Friday, February 16, 2007

Question to Eclipse Buyers from bambazonke

I don't wish to insult all Eclipse purchasers, but does anyone here have a good reason why a buyer; read the one in the driving seat, would sign a contract that had the following verbiage:

15.5 Attorney Fees. If Seller is prevailing party in any action to enforce its rights under this Agreement, Seller shall be entitled to its fees, costs and expenses (Including attorney's fees and expenses) in connection therewith).

What about the Buyer's fees enforcing the contract..SOL?

Under Disclaimer and Release:

ii) Except for the obligations expressly undertaken by Seller herein, Buyer hereby waives and releases all rights, claims, and remedies with respect to any all warranties express, implied or statutory (including without limitation, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness and any implied warranties arising from liabilities in tort or contract arising by law or otherwise including (1) LIABILITY FOR SELLER'S OWN NEGLIGENCE, (2) STRICT LIABILITY OR PRODUCT LIABILITY AND (3) ANY OBLIGATIONS OF SELLER WITH RESPECT TO INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF USE, OR CHANGE IN MARKET VALUE OF THE AIRCRAFT. THIS SECTION 9.ii shall not be interpreted to affect in any way Seller's obligations, if any for third party claims for property damage personal injury or wrongful death. (My emphasis on the caps above).

What person in their right mind would give away their rights for the negligence of another, particularly an outfit like this...

iii) IF AN ALLEGED DEFECT THAT WOULD BE COVERED BY THIS LIMITED AIRCRAFT WARRANTY CAUSES THE DESTRUCTION OF THE AIRCRAFT BEYOND ECONOMICAL REPAIR, THEN AND ONLY THEN, BUYER HEREBY WAIVES AND RELEASES FOR ITSELF AND ITS INSURERS ALL RIGHTS, CLAIMS AND REMEDIES WITH RESPECT TO ANY CLAIMS AND REMEDIES WITH RESPECT TO ANY CLAIMS FOR THE RECOVERY OF THE VALUE OF THE AIRCRAFT OR THE LOSS OF USE OF THE AIRCRAFT WITH RESPECT TO ANY AND ALL WARRANTIES EXPRESSED (INCLUDING THOSE PROVIDED IN THIS LIMITED WARRANTY) IMPLIED OR STATUTORY (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS), DUTIES, OBLIGATIONS, LIABILITIES, IN TORT OR CONTRACT ARISING BY LAW OR OTHERWISE INCLUDING (1) LIABILITY FOR THE SELLERS OWN NEGLIGENCE OR (2) STRICT LIABILITY OR PRODUCT LIABILITY. THIS SECTION 9 iii SHALL NOT BE INTERPRETED TO AFFECT IN ANY WAY SELLER'S OBLIGATIONS, IF ANY FOR THIRD PARTY CLAIMS FOR PROPERTY DAMAGE, PERSONAL INJURY, OR WRONGFUL DEATH.

I would be interested to know how many spouses know of the rights that have been signed away for negligence of the Seller, equally important, how many Insurance carriers that have quoted the risk on the wonder jet, know that their remedies and rights for Seller's negligence have been waived..

Given this companies track record of coming clean, I would feel particularly naked having waived these rights against their negligence.

54 comments:

Gunner said...

Adam A700 for Comparison:
No discussion of Legal Fee reimbursement.

PURCHASER ACKNOWLEDGES THAT IT UNDERSTANDS AND AGREES THAT EXCEPT AS SET FORTH IN THIS ORDER, AA MAKES NO OTHER OR FURTHER WARRANTIES, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, AND SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDES THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS
FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE. ALL OTHER OBLIGATIONS OR LIABILITIES OF AA IN CONTRACT OR TORT, WHETHER UNDER A THEORY OF NEGLIGENCE OR STRICT LIABILITY OR OTHERWISE, WHETHER FOR CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF THE SALE, USE OR OPERATION OF THE AIRCRAFT, OR OTHERWISE, ARE EXCLUDED BY AA AND HEREBY EXPRESSLY WAIVED BY PURCHASER.
PURCHASER ACKNOWLEDGES THAT
THE AIRCRAFT IS A GENERAL AVIATION AIRCRAFT NOT SUITED FOR COMMERCIAL TRANSPORT OR AEROBATICS OR IRREGULAR USE INCLUDING MISSIONIZATION, OTHER THAN THOSE CONFIGURATIONS AND OPERATIONS THAT MEET THE EXPRESS WRITTEN SPECIFICATION OR APPROVED USE BASED ON CONSENT OF AA.


Gunner

Gunner said...

Diamon D-Jet:
No Limited Liability Clause.
Legal Fees:

Should any litigation, proceedings or arbitration be commenced among the
Parties or their representatives in connection with this Deposit Agreement,
the prevailing party in such proceedings as determined by the court or arbitrator will be entitled to reimbursement of its reasonable attorneys fees, expenses and court costs incurred in the litigation, proceedings or arbitration.


Gunner

Ken Meyer said...

Are you getting an A700 gunner after cancelling your Eclipse purchase?

I flew it before test flying the Eclipse. I thought it was pretty nice, but the economics do not work out nearly as well (unless of course one needs a bigger airplane).

Adam's ability to meet its timeline and specifications is IMHO much more questionable than Eclipse's.

Ken

Gunner said...

Ken-
I'm still looking. Quite honestly, for my uses, a jet the size of the Eclipse would have been perfect. I just don't trust its systems or reliability, despite the scores of talented and dedicated people working to make it happen. The company is, IMHO, grossly misdirected in its claims, its goals, its operations and its philosophy.

I think Adam is well ahead of Eclipse on the viability front. They've invested about 1/3 the money and are already actively producing their first product, the A500, which has some pretty impressive performance specs for its class. Eclipse is not to that point yet.

Am also seriously considering the D-Jet (and looking forward to seeing what Cirrus has). Diamond is a well known quantity, with excellent safety record. They make a very strong case against trying to fly 330-360 knots in a 400+ knot environment (25k-41k alt).

Additionally, those of us who fly 200-300 hrs/year REALLY need to give some thought to the challenges of 35-41k ft flight. There's a whole lot more that just flying "faster" involved in that.

Now, your turn:
How do you feel about the legal remedies that you've abdicated with the EA500?
Gunner

Niner Zulu said...

My take on the VLJ market:

Top of the food chain: Embraer Phenom 100, followed closely by the Mustang. The only day you will be disappointed with these is the day you write the check. If I felt comfortable leaving one of these out on the ramp in the Bahamas, I'd buy one. I can afford it, but do I really want to own a $3 million dollar plane?

Most practical & economical solution for budding jet pilots: Diamond D-Jet, Piper Jet. Let's face it - forking over a few thousand dollar bills every time you get in an airplane can take the fun out of flying. Been there, done that. At 34-45gph the D-Jet will be cheap to fly. The flight time difference between the D-Jet and the Eclipse on a typical trip will be negligible - once you're over 300 kts or so then, in my opinion, speed becomes irrelevant. At that point, how fast you get your rental car makes more of a time difference than how fast your aircraft is. Loading your plane faster will save you more time than the extra engine. Less maintenance, less expense, less hassle with your insurance company, and backed by big companies with reliable parts and service networks. These are huge benefits that far outweigh the disadvantages of the single engine performance. As far as the reliability of a single engine - think TBM, Pilatus, Caravan.

Most risky bets: Eclipse & Adam. Scary.

airtaximan said...

same goes for D-jet as a taxi plane.

added speed of E-clips is negligeable when replacing car trips (a few hundred miles)...Dayjet's business plan.

Oh yeah...but you can put 6 people in a E-clips-taxi...oh, sorry, I was reading the brochure again.

Gunner said...

Risk and Reward:
If the VLJ craze (and this blog) have given us anything, it's to question our stand-by assumptions.

F'rinstance, the old addage, "You get what you pay for". That only works with commodity type products. But guess what? Aircraft really ARE commodity type products, just as automobiles are.

