Saturday, October 28, 2006

What Did They Know and When Did They Know It?

This post was revised November 14 after receipt of weight and moment arms from flightfollowing. While I am not sure of the source of these numbers, they paint a more favorable view of the CG problems for the Eclipse airplane.

With four 190 lb occupants in the front four seats and fuel to bring the A/C up to max TO weight, the airplane is outside the forward envelope. Not good, but not as bad as I thought. If the occupants average 180 lbs, then the CG is in the envelope.

Extending the sloped lines on the CG envelope shown on the type data sheet up to the 5,920 lb weight Eclipse was predicting, and the CG travel would be zero, so I suspect the FAA may have limited the gross to 5,760 lbs where there was at least 2.5 inches of travel.

Flightfollowing's information shows a 3,700 lb empty weight. This empty weight, with the TCDS max TO weight and new fuel number shows 1) a reduction of cabin payload with full fuel from 724 lbs to 576 lbs and 2) a reduction of 162 lbs of fuel.

The question remains, what did they know and when did they know they had further reductions in performance and utility?

The first of October when the airplane was certified or in June when we were told that all testing was done and that software development was the only issue holding up certification?

Eclipse should have known about this situation last June. If there was an easy fix, engineering had five months to correct the problem. Obviously, it didn't happen!


I can't help contrast the Eclipse program with the Mustang. Several months ago, Cessna transferred most of the Mustang engineers to other programs. But then, Cessna got the airplane right the first time.

Eclipse did not get the airplane right; too small of wing, insufficient fuel, insufficient thrust and a flawed basic design. Eclipse's web site show openings for numerous engineers, they still have a ways to go.

Nearly every performance target has been missed, costs are up, delivery dates are missed, aviation's self-anointed Messiah has turned into a false prophet.

This is a failed project, it just hasn't failed yet! Money, not a successful design is keeping it alive.

36 comments:

flight guy said...

How can the likes of DayJet and other airtaxi wannabe's sit silently when they cannot load the planes with bodies? This is a complete disaster for these guys.

This shows a total lack of basic design ability. There was plenty of time to correct these issues after the alleged thrust problems from Williams. There were years of inactivity on the airframe. They were supposedly ready to certify when the decision was made to terminate Williams' contract. Eclipse is still working avionics and airframe issues 4 years later. Sounds like Eclipse needed a goat to buy time.

Pick a museum, the Eclipse 500 may be hanging in the rafters pretty soon. It may be known as the most costly aviation flop in history.

flightfollowing said...

You seem to be jumping to conclusions with very little data or information about these CG 'issues'. Eclipse is giving people demo rides with full cabins. You might need to wait until you actually have cg arms for such things as fuel and seats and actually calculate real configurations.

Stan Blankenship said...

flightfollowing,

Good input to the discussion. Are they flying with four, five or six on board? Is the airplane at gross weight for takeoff?

The CG envelope is 7.6 inches wide with a 4,900 lb takeoff weight.

And you are correct, I am jumping to conclusions with very limited data, but I am quite sure 2.5 inches of travel is not enough for this airplane.

At some point, Eclipse will have to reconcile the discrepancies between the published data and what has been certified to date. We may get more information on their plans to widen the CG envelope then.

Niner Zulu said...

I find it difficult to believe that a blunder of this magnitude could have been made and not corrected during the course of the Eclipse's development. The FAA surely must have seen the CG data and if it were a big issue I would think that everyone would know about it by now.

Stan Blankenship said...

9Z,

The 7.6 inch range of CG travel may have been the target range for all weights up to 5,920 lbs.

But during flight test the front corner was truncated above 4,910 lbs, the aft corner truncated above 5,509 lbs.

An experienced flight test engineer could probably take one look at the CG envelope, another look at the airplane and tell us the probable reason the envelope was drawn in.

The front truncation may be due to something like insufficient elevator power to reach the stall speed with the gear and flaps down while pulling g's.

The aft, longitudinal stability or damping the famous phugoid at heavier weights.

