strongly'' by Morozov, the news release said.
Raburn and Pieper visited several viable sites, including the Ulyanovsk-Vostochny International Airport.
The two companies first announced their plans for a manufacturing plant based outside the United States on Jan. 14, when the partnership between Eclipse and ETIRC Aviation was announced. Then, Ulyanovsk was described as the leading contender, though a number of other Russian cities met the company's qualifications.
Eclipse employs about 1,600 workers at its Albuquerque factory and expects to hire 700 more employees here this year.
ETIRC Aviation is the exclusive provider of sales, customer service, maintenance and flight training for the Eclipse 500 in Europe, Russia and the former Soviet republics and Turkey.