Take Eclipse for example. If a startup auto manufacturer were to advertise, "we can produce a Mercedes S500 for $48,000 because we're gonna sell 10X Mercede's volume", would you be the first on your block to own one?

The gold-paint gilt has worn off the Eclipse promise that it is introducing revolutionary new processes and systems that will make high speed jet travel at 41K available to all. There's a reason why the Mustang costs what it does, why the Phenom 100 costs what it does and why the HondaJet costs what it does. There's a reason why a competitively priced company like Diamond is offering a single engine jet for only a few dollars less than the Eclipse twin. Because, when all is said and done, you will basically get what you pay for in a commodities type market.

The lower costs of the Eclipse, if not supported by some obvious market or production advantage, has to be supported by cutting other corners. In the case of the present Blog Entry, limitations of back end liability are but one.

Adam? Dunno if they'll make it, but they have a much better explanation for their pricing: they claim that costs are lower because they are certifying and producing basically the same fuselage and systems for two different classes of airplane. That may not prove out, but it's certainly more substantive than FSW and AVIO, one which proved to be an interesting novelty for a few parts and the other which Vern himself claims he'd not attempt again, if given the choice.

Another assumption that some of us are questioning as a result of these discusions: Twin engine advantages. Twin & Turbine has an excellent article in the Feb issue on this very subject which makes heavy reference to niner zulu's own examples: Pilatus and Socata. Certainly a subject for another Blog Entry, if not another Blog, but the old standby attitude (my own) that a twin is "safer" than a single, especially for low time pilots in type, really needs to be looked at carefully.

Bamba's questions here have to be taken seriously and answered honestly by the Eclipse Faithful. It basically comes down to Low Price at What Price?

Gunner

Ken Meyer said...

Gunner wrote,
"the old standby attitude (my own) that a twin is "safer" than a single, especially for low time pilots in type, really needs to be looked at carefully. "


You can actually infer some conclusions from looking at the NTSB data. Years ago, it was true that piston twins did not confer any additional safety on pilots, but that has changed in recent years, presumably because of insurance-mandated recurrent training.

In the latest NTSB annual summary, piston twins had an accident rate of 4.99 per 100,000 hours; piston singles were 7.99 per 100,000 hours, 60% more! If you factor in the likelihood that twins are flying more difficult flight profiles in more challenging weather, that difference becomes even more significant.

The NTSB data also make it clear that turboprops do not fare much better than piston twins (4.30 accidents per 100,000 flight hours). It isn't until you get into the jet realm that you get a significant improvement in safety (0.84 accidents per 100,000 flight hours).

The question of single vs twin turbine (as in Eclipse vs DiamondJet for instance) inherently hinges on turbine reliability. While turbines are perceived to be practically immune to failure, a quick perusal of the accident statistics for the PC-12 gives one pause: 27% of PC-12 accidents in the last 10 years were due to engine problems!

Probably when you test flew the Eclipse, you had an opportunity to see how docile the plane is with an engine out. I think Stan asked what the Vmc for the plane is. The answer is it is "lower than stall speed in all configurations." The point is that flying a piston twin may be a handful with an engine failure, but flying the Eclipse would not be. That fact, taken with the reality that turbines do fail periodically suggests that having the second engine in your plane is a decent idea.

There are, of course, a whole host of other reasons why an Eclipse is a better choice than a single-engine personal jet like the DiamondJet, but those are for another day.

Ken

Gunner said...

Ken-
Your stats are not valid as they are not adjusted for Pilot Experience. Of course light singles have the worst accident record. They have the highest number of low time pilots. Of course twin turbines have the best accident record. They have the highest percentage of two man crews and the highest percentage of tried and tested companies and designs. Eclipse offers neither.

As to SE stats, as has been said, look at the stats for TBM, Pilatus and Caravan.

But, back to my question which you seem to have missed.

Now, your turn:
How do you feel about the legal remedies that you've abdicated with the EA500?
Gunner

Ken Meyer said...

Gunner wrote,
"Your stats are not valid as they are not adjusted for Pilot Experience. Of course light singles have the worst accident record. They have the highest number of low time pilots."


You would think that, but it turns out the NTSB statistics do not support that contention:

Accident rate per thousand active pilots:

Students: 1.34
Private pilots: 2.95
Comm'l pilots: 4.93
ATPs: 1.65

It is not true that the lowest-time pilots have more accidents per pilot than higher time pilots. Unfortunately the FAA doesn't track hours flown separately for each type of certificate, you cannot adjust this data to reflect the likelihood that commercial pilots fly more than private pilots.

There was a very interesting analysis of single pilot jet safety reported in Flying Magazine a few months ago that counters your suggestion that the reason jets have a lower accident rate is that they are piloted by a two-pilot crew. If you're interested, we can get into it.

I'll answer your question about legal remedies a little later.

Ken

Gunner said...

Stats are invalid, again, Ken. They're not adjusted for the fact that Commercial Pilots fly probably 100X the hours of private pilots and are required by clients to fly in all manner of weather. Try again.

Oh, by the way, how do you feel about the legal remedies that you've abdicated with the EA500?
Gunner

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Ditto what Gunner said - the simple fact of the matter is that Jet aircraft require type ratings and are typically flown by a 'flight crew' rather than the 'owner'.

The VLJ craze might well result in a repeat of the accident scenarios we saw when the first 'affordable' high-performance aircraft was introduced (can you say v-tailed Doctor-killer?), and again when the next level of performance was introduced (can you say Malibu?). The Bonanza and the Malibu are both fantastic aircraft in their own right, but they both also introduced systems and capabilities that exceeded that of the very people who bought and flew them, with disastrous results.

Most PC-12's and TBM's are owner flown (when compared to Citations, GV's, etc.) and that more than anything is why the accident rates are higher.

Looking specifically to In Flight Shut Downs, the safety record for single-engine turboprops (0.41 per million flight hours - 5.43 Million hours) is over 2 times better than for turboprop twins (0.89 per million hours - 5.62 million hours).

The single driving safety issue is flight crew qualifications and training. This is borne out by accident statistics that place pilot error (CFIT, continued VFR into IMC, fuel starvation, improper loading, improper airpseed management, etc.) as the leading cause of accidents (still over half of ALL accidents). Mechanical failure of all kinds remains a distant second at 20% of all accidents.

Add to that the benefit of having a second officer as most multi-turbine aircraft are flown by a crew of 2, and you can see that Eclipse (and their supporters) are comparing apples to oranges (what a surprise) by taking advantage of the safety record of professionally flown aircraft and suggesting their airplane will be the same solely because it has two jet engines.

Is it Cherry or Grape?

Ken Meyer said...

Gunner wrote,
"Stats are invalid, again, Ken. They're not adjusted for the fact that Commercial Pilots fly probably 100X the hours of private pilots and are required by clients to fly in all manner of weather. Try again."


Gunner, you said "the old standby attitude (my own) that a twin is "safer" than a single, especially for low time pilots in type, really needs to be looked at carefully." I was merely telling you that the NTSB has, in fact, looked at that very issue and found twins have a lower accident rate than singles. You're now trying to explain that it might be due to pilot experience, and that might be. But, for whatever reason, the bottom line remains the same: piston twins in fact have a lower accident rate than piston singles.

Furthermore, turboprops do not provide much reduction in accident rate (which of course goes against your experience theory), but jets do.

There are many reasons why jets have a lower accident rate, and the data suggest that it is NOT simply because many of them are crewed by two professional pilots.

I think ColdWetMackarelofReality's contention that Eclipse pilots are latching onto twin turbine accident rates and assuming theirs will be the same is unsubstantiated. I don't believe I said that; there may be others that have, but in any event I do not agree with it.

Ken

Ken Meyer said...

Gunner wrote,
"Oh, by the way, how do you feel about the legal remedies that you've abdicated with the EA500?"