There are a lot of conditions that get wrung out, some are forward CG critical, some aft, but all get checked.

If we knew what caused the specific limitation, then we would have a better idea what might be required to make a fix.

If you extrapolate the forward and aft limits up to the advertised 5,920 lb max takeoff weight, the range of CG travel is about zero. So the FAA may have made Eclipse back the takeoff weight to 5,760 lbs where there was at least 2.5 inches of travel.

Stan Blankenship said...

flightfollowing,

One more thought.

In the year 2000 when the Eclipse basic design was conceived, the projected max takeoff weight was 4,700 lbs.

In 2003, the weight grew to 5,640 lbs with only small changes to the basic configuration.

Certified MTOW is 5,720 lbs, 22% heavier but the horizontal tail did not grow 22% nor did they lengthen the tailcone to make the tail more effective.

Probably got the aerodynamics right for a 4,900 lb airplane...got problems trying to push it to 5,760 lbs.

Bambazonke said...

This is not the first blunder don't forget that Eclipse got to the point of asking for a Provisional Type Certificate before they bothered to consult the requirements for wing tip tanks, they thought you could have plastic wing tips, only to find the requirements called for metal tip tanks.

The problem we are seeing here is brought about by a charasmatic and demmanding CEO who has money behind him and thinks that he is master of the universe. KKA and Rick Adam do not rule by consensus or by following the advice of others. Neither of them are Propulsion Engineers, Aeronautical Engineers or possess any other discipline that would be needed to build a plane. They bully their way through life with their check books and the result is a botched up aircraft like the Eclipse and the Adam. Anyone like to guess what the unusable fuel on the Adam 500 is? How about 50 gallons! This is a plane that has also consumed tons of money, to be certified with a restriction such as no single pilot IFR without the autopilot engaged...

My spies in NM tell me there is still no Pilot Training commenced although there is a big building with a flashy sign saying Eclipse Pilot Training Center, and still no delivery... C'mon KKA, try and make one of your deadlines...

flight guy said...

Another deadline that hasn't been met, but forgotten about was flight into known icing. That was scheduled for September.

I don't know if Eclipse is concerned, but Cessna had to add de-icing boots on the vertical tail to certify. That was only discovered during development and cert flight tests.

Stan Blankenship said...

bambazonke,

50 gallons of unusable fuel? Had to check that one myself.

Perhaps the 30 crews for the airplanes Eclipse intends to deliver this year are in Denver at United's Training Center.

flightguy,

I am not sure Cessna hit all their markers for the Mustang. As I recall, the target MTOW was 8,000 lbs and the certified MTOW is 8,635 lbs.

Niner Zulu said...

Assuming the factory works out all of the bugs and starts making deliveries - it will be interesting to see what happens when owners start shopping for insurance. My agent said a lot of insurers are looking at the caliber of the typical VLJ buyer and are standing aside.Others are taking a "wait & see" approach. He has quoted an early position holder $47,000, and that was for a 4000+ hour pilot with a fair amount of turboprop time ($1 mil liability, limited to $150k per seat). That's some serious cash!

To put it into perspective, for an average pilot flying 150 hours per year, the insurance cost alone is $313 per flight hour.

Buying a jet is easy. Owning one is a different story.....

Stan Blankenship said...

In case any of you missed these related stories:

The NTSB released their final report on the February 2005 Challenger CL-600 accident at Teterboro. The aircraft was loaded outside the forward CG envelope. On the takeoff roll, it failed to get airborne, went through the perimeter fence, across a highway and impacted a building.

Just today, Sino-Swearingen delivered the first SJ-30. The airplane was certified October 27, 2005.

Regarding the Eclipse, the company has technical problem that will be difficult if not impossible to resolve.

Eclipse has financial hurdles to overcome that will make it tough to ever turn a profit.

It is going to be fascinating to watch events unfold and I can't personally envision a favorable outcome.

