Eclipse workers back on job after being sent home

Eclipse Aviation Corp. workers returned this morning to their hanger at Albany International Airport
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Eclipse Aviation Corp. workers returned this morning to their hanger at Albany International Airport a day after the troubled jet manufacturer sent them home.

Deepening worries over its viability, Eclipse surprised officials at the airport Thursday when it dismissed its employees there around noon. The company, which employs about 24 locally, also dismissed hundreds of people at its production plant in Albuquerque, N.M., on Thursday.

“We’re in a little area of the unknown,” said John O’Donnell, Albany International Airport’s chief executive officer .

The dismissals came only 10 months after Eclipse opened its $8 million service facility at Albany International Airport. Other aviation companies have already expressed interest in occupying the hanger the company leases from the airport, O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell said he talked Thursday with an Eclipse executive, who assured him the manufacturer has the “full intention of continuing operations.” By this morning, O’Donnell said some workers had returned to the hanger where they maintain Eclipse 500 Very Light Jets. He said five cars were parked outside the hanger and jets were inside.

The airport CEO speculated the dismissals might be tied to Eclipse’s attempts to garner more funding. In recent weeks, the company has been dogged by speculation that it is bankruptcy bound.

Newtown, Conn.-based Forecast International last month issued a report saying it expects production of the Eclipse 500 to cease during the first quarter of 2009. It based that forecast on the assumption Eclipse will not be able to attract new investments needed to keep operations running.

An Eclipse spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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