I think that's a stretch, Gunner, to presuppose you know what may or may not be in a contract I may or may not have with Eclipse. You're guessing, and many of your guesses so far have been wrong :)

I do think Eclipse is playing hardball with the contract. And why not? They've got what many perceive to be the very best alternative in its class, indeed the only alternative in its class.

I find it very telling that the company asks for very favorable terms from its customers and suppliers. It says to me that they have the leverage to drive the process. Whether the contract is unfavorable or not, hundreds of people have signed with Eclipse. You may think they're stupid, but I don't think that. I think the customers are able to perceive a good aircraft that is an extraordinary value for the dollar.

And there is something else that the contract suggests--contrary to the musings of this group, if the company were truly on the verge of bankruptcy, do you think they'd hold out for all these contract terms?? Nope; if they were about to fold, they'd sign a contract saying anything the customer wanted as long as he sent the money. The hardball contract is one reason we can surmise that they are not in dire financial straits, notwithstanding the wishes of some of you who got burned by their hardball tactics.

Ken

Gunner said...

I got it, Ken. I got it the first time.

Statistically, what your numbers prove is the following:
If A = B
And C = D
Then E = [Whatever Ken would like it to Equal, so long as Ken references the words "the data suggests"]

The data "suggests" nothing, Ken. Your conclusions suggest that, for chest surgery, we're better off with an intern than a 20 year veteran; for Ferari tranny problems, we're better off with Joe's Garage than a factory trained team.

My own responses prove that it's impolite for me to play with my food. I just couldn't help it; was just messin' witcha.

But, tell me this:
How do you feel about the legal remedies that you've abdicated with the EA500?
Gunner

airtaximan said...

Ken,

your a funny guy.

How's Eclipse feel about their hardball tactics with Avedyne?

How did their contract with Williams work out?

Both suppliers seemed to suck up a ton of E-cash, and failed to deliver what they contracted for -

Nice procurement terms.
Not even a lawsuit...

Kinda strange

Gunner said...

AT-
Uncorrborated (at this point) word on the street is that AERAZUR, the company selected to design and manufacture the deicing boots finally got fed up and left recently.

Can you spell "FIKI any day now"?
Gunner

airtaximan said...

Regarding the stats offered here that are supposed to mean something...

At NBAA Vern made a case for the air taxi market, by refering to statistics that show the 10 largest metropolitain areas are shrinking.

His point: air taxi would avoid congested areas, and service these new markets, away from the cities.

My partner (smarter than me) turned to me laughing and said:
I wonder where these people are moving to?

Funny, if they are moving to other metro areas (north to south, for example)the shrinking metros are displaced by new largest ones.

So, the argument, however well articulated and confident (almost arrogant) is bull. Why do I think that Vern knew the second part of the story, and just omitted it? (track record)

Another funny point: Dayjet Boss Iaccobucci (a few minutes later) tried to make the case for Dayjet HELPING reduce traffic at the major airports. He used Verns logic (above) of avoiding the congested airports and airspace in these new markets.

In the same breath, making another point, Iaccobucci said his "definition of success" would be if Dayjet never took one airline or charter passenger away from them - his business was completely different, and his customer was the guy in the car.

- OK. Riddle me this Batman: How will you relieving ATC congestion if you follow Verns residents who have moved from one major metro area, to another? ALSO, How will it help the system if you are taking people out of cars and placing them on planes? THIS ADDS TRAFFIC.

Like so much of the crap we see out of these outfits...once you look beneath the well crafted (crafty) statements - IT MAKES NO SENSE.

Some intersting stats:
safest form of air travel? See below

- by accidents per person mile?
space shuttle

- by number of accidents per passenger?
elevator

Stats usually raise more questions than they answer - and we should be suspect of anyone trying to use them to sell anything. There's usually more insight in the explanation, becasue a case can be made for pretty much anything, using stats.

Intuition is better, for most important decisions. Also, keeping track of the track record....

bambazonke said...

Ken,

Something your stats omit are the fatalities, accidents are one thing, the item that drives the insurance rates up are the fatalities. When you factor these in your twin piston accident numbers don't look very good. To equate the safety of an Eclipse with other twin turbine equipment is ludicrous, the other twin turbine equipment will always be much better because the pilots will always have more experience, irrespective of not having attended upset training. Remember, the number of accidents as a result of equipment failure, particularly fatal ones, pale into insignificance when compared with human error, and the results thereof. You need to get into the numbers a little deeper before making the sweeping statements and aligning these to Eclipse forecasts for safety.

Back to the contract, does your contract have the terms I described? I suppose you will invoke the confidentiality clause.. O.K. how about addressing the questions that Gunner and I have asked directly; How do you feel about Eclipse position holders waiving their families rights away along with those of the insurer who is underwriting the product? Have you ever heard of another aircraft manufacturer making these kinds of onerous demands? I was hoping to get these answers over the weekend, because I know you will be back on Monday with KKA version of a response and all will be lost...

So mano o mano How do you feel about the legal remedies that you've abdicated with the EA500?.

Metal Guy said...

I too have heard the unconfirmed rumor that they are looking for a new company to do the de-ice. No idea how big of a tear up but what they have does not appear to work for some reason.

BTY, Garmin passed on the cool aid but Eclipse certainly tried to get them on board, apparently more than once. Eclipse was there to teach them boys how to make money, which, as you can imagine, didn't go over too well and they got showed the door. No Garmin for you!

bambazonke said...

Since January 1st 2007:
45 days - New Wonder-Jet CofA's: Projected 59, Actual 0. Lost revenue $70.8m.

AJ said...

LATEST RUMOR:

I hear that the latest FAA visit didn't go to well. Expect PC now hopefully sometime in April at the earliest. Hope it isn't true.

Bambazonke: Eclipse makes money on their appearal and poster sales so your estimate on $70.8 million in lost revenue probably isn't 100% accurate. Just helping Ken Meyer keep you in check :)

Green-or-Red said...

In addition to the LATEST RUMOR...I heard that the FAA audit team went home last Friday. It could be a while....

twinpilot said...

Regarding insurance and waivers:
I have always heard that you can't sign away your rights. Anything can and will be litigated if there is enough money there for the ambulance chasers (lawyers). Maybe the contract will help E-Clips when they have their first fatality, but it may have no effect. I would think the insurance company would have to charge more for an E-Clips if they knew the lawyers weren't going to be able to get some money from the manufacturer, and would have to get it all from them. By the way, insurance companies charge more to cover airplanes that are more than 18 yrs. old because they feel the manufacturer is no longer perceived to be on the hook. This country needs the British system where the prevailing party has their costs paid by the person bringing the suit.

Regarding single vs. twin:
I agree that you can prove or disprove anything with statistics. So I just go with common sense. If you have an engine failure over the pine forest, or the mountains, or over water too far from shore to make an airport, or at night, would you like to be in a twin engine airplane or a single? You might say that statistically it is highly unlikely. I hope you are the same person who says it is also unlikely to have an engine failure on a twin just at rotation. You are logging more hrs. over hostile terrain than you are at rotation, so statistically you might say the hostile terrain failure is more likely. However, statistics don't come into play for me. I vote for two engines.

The Cirrus has a parachute. Why? According to the company it is for an engine failure since you only have one engine. I have talked to a lot of pilots and nearly 95% agree it is a good idea. Common sense. I would still rather continue to the closest suitable airport with a twin than descend on the chute into the mountains or the ocean, but it is better than the alternative if you only have one engine.

If you have been convinced by the advertising of single engine manufacturers, or the editors of the magazines where they advertise that you are too incompetent to fly a twin then I suggest you are far too incompetent to fly IFR or in a complex airplane! Fly the airlines for travel and get a sport plane for day VFR fun. (By the way, airliners have multiple engines. Makes sense to me.) The twin rating is the easiest to get because it is very simple. You just fly a twin around on one engine for five to ten hrs. until you are competent.
Why would the manufacturers be pushing single engine turbines? BECAUSE THEY MAKE MORE MONEY. One engine is cheaper for them to buy than two and since the buying public is convinced they are incompetent to fly a twin they will pay as much for a single as they would a twin.