Who will run out of patience first? The investors? The vendors? Upper managers? The speculators? The owner-operators? The air-taxi operators?

The entire situation reminds me of a joke I first heard over 50 years ago.

Raztas and Leroy were interviewing for jobs as truck drivers. The interviewer asked, "Rastus, you're coming down a mountain road with a load of 5,000 live chickens, your brakes fail and you are rapidly picking up speed. What are you going to do?" Rastus jumped up and exclaimed, "I'm gonna wake up Leroy caus he ain't never seen a crash like this!"

AJ said...

This from Saturday's Albuquerque Journal front page story...

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Eclipse Jets Built but Not Delivered

By Andrew Webb
Copyright © 2006 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer
More than 30 Eclipse 500 jets have come off the assembly line, but the company has yet to deliver one of the airplanes to a customer.
Eclipse officials had predicted delivery of the first jets "next week" several times during October.
The company this week said bureaucratic hurdles have delayed delivery and insisted there were no serious problems.
The delays have helped fan Internet and aviation publication rumors that new engineering problems are plaguing the $1.5 million jet. Eclipse was set back two years in 2002 by a complex engine swap.
Mike McConnell, the company's vice president for sales and product support, said late Thursday that the first delivery could happen early next week.
McConnell said during a telephone interview there are no major problems with the jets.
Eclipse received FAA Type Certification in late September, but the agency must inspect each plane individually for airworthiness before delivery until the company earns a Production Certification. Company officials say that is expected by year's end.
McConnell said delivery has been on hold as Eclipse waits for FAA technicians to complete workmanship and flight characteristics checks on each plane.
"We've been waiting a couple of times on the FAA to arrive," he said. "We're prepared, everything's lined up, dotted and crossed."
The FAA inspectors arrived in the middle of this week to begin looking at the first planes, McConnell said.
"In some ways, this was expected, but maybe not to take this long," he said of the delayed first deliveries.
FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said the agency could not go into detail about its work with companies.
"We're doing all we can to support Eclipse in their enterprise," he said.
The industry has been waiting to see the first customers take delivery of the Eclipse 500, which some believe will revolutionize aviation by making jet ownership and travel affordable to a whole new class of pilots.
A handful of changes were outlined to customers and investors in July, such as larger wingtip fuel tanks to extend the jet's range, and additions of avionics functionality, such as autothrottle and weather radar.
McConnell said there are no other major engineering issues.
Among the rumblings are suggestions that the Eclipse jet suffers from a narrow center of gravity and problems with wing de-icing devices.
"There's no factual basis to that," McConnell said. "There are no massive problems."
He added, "We work hard to squelch those rumors."
The first delivery, serial No. 1, is to go to co-owners David Crowe, a California businessman, and Jet Alliance, a Westlake Village, Calif., company that seeks to offer fractional, or shared ownership, of Eclipse Jets.
Other early customers include Florida-based DayJet, an air-taxi company that plans to begin operations in 2007.
Eclipse currently forecasts delivering 10 planes by the end of 2006, and about 525 by the end of 2007, McConnell said.
Once the planes are officially delivered, he said, the owners, or their pilots, will complete training on the aircraft.
Eclipse will also lease back some of the first planes it delivers, McConnell said, so it can have available fully outfitted production-model aircraft to take to potential customers and air shows.
"It is our intent to lease back several for sales and marketing," he said. "You can never have enough."
Some new aircraft companies have leased back aircraft so they could continue working on them, as was the case with Colorado-based Adam Aircraft. That company's A500 propeller-powered plane was certified in May 2005 but with limitations on cabin pressurization, night flight and other caveats. The FAA has since expanded certification of the A500.
Eclipse's first customer jets will not have some avionics functionality, such as on-board weather radar, until upgrades are completed next year. But the company has said its certification allows flight throughout the jet's advertised "operating envelope"— a set of minimum and maximum performance limits on speed, altitude, weight and other factors.
McConnell also responded to rumors the company is laying off employees.
"We don't comment on what happens between Eclipse and our employees, but we're not in the midst of layoffs," he said. "There are no problems forcing us to re-evaluate our hiring."
The company, which now employs more than 1,000, is actually training more than 20 new employees per week, Eclipse spokesman Andrew Broom said.

