Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Eclipse Aerospace eyes lucrative Air Force contract: Mayor Berry vows to lobby for jet maker

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —The U.S. Air Force is looking to upgrade hundreds of planes, and New Mexico's U.S. senators are hoping they go with Albuquerque jet manufacturer Eclipse Aerospace.

Eclipse Aerospace is based at the Albuquerque International Sunport. More than 210 people work there now, but that number could skyrocket if the company is chosen to make jets for the Air Force.

The Air Force is looking to upgrade its fleet of training planes. Right now, pilots fly planes as old as 20-years-old. It first contacted Eclipse last year when the company's CEO said switching to jets would save the Air Force more than $1 billion in the next 10 years.

"It's a great opportunity for our community. This will be a great opportunity for the Air Force. It'll be a great opportunity for taxpayers across the country to save billions of dollars," Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said.

Eclipse spent more than $1.6 million on local suppliers last year.

Berry said he's often in Washington, D.C., and promised to do what he can to lobby for Eclipse.

"There's always opportunities for me to pitch, and I do that on a regular basis and I'll continue to do that," Berry said.

Berry doesn't know when the Air Force will make its decision. 

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