With the exception of aluminum construction, two engines is about the only correct decision E-Clips has made so far.

Stan Blankenship said...

aj,

Your latest revelation is a blockbuster and has nearly silenced both sides.

If true, Eclipse won't be able to continue 'business as usual.'An April PC was probably not in Vern's playbook.

As airtaximan has been writing, Eclipse is hemorrhaging money.

The company is probably living on the 60% progress payments extorted from the first 200 position holders (who were told they could expect delivery by the end of June).

With the position holders tapped out and under the circumstances, an IPO is probably out of the question which leaves new outside investors or leaning on the existing investors as the only likely source of additional funding.

Another alternative of course is to cut costs, read layoffs. But the company has worked hard to attract the skills and train people to produce airplanes; put em on the beach and you might not get em back.

We all will just have to watch for statements coming out of ABQ in the coming days.

EclipseBlogger said...

Bambazonke said... To equate the safety of an Eclipse with other twin turbine equipment is ludicrous, the other twin turbine equipment will always be much better because the pilots will always have more experience, irrespective of not having attended upset training... You need to get into the numbers a little deeper before making the sweeping statements and aligning these to Eclipse forecasts for safety.

It seems that you fall into the same trap. First you make a rather bold statement about the safety records of the "more experienced" twin-turbine pilots, then you tell Ken he needs to look deeper into HIS numbers. What's up with that? Just because someone owns a twin-turbine, you feel they are more experienced - and someone piloting an Eclipse is not? Something is flawed here. Many of the Eclipse customers are pilots coming from single and twin-turboprops, and and larger jets looking for something smaller and more economical. There are, of course, many Mooney customers too. But neither should necessarily equate to the relative safety of the pilot, aircraft, or mission profile - it's just not that simple.

Bambazonke said... how about addressing the questions that Gunner and I have asked directly; How do you feel about Eclipse position holders waiving their families rights away along with those of the insurer who is underwriting the product?

I'm no lawyer, but from what I do know about litigation, one cannot simple sign away product liability. If a product is found to be faulty and causes harm, the fact that the manufacturer has a signed piece of paper does not make them immune to law suits. They may have a case for recovery of legal fees if the customer prevails. Also for all of you that have a signed waiver for your passengers to sign before you take them flying, that won't help you all that much either. You can't simple sign away liability, and have no responsibility for negligence.

Gunner said... AT- Uncorroborated (at this point) word on the street is that AERAZUR, the company selected to design and manufacture the deicing boots finally got fed up and left recently.

then...

Metal Guy said...
I too have heard the unconfirmed rumor that they are looking for a new company to do the de-ice. No idea how big of a tear up but what they have does not appear to work for some reason.

Again, this is typical of the rumor mill around here. First Gunner said that AERAZUR "finally got fed up and left recently." My interpretation is that he was saying it is another business relationship gone bad. Then MetalHead picks it up and expounds that the boots don't work. I have no knowledge of either report as being true or not, but it seems to me that one rumor is just feeding another - unsubstantiated of course.

Where's Paul when we need him?

EclipseBlogger said...

By the way, here's a quote posted on ANN, and other aviation news venues, talking about the recent windshields (over on dozen) that were found cracking at DEN this past week:

"Only the outermost layer was affected" on all the planes, SkyWest spokewoman Marissa Snow said. The inner "failsafe" layer held, and no emergencies were reported.

This quote sounds the same, almost word-for-word, as the statement in the customer communication from Eclipse that everyone here went ballistic over and criticised.

airtaximan said...

Twin,

"With the exception of aluminum construction, two engines is about the only correct decision E-Clips has made so far."

A company whose value proposition is clearly "the cheapest" jet, chose twin Williams FJX-2..er, I mean EJ22. These reportedly cost less than a single FL33 or FJ44. Pratt is not supplying Diamond or Piper for their singles, so I imagine, their engine is more than these two in the respective thrust-class.

My point - E-clips made the "right decision" for twin, based ona fantasy-engine option that never materialized. From a risk standpoint, this was likly the worst decision possible for an engine. Today, somehow, I bet, Vern would choose a single Pratt.

It would keep the cost down. That's his market.

From airtaximan's POV, the single or the twin E-clips does-not-a-taxi-plane-make. Volume production (lower cost...see V-plan page 1) of a larger more capable, more durable plane, does.

airtaximan said...

EB,

yeah, I had the exact same thought when I read the news...until...

I realized the conditions that gave rise to the winshield problems on the airliners in question.

change your name to "stretch armstrong"

in any case, the FAA was right to ground in both cases.

Metal Guy said...

Ok, EB - To clarify, I heard directly from a top executive at a large aerospace firm that Eclipse was talking to them about replacing the De-ice system.

Perhaps their existing de-ice was simply too pricy, I have no idea. Perhaps the executive was lying, I again have no idea. What part of the word rumor don't you understand?

If Gunner heard the same thing from an entirely different source (which he must have), then this is most likely NOT just rumor feeding rumor.

Are you stating for 100% fact that Eclipse is not talking to other vendors for de-ice solutions?

Gunner said...

TwinPilot-
Don't get me wrong. In a firefight, distance is your friend. In an aircraft, redundancy is your friend. I, too, am a twin owner these past 15 or so years. I've had occasion to land single engine in pretty lousy conditions. It wasn't fun; it was hardly a bed wetter.

But not all twin engine aircraft are the same; some will burn you quick at full power and require better than immediate action; instantaneous action. And the reason so many engine failures ARE at full power, is because of the laws of physics...that's when you're pushing them to their max.

I also agree that night flight over mountains or unpopulated areas, and over-water flights in a single are begging for trouble. But, then, I'm not in the air taxi business and I never have to be anywhere (in my plane) at an appointed time.

Cost IS a factor in aircraft purchase and we all make these cost-benefit decisions. If we didn't, each of us would maintain a proficient co-pilot on retainer and take him up every time we fly.

What I'm getting at is two things:
1) A man has to know his limitations. If you intend flying (slow) at 41K feet for about 200 hours per year, there is simply no way you will be as efficient or proficient as the guys who do it for a living. And, when things go bad up there, they go REAL bad.

2) For some of us, the cost benefit of a single, especially a parachute equipped single like Diamond, might make sense. (I've not yet decided, in my own case.) Look at the rate of engine failure in jets vs prop engines or turboprops and it becomes apparent that a D-Jet is not just a fast moving Cessna 182.

Ultimately, though, I'd probably compare the safety of an SE Jet, made by a company that's been around 25 years, with an impeccable safety record to the twin offering from a start-up whom I did not trust and who needed me (and my family) to sign away any rights to legal remedies for their own negligence.

Eclipse has come a very long way. By rights, it should have gone the way of the FoxJet with the Williams engine fiasco. The fact that they rebounded and reached certification is a testimony to the company and to Vern, in particular (regardless of who he convinced to put up the bail-out money). But their corporate culture, set from the top, does not engender a great outpouring of trust in their ultimate product.

Gunner

Gunner said...

EB said:
one cannot simple sign away product liability

Then why include such language in the contract AND include a waiver of Insurer rights to boot? Either the company thinks they can make it stick, or they have terrible attorneys (which calls into question their decisions for vendors, systems and design, for instance) or someone in a decision making position is suffering from megalomania (which, again, calls into question their decisions for vendors, systems and design).

But tell me, Ken and EO:
How do you feel about the legal remedies that you've abdicated with the EA500?
Gunner

Stan Blankenship said...

This question is for either eb or eo387.

If you have a plumber come to your house to fix a leaky faucet, you have the right to ask for proof the fellow has liability insurance.

Have either of you asked if Eclipse has product liability insurance or if they intend to self-insure?