Stan Blankenship said...

aj,

Thanks for posting the Journal article.

What stands out for me is McConnell's response to the question on the narrow CG. He said "There's no factual basis to that."

He can't deny that the FAA Type Data Sheet shows 2.5 inches of travel at the maximum takeoff weight. Is he suggesting 2.5 inches of travel sufficient for a 6-place airplane?

McConnell also said he works hard to squelch "those rumors." Can't be working too hard because this blog is open for him or any other interested party to make comments. He doesn't have to sign his name, just provide some factual basis to support his position.

If we have any erroneous data up, it will be removed immediately.

For the record, I have only deleted two posts, both were simply duplicated comments.

airtaximan said...

This Blog contains terrific questions regarding the air taxi guys and their failure to recognize the significance of the equipment to their business.

Probably even more critical is the reliability of the equipment supplier. In the 8 years of listening to Eclipse - failure after failure, over-statement after over-statement, one would have to ask: “why would anyone base a business on Eclipse, their equipment, or their support?"

There’s a huge red flag regarding Eclipse, beyond the shortfall of the aircraft – it’s the culture that led to tremendous exaggeration and years of false promotion. The culture that permits/promotes this behavior is antithetical to safety. Safety must be based on honesty, responsibility and good judgment. Eclipse has demonstrated a lack thereof, for a long time.

With all the rumors flying around about Eclipse, I'd like to add one I heard today...Dayjet is now trying to pay for their Eclipse fleet with IOUs, company stock or some other payment scheme because the investment community is balking at their business plan and the viability of the Eclipse 500 as a taxi-plane. I suspect Pogo’s Bob Crandall's satements were prophetic - there is no way to make money with the Eclipse 500 or the Adam A700 as an air taxi.

So soon, most of the Eclipse orders...and his business case for a lower cost airplane, is gone...unless Vern pays the bill. (Remember Nimbus - Vern trades Eclipse delivery positions for stock?) Vern having ot pay for a customer to take delivery of his plane sounds a lot like his philosophy for the $700 million Eclipse development program. He couldn’t convince established suppliers to support his program and share in the cost, so he had to pay for everything, himself. While thumbing his nose at the aviation establishment for years, Vern got his buddies to paying through the nose for the development of the Eclipse 500 plane. This, in an industry where co-operative supplier agreements and revenue sharing partnerships are an accepted way to get supplier buy-in, alignment and continued support. The catch is, suppliers will only do this when the program makes good sense. Just because Vern's friends could afford to foot the bill doesn’t mean the program makes any sense. In fact, in aerospace, if you have to pay for the whole program yourself, it usually indicates a major problem. The whole aerospace industry is not wrong all the time.

Watch the press for clues - I bet you’ll see another delay in Dayjet's service introduction - well into next year. Perhaps even some references to "new sources of capital or financing".

Eventually, Dayjet (who ironically is promising reliable air service) will be on a schedule – or perhaps this is what they mean by “non-scheduled” service. Its upto Vern when they begin, and he is not being honest with them. Remember, this is just another case of bad judgment by Dayjet - trusting Eclipse and basing your decisions on what they are telling you. It's no way to run an airline!

Stan Blankenship said...

airtaxi...

What should I say, "Another log on the fire or another nail in the coffin?"

Your comments ring true!

Niner Zulu said...

The air taxi wipeout appears to have started - ahead of schedule of even some of the most pessimistic posters on this blog. The first casualties are approximately 10 early serial-number Eclipse jets that apparently are being offered back into the marketplace directly by the factory. One wonders what will happen to the resale market if a few more potential air taxi buyers decide to bail prior to taking delivery.

Bambazonke said...

