Monday, October 09, 2006

Eclipse Training

On September 28, 2006, Vern Raburn appeared before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation. The full transcript of his message is online:

http://commerce.senate.gov/public/_files/RaburnTestimony_SenateAviationSubcommittee_9_28_060.pdf#search=%22eclipse%20aviation%22

His statements detail a very thorough training program for his Eclipse buyers.

What I don't understand is how the company can exert so much control over a purchaser. A buyer who wants to duck all the screening measures Vern described, can send a qualified professional pilot in to pass the tests, take delivery of the airplane, then fly home and operate as the owner pleases.

And assuming Eclipse can exert almost absolute control over the initial buyer, does this long arm of control extend to the resale market?

The hearing was not about training but rather the potential impact of a swarm of low performance VLJ's on the Nation's air traffic control system. In front of the Committee he claimed most flights would take place between 20,000 and 30,000 ft. Further he stated, "the Eclipse is more than capable of getting out of the way of faster airplanes."

One would think that an important event like Vern appearing before a Senate Subcommittee would be reported on the Eclipse web site. Now it seems they are only reporting upside stories and this may become a downside issue.
Potentially, minimum speeds and minimum rates of climb could be imposed in the upper airspace which could adversely affect Eclipse flight operations..

Vern did testify that owners who failed his screening tests would have their purchase agreements terminated and their deposits returned. Elsewhere, we have heard that even with future performance shortfalls the buyers are locked in their contracts and obligated to take delivery of the airplane or forfeit their deposit.

Now if I am a buyer and want to cancel my position, all I have to do is show up for training, flunk the tests and walk away with my deposit refunded. "Don't throw me into the briar patch Brer Bear!"


Now for your believe it or not moment and those die hard Eclipse followers who want to track every twist and turn of the program, check out this report from a Russian news organization:

http://www.mosnews.com/news/2005/06/14/eclipserussia.shtml

12 comments:

Bambazonke said...

Stan, Good points, when will the Kool Aid Drinking stop. You have to hand it to Vern, he spins a story so well that event he Sentate want to listen to him.

Look this is such a load of bull. Firstly, I have a copy of the Eclipse Purchase Agreement and the owner of the aircraft has not given away his rights to ownership if he doesn't measure up to Vern's extreme training, remember not so long ago he said that his pilots flying the Eclipse would be better trained than airline pilots. How about maintaining the proficiency, how does he address that? I guess if down the road the Eclipse Pilot Police stop a pilot and he does not meet the criteria they write him a check and take his plane away. Awesome what a company where do I get one..

Like I said, this Kool Aid addict is going to have the deliver one of these days and then we will see how good all this hype and BS that he has spouted for years stacks up.

Oh, how many planes have been ejected out of the sausage machine in ABQ? I hear that they are yet to deliver one...

flight guy said...

Good article on a Russian company manufacturing aircraft for Eclipse. I don't know how much truth is in the article, but I will say that if true; quality will be an issue. Based upon my observations of the facilities, the plants have a long way to go to catch up to typical standards of operation.

Secondly, why is Eclipse looking elsewhere for help. They have the Taj Mahal of VLJ operations. Customers are astonished at the grandeur that hundreds of millions of dollars can buy. ABQ is a far cry from operations in Russia. Can they get planes out the door?

Niner Zulu said...

Don't expect to hear anything from Eclipse until NBAA. That's when I expect Daniel Crow to take delivery of Serial #1. What I don't understand is - WHY the heck does he have to wait until NBAA to take delivery? His aircraft was in the hangar at ABQ undergoing final checks before "customer acceptance" over 2 weeks ago. It irks me that Eclipse can't do jack without a lot of fanfare. C'mon - it's as done as it's going to get. Vern! Pull the damn cookies out of the oven and serve them for pitys sake!

VermontFlyer said...

Hi, I've been following this blog for awhile and I'm very impressed. I wanted REAL information on this airplane and after a few hours with Google I got frustrated that most everything published looked the same. Not only did the information look the same, but there was very little real substance. This is the only place on the web I've found that’s different.

I understand that the final verdict on the performance numbers is still out, but I cant get my head around the airplane comparison chart on the eclipse website(I know I know big clue right there).

http://www.eclipseaviation.com/files/pdf/ComparedChart.pdf

They put the Eclipse right next to the mustang...and magically the eclipse beats the mustang in almost every category. It supposedly cruises 30kts faster, can take off in 800 feet less, lands in 400 feet less, has an auto-throttle and electronic circuit breakers where the mustang doesn’t, and 1.5 times the legroom. According to this chart the only significant deficiency is in the un-pressurized baggage category. This same landslide is also stated against the Adam A700.

The whole chart pisses me off because I cant find any other "proof" on the web to contradict (or support for that matter) this chart, so people are just believing it. I'm sure it has won over a few VLJ shoppers already.

flight guy said...