Ken Meyer said...

Gunner wrote,
"How do you feel about the legal remedies that you've abdicated with the EA500?"


Asked and answered.

" A man has to know his limitations. If you intend flying (slow) at 41K feet for about 200 hours per year, there is simply no way you will be as efficient or proficient as the guys who do it for a living. And, when things go bad up there, they go REAL bad."

I can understand why you might not feel safe at FL410, but if you're suggesting that the flight levels are inherently unsafe for a properly-trained owner/pilot, I think there is simply no evidence of that. Do you have any data to support your contention?

Ken

Gunner said...

Ken-
No you haven't answered the question. Instead, you've danced around it providing one of three scenarios:

1) You do have a contract but negotiated these clauses out because you agree they are as onerous as we do.

2) You do not have a contract, and you couldn't care how onerous the purchase agreement is.

3) It's only natural that Eclipse would drive a hard bargain since they have the best jet in class. This is a contradiction in logic, since any pilot would place "safety" first on the checklist for "best". If the jet is the best (safest) in its class, why would the company seek to protect itself from its own potential negligence? Answer: Because it is not as certain as you that it is the "best" (safest) in class.

So, now that we've established that you've pointedly avoided the answer, tell me this:

How do you feel about the legal remedies that Eclipse demands its depositors abdicate in writing?
Gunner

airtaximan said...

Gunner,

It's obvious to me who the e-buyers are... those who could swallow the e-hook. Their psyche allows them tremendous latitude in support of their opinions/decisions, but none for the contrary.

Careful, honest and experienced contrary opinions are dismissed. Insightful questions are mocked, not answered.

Their own "statements" are given as "answers", even though they do not address the heart of the matter.

The word "like-minded" comes to mind - any wonder they follow Mr V-burn?

I say, recognize it for what it is, and stop asking the saem question. You've already exhausted the point - there is no good direct answer coming.

Move on.

twinpilot said...

Airtaximan and Gunner,

I agree E-Clips was always fantasy at 795K with two yet to be developed EJ 22's. I always thought it would cost 1.7 to 1.9 million and to be viable for me at least it needed two fan engines. I find numerous flaws in the design and the company has absolutely no credibility. It is too flawed for me to ever consider buying one but I am just saying that 2 engines are better than one for that price as long as it flies on one and especially if it stalls below VMC. I agree some twins are a joke but some have a high HP to WT ratio and perform nicely on one engine, and I only fly those.

I have no doubt that given the choice today VR might choose a single engine, but that is not possible without a complete redesign (not that it wouldn't be a good thing) read 61 knot or 65 knot (with demonstrated crash worthiness) stalling speed, spin recovery etc. etc. I disagree that he ever intended the E-Clips to be a low cost jet. That was just puffing so he could sell a lot of positions. He never intended to keep those promises. That kind of honesty is for the dinosaurs. Even the contract didn't lock him into those prices. I remember reading that the buyer was locked into the price if he wanted to sell but the company wasn't.

The cost of an all metal twin fan jet aircraft like the E-Clips should be about 1.2 to 1.3 million and you should be profitable at a 1.8 million selling price making say 250 per year. Yes Piper has way more credibility than E-Clips. Everyone with a production certificate does. If you are in the 1.3 million retail price category then the Diamond with a parachute has value. I think they will sell a lot of them. If you think you can't possible sell a twin fan jet airplane for 1.6 million, just add the cost of one fan jet engine to the 1.3 Diamond is asking and you have your answer. The Piper at 2.1 or whatever does not have value. Here is a prediction: The Piper jet will never be certified as it is presently configured. It is just some blue sky so the owners of Piper can sell the company and get out of the aviation industry. I guess I am not drinking the Koolaid on that one either.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

FWIW - I have seen disclaimers like that before, in purchase contracts, for aircraft.

I should specify that it was for kit-aircraft kits (think Van's) and for completed kit aircraft, NOT for certified aircraft.

I cannot imagine an insurer (or a spouse) signing on to that knowingly - guessing that whatever the favored insurer is now (they are on like their third 'favored' insurer as I recall) has either NOT seen that clause (and why should they, they are not the purchaser), or they are confident the clause is unenforceable (which begs questions about the validity\strength of vendor contracts, employment contracts, and other contracts).

Given that the aircraft has always been a big hit at Sun N' Fun and Oshkosh, maybe the kitplane-like 'please don't sue us' contract clause makes sense.

For the money and the performance, the TBM 850 looks better every day (roomier too I think) - heck even a used TBM 700.

Funny how each point brought up results in childish attempts at 'slamming' the person asking - e.g., Gunner points out the REAL hazards of flying in the high FL's and Ken tries to make Gunner out as baeing afraid to fly there, insinuating he may not be a competent pilot.

I predict ATC and the airlines will get very tired, very quickly, of having these sluggish gnat-jets mucking up the works, even with RVSM, resulting in them being 'operationally' limited to less crowded altitudes.

Seems to me that this Blog has proven to be very accurate despite EB and Ken's protestations to the contrary.

Grounding prior to AOPA broke here first - Eclipse owned up to it 3 WEEKS later. No matter how certain mental gymnasts try to spin it, the rear wing attach issue was an admitted design flaw that resulted in design and installation changes to ALL aircraft.

Basic structural reliability issues (windows and windshields) broke here first - Eclipse owned up to them later as well and has yet to certify a reasonable inspection\replacement timeframe for the structural windshields or cockpit side windows.

Reports of improperly chem-milled skins first surfaced here - later identified as not being structurally significant, but certainly process significant as it relates to Eclipse's desire for PC. This too has been independently verified.

Just those three issues alone should give anyone in que to pony up a $500,000 or more progress payment reason to pause.

Current gouge is there are issues with tire and brake failures - including a supposedly recent event with a film-crew on board (was provided by an admitted inside source but Eclipse and the aviation media have not said anything yet which makes it 'unverified').

There are reports that Avio went COMPLETELY dark on a cross-country.

There are reports that the PC may not be imminent as Vern has been promising, since December.

There are reports that a systems vendor may have either been 'fired' or 'quit'.

If history is any guide, it is only a matter of time before ALL of the above issues are borne out to be true.

Many of the folks who comment here have qualifications well beyond being a professional spin doctor for Eclipse, or having enough risk capital to play airplane speculator or would-be Jet Jockey.

Many of us are professional pilots, engineers, and industry professionals who have a sacred-interest in ensuring our industry remains the safest that it can be.

Some of the posters here apparently either currently work for or have worked for Eclipse and have found that their concerns fall on deaf ears within the company.

Remember, this is an airplane, not a computer. A systems crash at FL350 in hard IMC is a disappointment when flying your wonderjet in Microsoft Flight Simulator X - in the real world, it can injure or kill people and destroy property.

It may be acceptable in the software industry to release a sub-par product with a like-it-or-lump-it attitude, it is something else entirely to deliver a (to-date) single copy of a sub-standard aircraft, while berating your experienced competition and demanding respect for achieving goals that have been missed by a significant margin.

Ken Meyer said...

Coldwet said,
"Funny how each point brought up results in childish attempts at 'slamming' the person asking - e.g., Gunner points out the REAL hazards of flying in the high FL's and Ken tries to make Gunner out as baeing afraid to fly there, insinuating he may not be a competent pilot."


I think you missed the point. If a guy feels FL410 is unsafe for himself that's fine. If he's going to announce it is unsafe for everybody who is not a professional pilot, that's an opinion that is not worth anything without one of two forms of backing:

1. We all know the guy and his reputation, so we take his opinion straight out because of his stature in the community. He is an "expert witness" on the matter. Does that apply here? Nope; we don't even know who Gunner really is other than he was unhappy with how Eclipse dealt with him.

2. The guy provides some independent evidence of his claim. If Gunner is right, he should have little trouble finding data in the NTSB reports to support his contention.

Since Gunner doesn't meet #1, I asked him to meet #2.