Follows the text of an e-mail from Eclipse to people in Cali who were invited to a special preview of the Eclipse:

"Due to unforeseen events resulting in an aircraft scheduling conflict, the Eclipse 500 will not be arriving in Van Nuys, CA as previously scheduled on Tuesday, November 14.

The reception and static display scheduled from 4:30 - 8:00 p.m. at Van Nuys Airport's (KVNY) Clay Lacy Aviation has been cancelled.

We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused, and will make every effort to return to Van Nuys in the near future.

Regards,

Eclipse Aviation".

After reading some of the postings about rumors surrounding this outfit this e-mail takes on an ominous undertone for me.

KKA has been anticipating this fall out from the fleet position holders for some time, this exlplains why his marketing is not proportional to his orders or his manufacturing capabilities. For someone who allegedly had 3 years of sold out production, the amount of money, effort and noise that he was expending trying to harness retail sales was disproportionate to his production.

Palm Springs will come and go without a delivery for KKA, and the time is coming when even the Kool Aid Drunks will start to question the message.

Stan Blankenship said...

9Z & bbz,

If I was a customer and have been patiently waiting for my airplane that was now years late, I would be demanding one of the earlier delivery positions. The company has had the use of my deposit money for years (probably interest free) and in the meantime, as the CPI goes up, my final payment cost is going up as well.

But we can understand why the company wants fresh meat. Sales today would (theoretically) come in at the full $1.5 million price and would generate a half-million dollars more cash flow then delivering to one of the poor bastards who signed on early and are getting jacked around, like losing the right to cancel for performance short comings, and some silliness about signing away the rights to hold the company responsible for negligence.

(Don't take offense early buyers, we feel for you, this bubble is bursting and there is a huge gap between what you must have expected and reality).

But all this is overshadowed by technical issues, like weights and CG travel. Are they still planning larger tip tanks, are they going to increase gross weight, how will they expand the CG envelope?

flight guy said...

This just in ->

DayJet having a flight delay

Short-hop airline sets takeoff for first quarter 2007

By Marcia Heroux Pounds
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted November 4 2006

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/local/sfl-zdayjet04nov04,0,5772030.story?coll=sfla-business-headlines

My summary is that DayJet will not be getting "a plane" until the end of March 2007. Interestingly, when I read closely in the article DayJet is on contract for $1.3 million for purchases, but has options for 70 planes. Based upon that fact, it would appear that the hype that Eclipse is vigorously promoting as promised sales volumes are nothing more than potential orders, if the customer feels like buying. I can see that the volume of resales on the market directly from Eclipse is greatly going to increase. Of course that assumes the can deliver an aircraft that does not have "cg" issues.

Bambazonke said...

In AOPA news today, Eclipse has cancelled the arrival of their 3 static display planes, saying that they are in ABQ being upgraded! AOPA presents the largest portal for KKA for his Very Lousy Jet and he is AWOL, this really is starting to smell like an unwinding of mamoth proportions. Options being renged on, Flag Ship of Kool Aid Airlines announcing delays, pricing of the aircraft on the market falling like an anvil, if KKA had read Stan's blog he might have been better prepared for the unfolding that is apparently going on around him. Notice how quiet he has been of late?

Stan Blankenship said...

bbz & flightguy,

May rename the blog, The Shark Tank. You guys are starting to circle and act like you might smell blood.

aj,

Looked on the www.abqjournal.com site for the article you cited. Could not find it. Is it possible someone from Eclipse pressured the Journal to delete the story? It was the first to ask the tough questions.

Random thoughts,

The Eclipse web site suggests there is an online forum open only to Eclipse buyers. Must be some interesting discussions taking place. Unless deposits are in escrow accounts, the buyers may be unwitting investors in the program. (New readers may want to read the May 29 post on the same subject.)

In spite of the fact this blog loads quickly, the size is getting rather large. As soon as I can find the time, will streamline it, try to make it more professional looking and hope like hell I don't lose your comments. Your contributions have added greatly to this blog.

airtaximan said...

