Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Tale of Two Airplanes

www.flightaware.com provides aviation tracking for IFR flights within the United States. After a free sign-up, enter a tail number or an airline flight number, it will display all of the flights for the past 120 days. Click on a flight, then the (track log). The program will display, minute-by-minute position (lat-lon), speed and altitude.

Aircraft owners can opt out of the system and block all reports for their aircraft which Eclipse has obviously done. But six of their flights since the First of July have passed through the filters and the data is on the web (at least until Eclipse reads this post):

Here are the flight profiles:

N502EA
July 1, 2006 KABQ - KSJT
Albuquerque to San Angelo, Texas 378 nm
Flight plan cruise speed - 275 kts
1 hour 32 min en route
Time to climb - 18 min
Cruise altitude - 27,000 ft
Max cruise speed - 289 kts

N502EA
July 17, 2006 KBRO - KMAF
Brownsville, Texas to Midland, Texas 440 nm
Flight plan cruise speed - 250 kts
1 hour 37 min en route
Time to climb - 22 min
Cruise altitude - 28,000 ft
Max cruise speed - 331 kts

N502EA
July 17, 2006 KMAF - KABQ
Midland, Texas to Albuquerque 288 nm
Flight plan cruise speed - 250 kts
1 hour 12 min en route
Time to climb - 25 min with 5 min at FL 240
Cruise altitude - 28,000 ft
Max cruise speed - 321 kts

N505EA
July 22, 2006 KABQ - KICT
Albuquerque to Wichita, Kansas 470 nm
Flight plan cruise speed - 250 kts
1 hour 59 minutes en route
Time to climb - 21 min
Cruise Altitude - 27,000 ft
Max cruise speed - 281 kts

N505EA
July 22, 2006 KICT - KABQ
Wichita, Kansas to Albuquerque 470 nm
Flight plan cruise speed - 250 kts
1 hour 51 min en route
Time to climb - 20 min
Cruise altitude - 28,000 ft
Max cruise speed - 330 kts

N506EA
July 23, 2006 KDSM - KOSH
Des Moines, Iowa to Oshkosh, Wisconsin 269 nm
Flight plan cruise speed 250 kts
1 hour 5 min en route
Time to climb - 17 min
Cruise altitude - 23,000 ft
Max cruise speed - 310 kts

Once this poor bird gets above FL 250, it is about out of climb. Compare the operational numbers with the Eclipse published numbers:

"A 41,000 ft ceiling avoids most severe weather"
Time to climb to 35,000 ft - 19 min
Cruise speed - 370 kts

Excuse me Vern, are you building one airplane and selling another?





19 comments:

hrr said...

Hey, Stan,
Check out an old press release from Eclipse's website. This one dates back a few years. I found it interesting reading...
http://www.eclipseaviation.com/index.php?option=com_newsroom&task=viewarticle&id=105&Itemid=347

hrr said...

Looks like it got cut off. I'll put in some spaces.
http://www.eclipseaviation.com/index.php?option=com_newsroom&task=
viewarticle&id=105&Itemid=347

flight guy said...

Are there "lemon laws" for aircraft? Vern sounds like a used car salesman in more ways than one. From the time to climb and cruise numbers,it appears there may be a few disgruntled buyers or atleast when the Eclipse 500 eventually gets delivered.

Please don't kick the tires!!!!

Griper said...

The eclipse certainly wouldn't be the first product entry that didn't really meet the performance numbers in realistic use situations. But even so, isn't it risky to draw these kind of conclusions from such limited data?

Stan Blankenship said...

griper,

These are the first hard numbers that I have seen. They support what has been suspected for a long time.

Remember the comment in an early post that no writer was able to report flying above FL 320.

Why on six different flights with three different airplanes, would partial power be used on climb all the way to the top?

There was no intention to draw a conclusion, only ask the question, is the airplane Vern talks about the same as the one they have flown for over 2,000 hours?

Keep in mind, there is a huge difference in climbing to 41,000 ft vs 30,000. You either need more power or more wing. And the extra 50 lbs thrust per engine that flight guy suggested might be available is probably not enough to make much difference.

Stan Blankenship said...

hrr,

Your links don't work for me.

Releases are easy to find on the Eclipse web site if you know the year and month.

Stan Blankenship said...

flight guy,

Working on the next post, you almost nailed the subject.

It looks like you accessed the flightaware data. The six profiles can be saved for future reference. I don't expect them to be available come noon on Tuesday.

flight guy said...

