Saturday, October 21, 2006

Watching the Eclipse - Performance

This is the first in a series of topics that will be revisited now that the Eclipse is certified and deliveries are about to commence.

Actual performance for the Eclipse is not what was claimed a year ago and is misrepresented as it is being portrayed today.

For most of owner-operators, they could probably care less. They are purchasing a jet for a million dollars, give or take some change; a very good buy, in fact a steal when you consider it will cost the company probably closer to $1.5 mil to build.

Most trips will be under 500 miles. The trip to Orlando next summer will require an extra stop, so what? The kids will want to stretch their legs a bit and strut their stuff around pop's new jet!

These guys have been telling everyone for years about the jet they have on order. Every success of Vern's, was their success as well. So it flies 50 knots slower, cruises in the low 30's and the range is several hundred miles less than expected. So what?

It is still a jet and for many it will fulfill their dreams of being jet pilots. "Next year our team has games at Ole Miss and Tennessee. Our biggest customer is a fellow alumni so we can pick he and his wife up and head for the games. We're going to have some fun and the airplane will make our business travel easier as well."

More power to you future Eclipse owners, go and enjoy it!

Why then is performance important? It is a matter of credibility for the company. For instance, statements continue to the effect, "you can cruise at 41,000 ft and top speed is 370 kts." This statement does not mean cruise 370 kts at 41,000 ft.

Eclipse says you can climb to 35,000 ft in 19 minutes. At gross weight or with one pilot and minimum fuel?

Sooner of later the true numbers are going to surface. Better the company be known for producing a low performing jet than a company that tried to conceal the fact the airplane is a low performer.

If you take issue with this conclusion, just recall Vern's, Sept 28 statement before the Senate Subcommittee, "the Eclipse is more than capable of getting out of the way of faster airplanes."

1 comment:

SpeakTest said...

Certainly you can rag on Eclipse's credibility all you want. Obviously they had a huge setback when the Williams engine didn't pan out. They probably should have scrapped the program and started from scratch (if they could get the money). Trying to grow the airframe on short notice makes for a lot of compromises. As you noted earlier, they decided to keep the old wing and thus had to add tip-tanks to get close to the promised range. I think they were also a little over-optimistic about their drag assumptions from the beginning.

Getting accurate info from an airframer on a new product seems next to impossible. The mustang certified weeks ago, but if you ask a salesrep for a copy of the POH today, you won't get it. Try getting info from Adam!

Can you blame Eclipse for talking about their ceiling and their top speed in the same breath? Any savvy customer will know that you don't get those together. My sources suggest that the Eclipse will climb to FL350 in 19min on an ISA day if it starts ~700lbs below MTOW. Starting at MTOW will take 23min. Does 4 minutes really matter? I am more interested in how these little jets will handle at FL410? The air gets really thin up there, and the Rate of Climb approaches zero if it gets warm out. Good thing the autopilots all have FLCH mode.