"The Shark Tank" - funny, but too reflective on the guys leaving the info and their opinions.

From my contact with the industry, I can tell you that there are a lot of old-timers and long established companies that are household names in aerospace that find Vern Raburn's behavior unconscionable. They would love to see him fail - just because he has been dishonest and insulting.

It's important to keep some perspective. Vern has taken every opportunity to berate the aviation manufacturers, describing them as stuck in the dark ages with outdated products. He smirks when he disagrees with the industry market analysis, preferring to lob thousands of planes into to the market, with no analysis. He says that he has developed disruptive technology that will have an incalculable. Silly. Its a limited performance cheap small plane. It will have the same market as every other plane with the same performance to price value. At normal production rates (not the ficticous rates Vern has promoted), it’s around the same price as a Mustang.

We've seen it before - someone from the outside, who doesn't have a clue, burns millions trying to break into aviation. Most of them fail, BUT almost none of them make fun of the industry along the way.
Vern even blames his own suppliers - imagine how ridiculous this looks to the customer and to the industry? He is an integrator, responsible directly for designing the plane, choosing and managing suppliers, and delivering on time. He thinks he can just blame his suppliers. Even they have been alienated.

So, I do not think anyone is circling and smelling blood. What you are seeing is the tip of the iceberg of bad will Vern has created for Eclipse. Just a normal reaction to someone who has been insulting and disrespectful. I welcome all the information and insight, and I am thankful there are some wise people taking the time and interest to provide this forum.

Stan Blankenship said...

airtaximan,

Nobody has put this in better perspective than you!

AJ said...

Stan,

I have a subscription to the Albuquerque Journal online which gives me access to some articles you can't get unless you subscribe. I don't think there is any conspiricy between the Journal and Eclipse, their search engine is just not very good. Here's the link, I think you need a subscription to get access to it.

http://www.abqjournal.com/news/state/509210nm11-04-06.htm

A few things about the article I found interesting:

1. The first sentence reads: "More than 30 Eclipse 500 jets have come off the assembly line" (If this is true, it looks like Eclipse may be able to crank these out faster than I thought)

2. "The delays have helped fan Internet and aviation publication rumors that new engineering problems are plaguing the $1.5 million jet." (This blog is the only place on the web where I have seen anything relating to Eclipse encountering engineering problems. Unless someone knows of another site, it looks like the Journal is checking in on this blog.)

3. Mike McConnell states "there are no major problems with the jets", "no other major engineering issues" and "there are no massive problems". (I notice he mentioned "major" and "massive" in his responses. Is the cg issue a major or massive problem? Personally I'm not an engineer nor do I know how to build an airplane. Surely McConnell would be smart enough to give a "no comment" response if there is anything remotely wrong with the Eclipse 500. I guess we will wait and see how it plays out.)

Surely Eclipse would not intentionally mislead their customers, employees, shareholders, suppliers and the general public by not being more than forthcoming about any more problems with the 500. Eclipse is on major thin ice right now, I wonder if they make it to the edge of the pond before sinking to the bottom.

Bambazonke said...

Bravo Airtaxi man, well said!

KKA is singularly responsible for the current debate on user fees. If he was not trying to intoxicate the world with his wet dream of thousands of VLJ's in the skies, robbing the airlines of their valuable cargo, this user fee BS would not have raised it's head.

So had a thought.. do you think that the delays in deliveries in ABQ could have come about by the FAA finding non conforming parts from suppliers in Taiwan or some other God Forsaken third world corner of the world where KKA has manufacturing agreements for cheap parts? This could also be the reason why the fleet is grounded when the largest GA Portal is underway in Palm Springs. Just a thought....

Robert Mark said...

Aj & Airtaximan have made some important points.

Vern is not Mr. Personality to be sure. The real issue is that the Eclipse is an inexpensive airplane with limited performance.

Having been inside both airplanes and after having flown the Mustang, I think Eclipse customers will be disappointed no matter when they take delivery.

rob@jetwhine.com

flight guy said...

