Saturday, February 24, 2007

News Update from ABQ

Mass Raid on Eclipse Facilities

By Jim McKlain
Journal Staff Writer

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Following months of delays, the Very Light Jet (VLJ) manufacturer Eclipse Aviation has inadvertently unleashed a veritable storm cloud of low-cost jets into the New Mexico skies - well, parts at least. Last Thursday, as reported by local state employees located adjacent to the Eclipse facilities (located at the Albuquerque International Sunport), a crowd of hundreds of angry depositors stormed the manufacturing facilities in an apparent attempt to lay claim to literally thousands of incomplete airplane parts.

While not entirely clear what prompted the mad rush for these semi-built VLJ’s, one witness claimed to overhear the crowd yelling chants of “I can build this damn thing faster myself!” and “Take my money to pay for someone else’s airplane – I’ll show you.”

While Eclipse has made claim to be the first to certify the Eclipse 500, there has been little to no sign of actual ability to manufacture or deliver these little “wonder jets”, while other more traditional “latecomer” companies have made significantly more progress.

Amidst the confusion, Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse, was seen wandering apparently aimlessly and somewhat dazed amongst the strewn out parts, repeatedly chanting "We make the fuselage in three sections, starting with the belly.", intermixed with "I think part of what the Eclipse 500 is today is a direct, absolute reflection of my knowledge and my experience from the computer business,". The quotes were reportedly random portions of previous press releases related to the long-overdue, and vastly over budget development of the little VLJ.

One apparently furious depositor was reportedly seen stuffing several rolls of gaffers tape into Mr. Raburns mouth, yelling “stir fry weld this!!" The source of the reference is unknown. Mr. Raburn did not seem to resist the effort, but did continue to mumble something about if he could just get more deposits.

The confusion apparently died down after about an hour of scavenging and several fist-fights, where some depositors had to be taken to the local medical facilities for minor treatment. An apparent source of frustration between the battling depositors was confusion over who exactly had paid for what specific parts. At one point, four separate depositors were seen struggling over a single windshield, each claiming to have paid for it. The windshield eventually fractured into four parts, whereupon the depositors moved quietly on to collect other components.

When one depositor was stopped and asked what he intended to do with the parts, he stated that he intended to hand them over to engineers at Cessna to “see what they could do with them”.

Just as the preverbal dust was settling, a debris covered individual was seen frantically running from the scene yelling “We fully expected this minor set back and will be back in the air and flying within a couple of days, at most”. The individual was later found panic stricken and huddling in a storm drain, and identified as Eclipse spokesman Andrew Broom. Police had determined that Mr. Broom had actually been one of the early casualties of the entire incident and had been wrapped in duct-tape, along with Mr. Raburn, and hung out on the advanced, state of the art flight-test telemetry antenna just outside the main facilities.

It’s unclear the long term impact this new outcome will have on the companies future, but Mr. Raburn appeared to be in a chipper mood at the local hospital, after receiving skin grafts on both his shins.

Thanks, metalguy for bringing this important story to our attention.

19 comments:

ThisWillHurt said...

This may cause a delay: CharterX Reports Avidyne Eclipse Split

airtaximan said...

Regarding the Dayjet announced delay, again yesterday...

I doubt the timing was a fluke...so it indicates at least SOME advanced knowledge of the situation at Eclipse...given the Avedyne situation becoming public today.

Perhaps 24 hours notice?
Kidding...

Any clue as to the possible delay for the avionics? What about for part 135?

Day-delay, probably more like 4thQ, instead of their announced 2Q... any clue?

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

"On Feb. 23, Avidyne told CharterX, as for Eclipse’s third AHRS system not being functional, “that’s an Eclipse managed program.” Avidyne did not supply Eclipse’s two AHRS, which are functional.

Eclipse has repeatedly blasted Avidyne for various delays. Avidyne told CharterX, per Eclipse’s desire, they’ve agreed it’s in “the best interest of both companies to wind down its relationship.” The company declined further comment."

You know, being right never gets old. ;^)

Eclipse blames Avidyne for delays in systems it did not supply and for delays in programs that Eclipse itself is managing - now that is chutzpah. Maybe Vern can teach us old dogs new tricks after all - especially in vendor relations.

So, with the penchant for publicly tossing major systems under the bus (Williams, BAe, and apparently now Avidyne), does anyone believe that a company like Garmin would even bid on a high-risk undertaking like the Eclipse?

With all the talk about Garmin, I expect another company to be the 'winner' in this, NOT Garmin. The folks in Olathe are too smart to fall for this spiel.

Declined comment about PC, hmmm, this from the company that is 'committed to transparency'. Current rumblings are FAA had findings and left, again. Gosh, who knew this airplane stuff was so hard - duh, the AIRPLANE people - oh that's right, they don't need airplane people at this aircraft company, it is different.

How are you loyalists feeling today?

10 to 1 Dayjet announces an airframe change within 3 months, or goes belly-up. My suggestion to Ed, TBM 700.