Ken

bill e. goat said...

Long discourse follows! (cold weather breeds such things- let's hope Springtime, and the hum of insects and E-500's fills the air soon!).


I'm a Kool-Aid-Kid, I suppose. Not overly enthusiastically so, but from some sort of anthropological (“cultural, social, linguistics”-ha- “Eclipse-speak”) point of view, I find it a curiosity, that makes observing the industry more interesting. I am glad to see something “new” out there (well, in the Eclipse hangars, anyway- not quite “out there” in service), but it seems the term “new” wore out a couple of years ago- now it is just more of the same, at a cheaper price, with less capability. Sort of like, “but we were going to be first, then we weren't, but maybe we still are, depending on how you define first”. First or not, I think it is (going be to) a nice airplane, with a nice price. (Even if it is almost double the initial price target. And took at least twice as long to develop as expected. And doesn't quite do everything it was supposed to).

In my humble opinion, I present the following. Which, given the thoroughness and obvious breadth of knowledge of fellow bloggers, all of which has most likely already been hashed out sometime in the past. I just discovered this blog in December 2006, after trying to find out why there are no Eclipses in service. (I'm not an extremist, and have enjoyed all the postings on this blog, except for the occasional -and thankfully rare- surly posting. Let's have fun here! If you are p.o.'d, direct it at Eclipse for not having delivered yet. Or yourself for not having bought one "when they were cheap"! Either way, our fellow bloggers are contributing insightful opinions, even if you don't agree. If you have corrections, please post them, if you have differing opinions, please post them too. Just don't be bash'n, now! I don't even like to hammer our fellow aviation enthusiasts at Eclipse- even those in the marketing/media department- they are people too, with families to feed and mortgages to pay. I do somewhat disapprove of some of the Eclipse PR hype, but it is directed, and approved, from top-level management, I am sure, and they are just trying to be faithful, creative, and tasteful in the execution of management's directives. I don't even personally attack Eclipse management- I think they are trying to do what is good for the investors, customers, employees, and indirectly, the industry (perhaps stimulating the VLJ market like IBM stimulated the market for desktop PC's, although in this case, who is riding whose coat tails is a matter of conjecture- ha. It is worth noting, that IBM was making money from other products, to underwrite the PC development. My simple- maybe overly simplistic- takes on financial matters are mentioned below- I would particularly appreciate observations and corrections regarding these- I think as propeller-heads, or turbine-heads, we all more or less appreciate the technical difficulties- the finances are more obscure- deliberately so, being privately held, I suppose, but none the less, fascinating- how Eclipse can have stayed afloat for so long. Somewhat of an injustice to other nice programs that didn't have such gracious financial backing. But, life isn't always fair. Maybe someday NASA will more directly benefit the taxpayer and our industrial base, by more directly, and effectively, helping some of these other start up companies- way cheaper than going to Mars or the Moon (more about that later- stay tuned!). My take on Eclipse finances probably doesn't do justice to the hard work on fund raising efforts VR has done, and his unfaltering efforts to keep the enterprise afloat, and his earnest perseverance to honor the pledge to deliver safe and quality product, and his commitment to investors and employees. (I think his occasional rather curt and crude dismissal of conventional wisdom, or convention (or wisdom -ha- just kidding) in general, for that matter, has irritated many in the industry. In the press, he has sometimes slurred honest assessment and observation into criticism, which comes across as being arrogant and bellicose. If Eclipse had delivered as promised when promised, then he could perhaps have pulled this off as “I told you so”. It doesn't play so well now, and indeed, it was probably (hopefully) just theatrics, and those lines have been put away somewhere (at some secret undisclosed location, along with Dick Cheney, Iraq's WMD, the real numbers on the national debt, the plans to Phostrex, and of late, Rummy- sorry, I won't wander into national politics, again, and would appreciate no responses in this regard). There was an old joke, that E-500 pressurization wasn't going to be an issue- everyone was going to be on oxygen themselves by the time the airplanes were delivered. Please- there is no disrespect to anyone's age here (don't care if you are 20 or 80)- it's a joke (rather clever one at that, I thought, when I heard it). At any rate, Vern IS an airplane guy, and probably none of us have started our own airplane company with 1000+ employees or so (although, I am sure many of our blog-mates are distinguished and accomplished and entrepreneurs, with smaller aviation-related businesses, and perhaps even larger non-aircraft related businesses. But, none of us have so vehemently stuck our foot in our mouth, so many times, in retrospect -ha!). So, by virtue of Vern being “an airplane guy”, I'll give him a get out of jail card (maybe the investors will too- ha again!). He is trying his absolute best to deliver the best product as soon as humanly possible (he just didn't know the real-world aircraft business when he started out. Perhaps we can all be grateful of that, or he might not have got in the game. How do you make a small fortune in the aircraft industry? Start out with a big fortune! :)


So, here we go!

Stir weld seems to be a bunch of hooey. Nice idea (maybe), if applied to 100,000 units per year, or 10,000. For 300 units per year (*see below), it sounds like an exciting new way to do a simple old job, at great development expense. Not bad, if you don't have anything else to do- like, develop airplanes.

Avidyne? Pretty cool. Eventually. Probably. (? By the end of this year? What I don't get, is why, with two or three extra years of development time available due to the engine difficulties, are the avionics so far behind? No flying test bed? Wasn't there a whiz-bang SIL of sorts? How grossly underfunded and under-scoped this aspect must have been- C130J all over again (see, even the big guys get it wrong- way late, way over budget). (In Eclipse's case, perhaps lean-manufacturing-think was at work: maybe okay for manufacturing: bad, very bad, for development though, or so it appears). I suppose Eclipse just thought Avidyne would “make it happen”. I suspect Avidyne thought "what would happen” was Eclipse would go belly-up after the engine vendor change, and didn't put much effort into it. (I can't help but wonder, could Williams have gotten the engine right, in the time it took Pratt to deliver?- anyone know some details here?). Avionics-wise, there really doesn't seem to be anything radical here (unless it is compared to a decade or two ago). Massive integration a breakthrough?- maybe, although it looks like a mistake now, given the apparent immaturity of the vendor (I also can't help but wonder, why didn't Eclipse have a "plan B", or in this case, a "plan A", to have steam gages and a base model, then go bells and whistles with a later "B model", and use the A model as a flying test bed). Avionics price breakthrough- maybe, eventually, after one or two thousand shipsets are delivered- how long will that take? But functionality? It is a very nice suite (once it starts working, and I feel it will), but there is some real competition out there lately, and Eclipse is still strapped in to Avidyne, due to the "integrated" architecture that both companies agreed upon. There is no flexibility- any changes will be costly and time consuming (whoa, where did that come from! :) . (Well, auto-throttles are sort of avante-guard- and, ?completely non-functional at present?- anyone know the story here?). Low light/IR imaging, synthetic vision, and HUDs seem to be the only really new things during the past few years- none of which Eclipse has. The cockpit doesn't have room for a HUD, and I'm not sure the Avidyne system has the flexibility or growth potential to accept imagery. With enough time and money though... Not to slam our favorite little jet (or favorite topic, anyway) too hard though, as nothing else anywhere near the price does either. Yet. But still, for the money spent on b.s. press releases and spin control over the years, I think some of these really could have been rolled in, or at least portions of these technologies. Maybe that's where the E-501 or whatever comes along).