Mr. Mark,

Please be a little more specific in regards to Eclipse customers will be disappointed. I would be curious along with everybody else of someone's first hand opinion of the deficiencies.

Thanks.

airtaximan said...

With all the coverage Eclipse receives from the Aviation Media, with almost exclusively positive spin...where's the story on Eclipse not showing up at AOPA with a plane?

There are a number of rumors - manufacturing problems with the skins; avionics malfunctions and reliability issues; the FAA is inspecting every plane; serious financial problems, already. Also, there's the company line - all the planes are being upgraded (a funny one, in my opinion).

This is big news...what does it mean? Why did they not show with even one flying plane? Why cancell the sales event? Is the fleet grounded?

Any self-respecting publication would dig and provide the story...
...Inquiring aviation minds want to know!

flightfollowing said...

I have a screenshot of the Eclipse's Avio display showing an actual weight and Balance layout with 5 seats occupied and 90 lbs and baggage, 1410 lbs of fuel, and the takeoff WB shown in the WB envolope is right in the middle along MAC, apparently putting your criticisms of the W&B problems to rest. I don't have a way to upload this file, let me know if you want me to send it somewhere.

Stan Blankenship said...

flightfollowing,

Would love to see it.

stan@aat.aero

Stan Blankenship said...

Posted on the Eclipse website:

Aviace's application for a preliminary injunction denied...52 pages, haven't read it yet.

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

Anonymous said...

Stan-
You ask about the Eclipse Owners Forum. Been there. I order to explain what I found, you’ll need some background.

I deposited on the Eclipse just prior to the July Conference Call. Immediately upon wiring the funds things started to go downhill.

The confirmation receipt I received stated, Eclipse reserves the right to revise the assigned serial number up to six months prior to the delivery of the Aircraft which revision shall not constitute a change to the Deposit Agreement. Customer will be advised, in writing, of any such change to the assigned serial number, if any." This was in direct contradiction to the Agreement that I had signed which stated, "Your serial number reflects the specific manufacturing order of your aircraft.

Meantime I had been on the owners’ site. This is what I found:
- It wasn’t super active
- Most were True Believers, especially those trying to sell early positions
- There was some concern about insurance, but very little in the way of critical thinking or tough questions. It was quite clear that the individual Depositors wished to maintain the best possible standing with the Company and didn’t want to lead any charge

I was only on the site for a couple of days; that’s as long as it took me to demand my money back and for Eclipse to show me the door. First I brought up the issue of Eclipse’s statement that they were canceling all Serial Numbers ” Serial numbers may be changing for everyone based on refunds taking place, etc”. Early Depositors were surprised, as they’d received their framed Orders, complete with Hull Number, among great fanfare. Then I posted a link to this blog and asked if anyone knew what axe you had to grind. The silence was pretty much deafening. I felt as though I’d just kicked someone’s puppy.

Back to the Eclipse Exchange:
Micah explained by email that this was due to a change in documents and that they were no longer assigning SN’s; even if they did, that might change! I refused to accept the ad hoc change and explained that my agreement to such change would allow Eclipse to hold my Deposit, without delivery, for as long as it would like. I then posted me email on the owners’ forum. The post was promptly deleted. (If I recall correctly, ALL of my posts were). Shortly thereafter, my Login was locked and Micah responded that they’d be returning my Deposit (though it took two weeks to do so). Best Hundred and Thirty Grand I ever saved!

Below is the email that got me shown to the door:
You’re right, Micah, I am feeling misled already.

The fact that you no longer assign Serial Numbers puts your customers completely in the dark as to the number of units you have on order, gives us zero transparency as to internal “bumping” of positions, provides absolutely zero collateral to your purchasers and is a completely non-standard practice whether it be in buying a car, a boat or a plane. Additionally, in the present case, I am left little choice but to assume that Eclipse has no intention of executing the document that it required me to execute; despite the fact that you have accepted my money.