CWMOR Prediction - Diamond D-Jet will have more aircraft in the field 12 months from now than Eclipse. CWMOR may have to get one of these, although they are a little Fugly.

CWMOR Prediction - Adam will certify the A-700 and begin deliveries and have more aircraft in the field 12 months from now.

CWMOR Prediction - Eclipse will 'change hands' within 6 months, new management will come clean that they are 12-18 months from a viable aircraft.

Why have the 'completed' aircraft not been delivered under 100% FAA inspection? That would result in an easy $30-40M bump, enough cash for 2 maybe 3 months - and some MUCH NEEDED good news.

Calling up the first 400 aircraft owners, 16% of the claimed TOTAL order book, for '6 month' progress payments is insulting - in a way the company has these poor folks over a barrel, pay up or lose your deposit - wow could be free money.

This is a scam that will scar aviation in ways not even imaginable 2 or 3 years ago.

The end result will be a $1B smoking hole, thousands out of work, and perhaps a thousand defrauded customers.

IT IS TIME FOR A CUSTOMER AND STAKEHOLDER\BOD REVOLT. I am talking customers demanding compensation or walking away, I am talking the talented staff at Eclipse demanding the company do it right for once or walking away, and I am talking the BOD removing Raburn and any allies from the exectuive team and taking direct control of operations.

The only way you guys are ever going to get even half the airplane promised is to save Eclipse from itself.

EO, I wish you luck. The rest, well, I'd start towards ABQ today, maybe you can get some of the parts that would have been your airplane.

bambazonke said...

It appears that the forecasting from this site on the date of the start of pilot training is more accurate than the reports direct from ABQ that were gleefully posted here by the KAF faithful...

I personally know of at least 2 aviation journalists that have approached the KAF and asked for a ride in the wonder jet, both requests, although initially granted, were turned down when these journalists produced a protocol for their evaluation flight. Both protocols were basically the same, full fuel, check W&B then load up with max pax, and then have the max range demonstrated.

It sounds like a broken record, but the lack of transparency with this company just leads one to believe that they have something to hide. If they were ready for prime time, the kind of air time that the imbecilic leader seems to get every time he is ready to stand in front of a microphone, then you would think that they would be ready to share their accomplishments.

Eclipse continues to demand deposits from their faithful, now reaching into the 400 range of serial numbers. It is inconceivable to believe that these deposits are being used to purchase components for aircraft that far down the line. When this 60% requirement was sold to the position holders, they were told it was to cash flow the purchase for THEIR aircraft, right now it is obvious this money is being used to pay for the certification of the aircraft that are on the ramp..The only people that can be comfortable with this arrangement are the poor suckers that have already parted with their deposits, there is now a pretty good chance that these position holders will get paid their interest on their deposit as the 6 month mark is passed since they parted with their honest made money.

If there are any bankers, lawyers or people reading the blog that have any knowledge of the banking laws of New Mexico, this means of raising money and not applying it for the use for which it was intended, might like to comment on the legality of this stunt.

Certainly in the very least if progress payments that were made for the acquisition of components for SN-400 are applied to pay for operating costs incurred whilst building SN-2,or the Day Jet planes that might be exempt from this requirement, I see a what can only be described as a Ponzi scheme. The This scheme only works whilst the deposits are rolling in, the moment they stop, there is no money for the parts for SN-400..

Frank Castle said...

That story is so freakishly funny !

I can't stop laughing !

Someone in the 'cubes will think it's real when it makes the rounds on Monday. Oh what a hoot !

Frank Castle said...

Hey, someone pick me up an E-clops desk model during a raid.

http://www.eclipseaviationstore.com/gifts/model500he.html

Can't find a Mustang.....

Frank Castle said...

"If there are any bankers, lawyers or people reading the blog that have any knowledge of the banking laws of New Mexico, this means of raising money and not applying it for the use for which it was intended, might like to comment on the legality of this stunt."

I'm sure Polygon doesn't want any of their investors to know that their portfolio is about as flimsy as tissue in the rain. Can't have a good investment base with a company about to go C-11 ?

Spring Break's gettin' closer. When kids are making a run for the beach, depositors will make a run for ABQ.

Frank Castle said...

"The end result will be a $1B smoking hole, thousands out of work, and perhaps a thousand defrauded customers."

Don't forget the thousands of empty new homes and apartments, and all the infrastructure that went into the new additions.

Wow, what a waste !

Frank Castle said...

Background on Polygon

Polygon Investment Partners LLP ("Polygon") is a global private
investment firm based in London and New York. It is authorised and regulated
by the Financial Services Authority. Polygon manages a multi-strategy
investment fund and invests in a wide range of publicly traded securities.
The firm currently has over $1.35 billion under management

flight guy said...

It's ok if anyone else wants to admit to selling their slot!!!

Now is a good time to get in line.

airtaximan said...

