No funny no more...
An e-mail arrived lamenting the loss of humor on the blog.
Well Virginia, last summer it was easy to poke fun at the Eclipse program and its cast of characters.
They were a proud bunch, Vern on stage at Oshkosh surrounded by Washington dignitaries. Congratulation all around, handshakes, the press pleading for statements. Everyone associated with the project was busting their buttons with pride.
Vern's dream was just around the corner. His Minister of Propaganda was tossing out production numbers and delivery projections to the waiting faithful. Those 2,500 smart cookies could walk a little taller. They would soon be up there at 41,000 ft looking down at the unwashed masses.
Intoxicating times indeed!
The program was an easy blog target and fair game. Not a problem for Eclipse, they would soon prove the critics wrong.
Needless to say, today ain't last summer. Things aren't so funny anymore, especially to those directly affected.
Probably not so funny to the last investor group that came in coincident with the Provisional Type Certificate when the company was saying full certification was just days away and deliveries would total 100 by the end of the year, 525 by the end of 2007.
The new investor group earned a seat on the Board of Directors and must be asking some tough questions like how could the company fail so miserably in achieving its near term (30-150 days) business objectives.
Probably not so funny to fellow board member Brian Barents.
Had the Eclipse program clicked on schedule and started paying off like Vern had predicted, Brian might have been able to parlay the Eclipse success into his pet project, a supersonic business jet. Unfortunately for him, Eclipse cost overruns, technical difficulties and a billion dollar price tag for a little Part 23 sub-subsonic airplane might make it difficult to raise money for a SSBJ.
Probably not so funny for the Board of Directors as a whole.
The program is not doing so good under their stewardship. The current business model is not sustainable. There are huge costs associated with the development and re-certification work left on the airplane, start up costs to ramp up the production line, costs for the new service centers in Gainsville, Albany and Van Nuys, costs to upgrade however many "A" model airplanes that are delivered, costs here, costs there.
The expected revenues from delivering the first 100 units by the end of 2006 certainly don't exist. Revenues from delivery of the first 525 by the end of this year don't look so good either.
Plus by the time each airframe is delivered, the final payment will only amount to how much have we heard...30%?
If the company has collected the progress payments on first 200 units for delivery and if Eclipse runs out of cash, where will the next batch of money come from? The IPO or maybe Eclipse will try to tap the next block of 200 position holders for their 60% progress payment.
Extorting these progress payments from position holders is a new variation on the old Ponzi scheme. IMO, if any of these deposit holders lose money, they will be in a courtroom asking the board, "Where was the oversight?"
The other investors can't be to happy with the situation. I am quite sure they expected to be seeing some returns by now and they face the real possibility the wheels will come off this donkey cart and the original investors will be linked to the company's failure.
Back on the lack of humor, the situation today can't be much fun for Vern, he is carrying a ton of problems on his shoulders and things are getting worse, not better.
Our jokes at the expense of the employees are probably not welcome. I suspect many are working long hours and sacrificing weekends with their families trying to get the paperwork sorted out to support the PC. This is basic grunt work that could have and should have been worked during the last 24 month period. Then another large group desperately trying to squeeze the last little bit of performance out of the little jet in an attempt to meet the claims of management and marketing, while another group is pushing, pushing, pushing trying to get airplanes out the door, again to satisfy management's wild proclamations.
And those employees promised stock options that might propel them into the ranks of the near wealthy, they gotta wonder, will it ever...
The situation is probably not amusing to the vendors who were promised "too good to be true" production rates and dates that were attractive enough to bring them on board with great expectations.
It is not likely the position holders find much amusing today. The airplane is 6 or 7 years late, doesn't perform as advertised and their deposit is at risk as well.
Sorry Virginia, it's not funny anymore.