Sorry for the confusion?
I’m sorry for the confusion also. Unfortunately, it wasn’t mine yet is apparently about to cost only me. I think not.

Kindly advise as to whether we have a purchase contract or, in the negative, just how clear we are on the issue of IMMEDIATE wire return of the funds you have taken for a contract you will not execute.

Yes, I’m feeling just a little misled; and my confidence in your company’s organizational and communication abilities is severely shaken. From what I can tell, your single source of revenues is from wire transfers such as mine....to find out, in retrospect that you’re not all on the same page as to the terms of receipt of that income is simply unthinkable.


Gunner

Stan Blankenship said...

gunner,

We may run a tally here to determine if you are the "Smartest Duck" or the "Luckiest Duck" in the pond.

Thanks for sharing this incredible experience.

Robert Mark said...

You're right, I wasn't very specific about my comments. Probably getting caught up in this discussion.

After having climbed around inside both the Eclipse and the Mustang and having flown the Mustang, I think the tiny cabin on the Eclipse and the lack of an emergency potty will make many Eclipse owners wish they'd chosen the more expensive airframe.

This of course, is all simply personal opinion and while I know the Mustang did not exist five years ago, it does now.

The specs on the Eclipse claim it will speed past a Mustang in cruise, but I haven't been able to verify them simply because the company has been extremely cautious about who evaluates the airplane.

Unlike some of you, I have no inside track on the airplane, only my reactions to the marketing communications tactics Eclipse uses with the outside world.

They seem odd at least, but that might simply be due to the personality of the CEO.

I'd like to see the tables that flightfollowing mentioned earlier about the weight and balance issues. I hope there is a way to post them.

Anonymous said...

ECLIPSE GROUNDS TEST FLEET, CHANGES MAINTENANCE MANUALS
Excessive wear of an improperly installed bushing inside the rear wing attach point has resulted in the temporary grounding of the five-airplane Eclipse 500 test fleet. No production aircraft have shown similar wear and therefore are not affected by the grounding. Eclipse says that it could not have led to wing separation or failure. The affected aircraft will be repaired and returned to testing duties. In addition, a second customer memo warns that the test fleet has exhibited seven incidents of cockpit windshield cracking and seven separate incidents of side-window cracking, due to thermal and pressurization loads. While the outside layer of acrylic failed, the fail-safe interior layer was undamaged in all cases. The aircraft maintenance manual has been changed to temporarily require inspection of both windows every 50 flights, and replacement of the windshield every 100 flights, while the cockpit side window is to be replaced every 250 flights. Finally, a third bulletin clarifies that ballast will be required for single-pilot operations if the pilot weighs less than 180 pounds. A letter from Eclipse Aviation CEO and President Vern Raburn pledges more regular communication with customers, but warns there will be times when internal challenges are proprietary and require confidentiality.

Anonymous said...

ECLIPSE GROUNDS TEST FLEET, CHANGES MAINTENANCE MANUALS
Excessive wear of an improperly installed bushing inside the rear wing attach point has resulted in the temporary grounding of the five-airplane Eclipse 500 test fleet. No production aircraft have shown similar wear and therefore are not affected by the grounding. Eclipse says that it could not have led to wing separation or failure. The affected aircraft will be repaired and returned to testing duties. In addition, a second customer memo warns that the test fleet has exhibited seven incidents of cockpit windshield cracking and seven separate incidents of side-window cracking, due to thermal and pressurization loads. While the outside layer of acrylic failed, the fail-safe interior layer was undamaged in all cases. The aircraft maintenance manual has been changed to temporarily require inspection of both windows every 50 flights, and replacement of the windshield every 100 flights, while the cockpit side window is to be replaced every 250 flights. Finally, a third bulletin clarifies that ballast will be required for single-pilot operations if the pilot weighs less than 180 pounds. A letter from Eclipse Aviation CEO and President Vern Raburn pledges more regular communication with customers, but warns there will be times when internal challenges are proprietary and require confidentiality.