Structural problems? Probably some relatively minor field service issues (please- no more bushing-bashing discussion. That could have been serious. WAY serious. But was caught in time. (Anyone know the story here? Discovered maybe during a dedicated inspection (?), pilot squawk (?), or other maintenance during fairing removals?- which with early model planes, I suspect is going to be happening a lot, so there will be plenty of; annoying, if serendipitous, opportunities to inspect things otherwise taken for granted). At any rate, it only affected the flight test planes. I think the first 100 or 200 airplanes ARE going to be flight test airplanes, in one sense or another. Certainly, it is normal to have some "growing pains", and I think all new models, from any company, have these, it's just hat the problems are normally worked out during the first year of production- in Eclipse's case, this will be (maybe? a couple hundred. Is there any truth to a rumor I heard that customer airplanes start with s/n 200, to try to "spin" around this potential issue? And if anyone really thinks they are not getting a flight test airplane, well, I have a bridge to sell you, and I'm going to design it by embracing disruptive technologies and build it with stir welding (ha!- don't mean to be cruel It will work out okay, I think, and hopefully our friends in the FAA will make sure safety is not an issue. I do think dispatch rates will be a little more problematic though).

Engines? This is the real breakthrough (well, sort of). Nice job, Pratt. I don't see them as terribly revolutionary, just unusual in the size (and price). I suspect nobody went into this market earlier not due to technical concerns, but due to financial concerns- if there isn't a big demand for a lot of planes (read, engine sets- or of late, single engines), then it would be impossible to amortize the development costs, particularly on a low cost, low volume platform. I guess Pratt sees the combined markets of VLJ manufacturers being worth it. To the credit of VLJ boosters, I think the engine companies market research is generally superior to airframers. (I also notice that nobody else is building 1000-1500 lb thrust engines- apparently the general consensus is that the market is big enough for one manufacturer- in this case Pratt- but not big enough for more than one). I would propose Williams doesn't stink as bad as some opinions suggest. I think they short changed the tax payers on the NASA General Aviation Propulsion System initiative (forerunner of what “sparked” the somewhat smoldering flame of VLJ development (guess the development fire is going strong, but sales, or at least deliveries, are still just a flicker- ha). I would also directly reproach NASA's gross bureaucratic incompetence, as well** (see below, again- am I hitting below the belt? No, just below the main discussion! ). Somehow, I get the feeling Williams sort of got suckered into the Eclipse thing- maybe they were afraid to admit defeat on the NASA job, or wanted more time to work the bugs out, or maybe it was truly idealism (power for the people, baby! I think Sam Williams was sincere, if unsuccessful, in this lowest-end product- whatever the motives, it was an abysmal failure. I don't want to slam good intentions though). Maybe someone at NASA (or ex-NASA) will have the guts to spill the beans on this, someday.

Flight into known icing? Seems pretty important, especially for the air taxi service. Maybe the pneumatic boots caused too much drag? Maybe too complex, given the availability of some non-bleed air alternatives? Figure it will get squared away, sometime this year. Seems like it took a little post-cert work by Cessna too (although, it was weather delays in Cessna's case- looks like the Eclipse delay is just plain like too much on the plate here right now- figure by the time they get done eating all the meal on their plate, they'll be a little overweight- ha!).

Flying qualities? Reportedly, pretty good. Better safe (albeit slow, or slower) than sorry! Well, something is going right. No VG's, maybe a stall trip strip or two? Can anyone comment on this?

Customer support? TBD. (So far, a neat web site! Just kidding. Really, TBD. Probably, since it is a new company, a little rocky for a couple of years. Seems Eclipse recognizes the importance, and doing good ground work, and with “high volume production”, where should be lots of donor vehicles available on the production line, unless “just in time” malarkey botches things up).

I think by the end of the year, everyone will be more or less satisfied with the outcome of this adventure. I think the owners (or, remaining owners-in-waiting) will be satisfied with their planes. Those who would not be, have already bailed, out of understandable frustration and skepticism. Will they be sorry they bailed? No. Will those that didn't bail be sorry? No. And, I think the investors will be relieved that they will eventually get most of their investment back; with a profit? Hmmmm. But after waiting so long for any incoming product-related cash (other than gift shop sales- ha), just breaking even itself will be a modest relief. Any other start up company that would have performed so utterly, abysmally miserably on schedule would have been a total write-off. I reiterate, that in the aircraft business, the Eclipse schedule, although quite disappointing, is not that historically unusual. But for a company with no other product sales to offset these losses, this magnitude of the delays and cost overruns must surely be unprecedented in the annals of aviation, and probably American industry in general). A lot of the disappointment is due to dashed hopes, so far. A lot of the delays and associated disappointment, are due principally to a management philosophy that has been (dare I say “was” ?...not quite yet) wildly naive, and entrenched and ardently absurdly actively willfully ignorant of industry norms. No personal attacks intended here, and Eclipse seems to be learning fast, accruing both technical acumen and industry savvy (and, a perhaps a fair dose of overdue, due cautious conservatism on schedule, and probably, on feature-richness and price-point).

Well, that about wraps it up (except for the rants section). Looks like the next opportunity for “stuntsmanship” will be Fun and Sun. Whats next, a “Provisional PC”?

Rants:
(*More than 300 units per year? Please. I read that something like 6000 King Air variants have been built (models 90, 100, 99, queen air, king air, 200, 300, 350, blah blah blah- don't get me wrong- very nice airplane, especially the new C90GT). So, it is not unrealistic to figure Eclipse (might) build 6000 E-500's (or derivatives, such as E-500B, 501, 502, 500GT, 500XL, 500 Turbo, etc). It took Beech, say, 40+ years; maybe if the business climate is favorable, Eclipse can do it in 20 (+/-) years. I figure there will be about $750M invested in the company and program by the end of 2007. $750M/6K = $125K per airplane amortization. Interest drives price up, beau coup tax write offs drive it down, maybe a draw. I can see why the purchasers stay with the program- no direct alternatives- I agree Cessna and Embraer have really nice planes, and are worth the extra cost, and Cirrus and Diamond build nice products on the lower end, but the Eclipse still has it's market niche to themselves- lots of folks closing in, from both sides, though: but none with the deep pockets to support starting an infrastructure from scratch, over the period of darn near a decade, with NO money coming in from other products. What I don't get, is why the big dollar guys stay with it. I suppose, no option- pull the plug and loose everything, or be satisfied to eventually get a full return, over 10 years or something like that. Lots of tax games, maybe make it tolerable. I could see them selling to a foreign government entity that is willing to take the financial losses, in order to develop their industrial base- maybe Korea or Taiwan, or India?, or ??? Hopefully, not, and it will remain domestic. But will it ever make a profit? And if not, how long will the deep pocket guys want to stay involved? And who else would want to buy it? Maybe, Gulfstream or Bombardier, or Raytheon? Next few years should be interesting. Maybe, depends on depreciation schedule for infrastructure investments? Hmmmm.). I think the business model that predicated this company, high volume production to support the air taxi business, is a “sporty” position. Perhaps, corporate aviation departments, fractional ownership, and overseas sales will balance things out. What Eclipse is selling looks like a product, like a cellular phone, but in reality, they are selling the whole network- enough of a volume to create a network- analogous to not only selling cell phones, but also cell towers (I suppose the FAA could be viewed as a sub-contractor, in these terms). If the volume sales don't pan out, the company will still stay in business, but for all practical purposes could become “the company formerly known as Eclipse”.

(**NASA rant: Going to Mars and colonizing the moon? Yeah, sure. After all, if a brick can fly with enough money... Maybe the tax payers can just stack dollar bills under the brick until it reaches the Moon. Then NASA can declare they've made a major breakthrough with brick aerodynamics- the flying brick! Just like they declared the GAPS program with Williams a success. Well, the engine did start. On a test bench. Flying? Oh come now. Let's not set unreasonable objectives. (Let's not forget, GAPS also funded a piston engine with electronic controls. Gee, what a breakthrough. Guess I shouldn't hammer NASA for funding something practical though. But, like the Pratt engine, I'm not really sure how much NASA's involvement had to do with it, versus market forces. Lots of good NASA engineers, and managers for that matter. I'm not anti-government, I just can't help but think that DARPA runs- STREAKS- rings around NASA though).