Stan,

I did check out the profiles on flightaware. I did not mention it earlier, however griper brought it up. The profiles illustrate a couple of things graphically and in detail. The only times that a plane approaches 370 knots would be during a descent. Also, for a plane model to be soon certified to FL 410, the crews spent an aweful lot of time in the storm fronts or trying to scud run around the fronts. Lastly, I noticed on a few occasions, the crew had jockeyed toward lower altitudes while at cruise to pick up speed before asscending to the higher cruise altitude. (APPROX. FL 250-280)

Stan does a good job of providing key pieces of lacking information from Eclipse. As a reader, we have to decide how to digest the information and draw our on conclusions.

Stan,

FYI, sheer brilliance to wait until close of business on Friday to prevent Eclipse from putting the kabash to the profiles. This would not be the first time that negative web articles or information about Eclipse mysteriously disappeared. I guess money and sponsorship dollars do create several allies.

Stan Blankenship said...

flight guy,

Enjoy it while you can, they might make me disappear as well.

Griper said...

Are you speaking of some particular activity Stan?

Stan Blankenship said...

There is $700 million and reputations at stake, you figure.

This is not a school yard game.

hrr said...

Stan,
It was February, 2001 in AOPA Pilot. "An Inside Look at Eclipse"

hrr said...

Stan,
It was February, 2001 in AOPA Pilot. "An Inside Look at Eclipse"

baron95 said...

It is clear that a jet that goes from 4,700 lbs and 770-lb engines to almost 6,000 lbs and 900 lb engines, is going the wrong way and is at a serious risk to under-deliver on promises.

At US$1.5M there is NO CHANCE to sell/deliver 1,000 units per year. None. Can they do 250/year? Possibly, simply for the fact that that is about the price of a Beech baron G58 with like equipment and it is $1M cheaper than the Mustang and $3M cheaper than the CJ1+ the next two steps up the entry level jet ladder for the foreseable future.

I think the EA500 will be a 1,000 nm, 330 kts at 33,000 ft airplane. It's nearest competitors will be the TBM850 turboprop (about as fast, similar fuel burn, more expensive, better range, better payload) and the Mustang (faster, longer range, more expensive, higher fuel burns).

Even if it delivered only 300Kts at 28,000 ft and 900 nm range, it would still be a jet and 100 kts faster than the similar priced Baron G58.

So there will be a market for it. It is just no a 1,000 unit/year market. 250 maybe.

Can Eclipse make money on 250 planes/year? Yes, if they raise prices by about $250K-$500K per plane.

Can the investors make money? That remains to be seen.

Her is an idea. Eclipse shoudl buy Cirrus and/or Diamons or vice-versa. That combination could probably work and dominate the GA market.

There are a lot o zombies like Mooney in the GA market that need to be burried once and for all.

flight guy said...

For comparison, try entering tail number N510KS and N510CE into flightaware.

It illustrates that the Mustang is hitting it's marks on altitude with the production conforming aircraft. Speed may be lacking somewhat, but 330-350 knts is what you would expect from Cessna. Also, note that the Mustang is flying around the clock for F&R testing. Either Eclipse is not flying, or they purged some flights and not others for their Osh Kosh plane and F&R vehicle.

Stan Blankenship said...

Baron,

I agree completely with everything you write except for the mergers.

It would be tough to re-locate one to the other though not impossible. It must be hard to build and fly airplanes during the very long winter in Duluth. Albuquerque would probably look pretty good to those folks about February 6th.

Stan Blankenship said...

flight guy,

The Mustang's F&R logs are really impressive. I spent several hours this weekend trying to find this information without success.

Thanks again.

baron95 said...

Some comments regarding the mergers (though I don't want to hijack the thread).

1 - Moving may not be needed. You can combine marketing, sales, design, flight test, certification, support in one location, while still keeping separate production facilities.

2 - Look at Diamond - designed/certified in Europe, built in Canada. No problem. Look at Mooney - packed up and moved a few times. Look at Cessna - builds Mustng parts in Wichita, assembles in Independance (I know much closer).

3 - I think what Eclipse needs is to have some scale and moeny coming in (e.g SR20/22 production and backlog) while they get the EA500 out. Cirrus Klapmeyer wants a jet. The two CEOs all came from hi-tech industry and speak the same language "lets shake up the GA industry".

Who knows - maybe it can work.

Having said that - Eclipse needs to work 100% on (in this order):

a - finish certification
b - come clean on the performance deficits.
c - start shipping planes.
d - have impecable customer support
e - start working on EA500 version 2 to correct the performance deficits.

I just fear that while they are wasting energy trying to over-hype, conceal the obvious truth, and the full-time job of keeping investors from pulling the plug they won't succeed.

Oh, do you think that additional financing comes without strings and problems? It doesn't. You can bet there are all sorts of corporate performance conditions attached to those loans.

Vern is being tought a lesson in humility. Lets hope he learns it.

Stan Blankenship said...

Baron,

You can hijack the tread anytime. you give us a different perspective on certain issues and valid observations on others.