From the AOPA website:http://www.aopa.org/members/nbaa06.html

Buy an Eclipse; get a handheld GPS

With the ink just now dry on its new type certificate, Eclipse Aviation will deliver its first airplane to a customer next week. He'll have to bring it back in a few weeks for some mods, though. Certification on several elements are not yet complete. To meet its range requirements of 1,125 nm with IFR reserves, the company is increasing the size of its wing-tip fuel tanks to 24 gallons per side. To reduce drag and help it meet the Eclipse 500's target cruise speed of 370 knots, the company is redesigning the "bullet" at the top of the vertical tail and increasing its chord. Wheel fairings and a few other minor changes will also help increase the speed. Several parts of the Avio avionics system, including the moving map, are also not yet functional. Any aircraft delivered between now and certification of these changes will be upgraded at no cost to the customer. Those taking deliveries soon will get a Garmin GPSMAP 496 handheld GPS to serve as the moving map until the installed system if fully functional. CEO Vern Raburn noted that vendor and supply chain problems are the company's biggest challenges in producing aircraft in volume. Nonetheless, it expects to be producing two aircraft a day by the end of 2007, wicking away at that order backlog of 2,500 aircraft worth some $3 billion.

My comments--- On top of the avionic integration, the tip tanks keep getting larger and the fairing mods are to reduce drag in order to reach 370 knots. Makes me wonder what people actually think they are buying is not what exists?

Stan Blankenship said...

bambazonke,

Eclipse Pilot Police; what an idea. Every manufacturer should have such a department.

9Z,

This whole program is media driven and has been from day one. They need to keep the current and future investors pumped up, need to keep the supply chain on board.

vermontflyer,

Thanks for the kind words.

I still doubt many of the Eclipse claims for performance so I never put much stock in their comparison chart. One could bring up the old cliche, figures don't lie, but ...

flight guy,

The two per day target was also mentioned in a Convention News article:

http://www.ainonline.com/Publications/nbaa/NBAA_06/index.htm

I put the index up because there is other good info like, Cirrus delaying announcement of their jet. While Klapmeier gave good reasons for the delay, the tragic accident in NYC meant it was the wrong time for such news.

Convention News provides pretty good coverage of the NBAA, and they will have much more in the next couple of days. As I recall, you are a subscriber and probably get more info than we moochers get.

From what we hear, the performance is what ever the airplane can do and the buyers by not opting out last summer can't back out and get their deposits back. They still have the option of taking delivery and reselling at a higher price.

Niner Zulu said...

As of today, there are 25 Eclipse positions being offered on Controller, plus 4 fractional offerings. One seller has 19 positions on his website, not all of which are on Controller online, so the total number of aircraft being offered into the market is now somewhere between 30 and 40, plus those being offered in the Elipse forum (which only position-holders can access).

What does this mean? Well, if product isn't moving now when hype is at it's highest point ever, what is going to happen when you buy one and then try to sell it as a used aircraft into a market flooded with new and better product? And it's not just Eclipse you'd be competing with - there's Cessna, Piper, Honda, Diamond, Adam, Embraer and a whole bunch of new ones yet to be announced.

Bambazonke may not have been too far off when he threw out the $800,000 figure for a resale Eclipse.

Stan Blankenship said...

9Z,

When there are more sellers than buyers, the buyers set the price. Correct me if I am wrong, but most speculators want to pocket a half-million premium on each position. As the delivery date approaches, the premium may go down.

They are busy packing the exhibits in Orlando and the first Eclipse delivery has yet to occur. The biggest surprise for me was the lack of Eclipse hype. Could this mean there is a new Vern out there?

flight guy said...

There is nothing left to hype. The plane is what it is. They are officially certified. The information is out now about the inadequacy of the aircraft.

Vern could have talked about how far beyond he is in the production delivery schedule. He could talk about how he is costing the air taxi providers money every day that they are not flying. He could talk about the industry that has not embraced the air taxi as originally hyped as the paradigm shifter in aviation. Of course, he had nothing to talk about at NBAA they are no where close to being finished with the program. Eclipse is not meeting their or their customer expectations.

Oh ya, how would you like to be a speculative position holder, whom in reality invested in Eclipse, who can't sell at a profit. Vern could have talked about that also. Just ask Aviace their thoughts.

Stan Blankenship said...

flight guy,

Your comments sounds like the brutal truth to me.

You left out the suppliers who geared up for 100 units in 2006, 1,000 in 2007 and 2,000 in 2,008.

Also left out, the investors who may have been expecting to see some returns, but now may be facing more investment to protect their original ante.

flight guy said...

Stan,

You are definitely correct about the suppliers. In my opinion, they have the worst part of the deal.

When taking your MBA, do you remember the concept--"Winners Curse?" In my opinion, those suppliers who were cut were the lucky ones.

Stan Blankenship said...

flight guy.

Had never heard of the "winners curse" but it fits the suppliers predicament.

Your comments on "it is what it is" will be the theme of the next post. Have a bit more research to do before it goes up.