Jake Pliskin said...

bill e goat: my word man, take a breath! in no particular order:

Air & Space had a decent artical on the willams FJ22 engine several months ago. from what i gleaned it was a very immature design when it flew with eclipse and likely it wasn't saveable especially in the timeframe during which pratt developed a workable engine.

Where are you not seeing any other turbofans in the 1000-1500lbs thrust range? Williams makes the FJ33 (Diamond D-Jet)which starts at 1000lb and goes up to 1500 and the FJ44 (CJ1 & CJ1+) which starts at 1500lbs.

BTW someone else up there stated Diamond uses a parachute. Cirrus is alone in using a parachute and i find it difficult to believe they can pull it off.

airtaximan said...

bill.e =
that pretty much says it all!
Your POV meshes nicely with mine.

FYI:
I can't help but wonder, could Williams have gotten the engine right, in the time it took Pratt to deliver?- anyone know some details here?

Vern knew the engine was never going to work way before "first flight". First flight was a stunt -deposits are now HARD!

Pratt had the PW600 program in development since the early to mid 1990's. They never wanted to start that small (no real market), but Eclipse, at 2-3x the price was an OK bet. With a few hundred contracts signed (you can forget the air taxi customers, PW did) the PW610 was the logical choice.

BTW, want to know how Vern ended up with the V-jet-engine? NASA. Period.

In order for NASA to obtain your tax dollars, they must make a case for development which CANNOT be funded by INDUSTRY. Someone made a bunch of long-winded speeched how the air taxi plane was disruptive technology. Not able to attract $ from industry, and therefore needed tax money.

So, ask the simple question: how come no self-respecting engine company would spend their own money developing a revolutionary engine with tremendous potential,and the government had to cover the bill? Answer - it was the wrong engine.

The worng engine led to the wrong airplane...the e-clips - perfect mismatch for low cost high volume air taxi, and too big to be the most affordable jet for the family market. THANKS, NASA.

That's the whole story. The conclusion, of course is MY opinion, but time will tell.

The commercial engine, developed without US tax dollars, belongs to PW-CANADA. They dictated the size and risk associated with the engine program. NASA just bought some fancy bureaucrats more time on the clock, with a few "disruptive" speeches.

Regarding the avionics, I agree with you regarding how the system is pretty much state of the art, and nothing new. I am sure some computer guys and die-hard e-clipsees will disagree. The architecture seems to be novel - but who care?

Only a computer guy really wants to make a pont to another industy that HIS computer is better than theirs. Sad, but I think this is what has happend here. For some history on how a certain comuter-geek can blow a ton of cash on something no one wants, just for bragging rights..see SLATE.

I hope your post raises some eyebrows. a lot of good points. Someone tried to bash you for the length of your post, but hey, it was well worded, well meaning and well worth the read.

Thanks.

bill e. goat said...

Jake- thanks for correcting my statement about engine availability in 1K-1.5K range. (I had heard the FJ-33 was a "scaled down FJ-44; didn't realize it would scale down that far).

ATM- Thanks for a concurring opinion. I hope I didn't come across as too negative. I confess to being too wordy!

I read some weasle words about the Cirrus chute system, something to the effect that plane has not been spin tested. Maybe it was tested in house, and didn't have such good characteristics- and the chute is just a work-around? Anyone know the scoop?

Gunner said...

Wrapping Up-
TwinPilot:
I didn't mean to insinuate that a SE Jet is as safe as a Twin. Of course it's not; and, of course, it's less complicated when an emergency does occur. (If that emergency is in the form of mechanical engine failure, the decision is REAL simple: look for a bald spot on the ground.) :-(

But, as accident stats prove, the vast majority of accidents are pilot error...which, by definition, means getting yourself so far behind your systems curve that the outcome is inevitable.

Complacency is what kills good pilots; not engine out emergencies.

Ken-
I never said that Eclipse owners are not suited to flying at 41K feet. Not once. I said that the little jet is hobbled by its speed up there, though.

I did say that owner operators who are trading up to an SP Jet for the first time, need to look very hard at their use profile. If they're only gonna be flying, say, 50,000 miles per year, there is no way they will have the facility that a commercial crew will when things start going Tango Uniform.

EO387 evidently agrees, as he intends to have a Personal Captain fly him until such time as he's truly comfortable. I think he's a wise man; hardly a coward.


Jake-
It was me who spoke of the parachute option on the D-Jet. I agree, it'll be a tech feat. But that's what they're saying at present and they don't have a rep for unsubstantiated hype.

Parachutes, like redundant engines are a blessing or a curse, depending on how they change the pilot's mindset. I know of at least two perfectly good Cirrus Jets that are now scrap because the pilot got himself into conditions that caused him to wet his pants and pulled the handle.

Likewise, I read monthly about pilots of all manner of plane who auger in because they thought their plane could handle a bit more ice, a bit more crosswind or a bit more turbulence.

Gunner

EclipseBlogger said...

Since we're talking about pilot safety and qualifications to fly in the upper flight levels, I have to wonder why pilots that want to be owner/pilot jet-jocks don't pursue further advanced pilot rating certifications. I'm a believer that the rating doesn't necessarily mean you don't have experience. But I question why someone that has experience doesn't go through the steps to receive a Commercial or ATP rating, whether they intend to fly for hire or not. If you are going to be flying any of the new hardware, you will be required to get type training, recurrent training, and maintain currency.

I have to ask Gunner why he hasn't taken a certificate rating flight check ride in the last 15 years?

Here is Gunner's pilot certificate information...

Medical Class: Third Medical Date: 3/2006
Must wear corrective lenses

Certificates
DOI: 4/5/1992
Certificate: PRIVATE PILOT
Ratings:
PRIVATE PILOT
AIRPLANE SINGLE ENGINE LAND
AIRPLANE MULTIENGINE LAND
INSTRUMENT AIRPLANE

EclipseBlogger said...

Gunner said... I said that the little jet is hobbled by its speed up there, though.

No more hobbled than a Citation. Do you have a problem with a Citation flying at FL410?

Gunner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stan Blankenship said...

eb,

You could have checked my ratings and found them to be nearly identical to gunner's and asked, why didn't you get typed in the LJ?

My answer would be that flying was not my primary job. I flew because it was expedient to my work. I always felt that flying a complex airplane, at jet speeds, at jet altitudes and into high density airports was a full time job, not a sideline.

Gunner said...

Cool-
EB published my ratings. Thanks much. I guess we've settled EO387's question as to whether I'm a pilot or not.

So, tell me, EO:
Think most of the Eclipse depositors are Commercial or ATP rated? That would be real encouraging to hear. Especially if their analytic skills rival yours. :-D
Gunner

EclipseBlogger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EclipseBlogger said...

Gunner said... Think most of the Eclipse depositors are Commercial or ATP rated?

I know a great many are Comm or ATP rated, but I also know many that are private SEL as well.

Gunner said...

Make that last question for EB, not EO.
Gunner

Gunner said...

EB said:
I know a great many are Comm or ATP rated, but I also know many that are private SEL as well.

Cool. How come all those SEL types aren't Comm or ATP? I mean, you've already intimated that all "serious" pilots are.

Don't answer, that EB. It's rhetorical. You're dismissed now.
Gunner

EclipseBlogger said...

Gunner said... Cool. How come all those SEL types aren't Comm or ATP? I mean, you've already intimated that all "serious" pilots are.

Don't answer, that EB. It's rhetorical. You're dismissed now.


Sorry, I just have to... I wasn't trying to imply that you need advanced ratings to be a serious pilot. In fact, I went out of my way to say that the rating does not necessarily make the pilot. But, I do question why pilots flying advanced high performance aircraft do not seek more advanced ratings. The Bonanza was labeled the doctor killer because it had higher capabilities compared to other aircraft at the time, and became available to individuals that had more "dollars than sense". The price point of the Eclipse makes the aircraft available to a larger segment of the aviation population that might never have been flying above 18,000 feet in the NAS. Frank Borman once said that "A superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skill." Let's hope that these new pilots have both.