It would be interesting to know how the Avidyne departure is going to effect things, seriously.

Is it possible that Eclipse can find someone to finish the work?

Will this be a wholesale avionics change?

How will anyone else handle the intergration issues with whatever is left to supply, or with the entire AVIO system?

Does E-clips (probably a more apt name for them now, given their coming foray into AVIONICS software) own Avidyne's work to this point, or is it all for not? I remember reading somewhere that VErn financed the development of the Avidyne work for the model E-500-(million-plus).

Whole new certification? C model?

How much of a delay best case, worst case?

Part 135?

Any clues from the big brains?

Are they going to spin this in a way where they can deliver planes (A models) and have this as another retrofit and delta certi like all the other "improvements"?

I'd love to hear from any position-holders how they feel about all this? It would be "nice" if Vern would actually bring the die-hards into the decision process, and find out how they feel about any possible options/paths that HE might decide for their money.

I can almost hear the giant sigh of relief coming from Avidyne...

WonderAboutEclipse said...

From charter X - "Eclipse declined comment on its status of obtaining a production certificate from the FAA."

Transparency, eh? Inquiring minds want to know...

WonderAboutEclipse said...

The Avidyne system is so tightly integrated with all the other systems, it would be like another engine change to swap this out...

except now things are much different than four years ago.

Anyone know how they are going to pull this off? Or, more precisely, who would want to step up and be next on the vendor bashing block?

Stan Blankenship said...

wae,

I have three other individuals who have written regarding the impact of this change.

It looks to be huge, but without knowing who was supposed to do what to whom, it is hard to assess how big of a set back this might represent.

One thing we do know, had it been an easy change, they would probably have made the move months ago.

Old Troll said...

I'm surprised Kenny hasn't stopped by to raise a "red flag" on this ridiculous Avidyne rumor. This "news" did not come from the great Raburn so of course it can't be true.


If the avionics system is as integrated as Eclipse boasts, Avidyne's departure may be the death knell. The industry has started to realize Vern is full of hot air. What respectable company would step in to finish the project? Who would want to be publicly smeared by Vern like Avidyne has? Collins? Garmin? Honeywell?

Of course, finding a new vendor assumes you have money to pay them. I'm not as optimistic as some regarding the bottomless money well... but that's an entire blog string in itself.

bambazonke said...

If you read the TCDS, the avionics system is completely integrated into the aircraft, so much so Eclipse has restricted any avionics work to be performed on the aircraft limited to EAC as the sole source of this work.

What would be interesting to me is whether or not any of the development technology is proprietary to Avidyne. I had someone at EAC remark to me in the last 2 weeks that elements of what they requested be incorporated in the wonder jet had appeared in the Entegra panels and they were miffed about this. The question goes deeper if this technology was based on Avidyne intellectual property, then I would say Avidyne has Vern by the balls, and he had better think about buying Avidyne to save his balls.

I agree that due to the level of integration of this equipment in the aircraft, this is a bigger problem than the change of the engine, this will have ramifications back to the core of their certification, it will impact their flight training, their representations to underwriters to name just a few.

Who is now going to be interested in financing a position holders with this kind of uncertainty?

airtaximan said...

BZKE,

VErn PAID Avidyne a lot of money, which is not customeray, unless HE owned the IP.

In an avionics suite, just like in an engine (read what Williams did to Rolls regarding the FJ44 and FJ33)is difficult to bracket.

The zillion dollar question: who owns what? Who can continue to use and develop which parts of what?

Complex. Probably so complex that Vern can BS anything he wants to the general public and die hards. I expect a BIG lie, which will trickle months and quarters on end, until the fat lady sings.

LONG, slow, death.

This situation is SO bad, that Advedyne broke the news, not Vern.

Another FIRST in aviaton history!

bambazonke said...

If this article is correct, and I have no reason to believe that anything other than it is, KKA has 2 options;

1. Sue Avidyne for lack of performance and take them down with him.
2. Purchase Avidyne.

Option 2 seems to be the only viable option with the IP and other issues, not the least of which is time, KKA is on borrowed time, he does not have the time to monkey around with a law suit.

The only problem with owning them is the human capital at Avidyne, do they have what it will take to make this product functional? He is trying to achieve in the Avio suite what Honeywell did in the EPIC, the $'s involved are where KKA is short.

One other problem for Avidyne if EAC owned them, the other OEM's that are using the product would defect to Garmin immediately.

Where are Kenny and EB when you need their sage advice and clear thoughts ????

WonderAboutEclipse said...

Not to forget... Eclipse paid Williams tens of millions in NRE to get the per-unit costs down. Then he flushed that down the john, and had to buy engines at market price. KKA has paid Avidyne tens of millions in NRE to get a smokin price, and any change of vendor would most certainly use an off-the-shelf unit at regular OEM retail. Plus NRE for software.

Another hit on the low-cost strategy, and investors seeing many tens of millions wasted on bad decisions.

The next saving grace will be just one fix away... right.