First a question, where in hell is the Eclipse simulator?
This is 2005! Simulators are de rigueur for any self respecting business jet training.
Are we going to hear they haven't had time to build a simulator?
They've had 6 or 7 years to get one built!
Are we going to hear they don't have the money for one?
Eclipse is knocking on the billion dollar development door with what they have burnt plus what the suppliers (like Pratt and Avidyne) have spent. What are we talking about, a half-percent of the development budget?
But they've got mentoring, a new idea, well sort of.
Forty years ago at Learjet, after delivery and completion of ground and flight training, we would send an instructor pilot along for a couple of weeks to allow the new crew in a new airplane to get comfortable in their own surroundings.
The Eclipse program works a little differently:
Training was included in the Type Certificate however, it did not give Eclipse the exclusive position that they wanted, so they placed the mentoring requirement in the AFM, which is an FAA approved document.
It is beyond the scope of this post to try and encapsulate the complexity of what the Eclipse idea of mentoring entails. I suspect only a small percentage of pilots designated to fly the Eclipse will be exempt from the mentoring requirement. And while intended to promote safety, it is going to be difficult to administer even more difficult to support, difficult to imagine the program as structured today holding up over the long term.
The goal is safety of course, and to prevent individuals with more money than piloting skills to go out and kill themselves (and others). Eclipse has taken on that responsibility and taken on the liability as well.
But back on the subject of mentoring, Eclipse details the program in their website:
A "fair use" quote establishes the basis:
The Eclipse 500 Pilot Mentoring Program is a critical element of the Eclipse 500 Training Program. It is intended to raise Eclipse 500 pilots to a level of proficiency such that they are competent to operate safely as a solo pilot in any environment they might fly.
Eclipse has screened, selected, and trained highly experienced jet pilots to accompany new Eclipse 500 pilots during their initial operating experience. Mentors do not function as flight instructors; instead they lend their extensive experience in aviation decision-making to the new jet pilot.
Want an exemption from the mentoring requirement, it's possible if you have:
5,000 hrs TT
1,000 hrs turbojet time
500 hrs turbojet PIC
100 hrs in past year
25 hrs in past 90 days operating a turbine powered A/C as single pilot operating flight management system or moving map navigator
Minimum two turbojet type ratings.
Otherwise, take delivery of your airplane, complete your training and welcome to the mentoring program. You will be evaluated, proficiency goals set and you will be introduced to your new $600/day (plus expenses), mentor and no, you can't bring your next door neighbor, who happens to be a retired United Captain, Eclipse will assign you that guy over there in the corner, asleep in the chair. He has been waiting a long time for an assignment.
It all sounds good on paper.
There is no doubt the company plans to implement the most stringent training requirements in the industry. But in spite of their best intentions, there will be accidents and there will be lawsuits and the company has once again set themselves up as a big target, this time in the courtroom.
Eclipse's inscessant claims for safety are going to be repeated over and over and over, not by the defense but by a sharp tongued plaintiff's lawyer. I can almost hear him now:
"Your assured my client's husband the airplane was safe. You said if he passed all your training requirements, he would be safe. Now look at the first row in this courtroom, the pretty widow, and the three darling girls all in their matching pinafores, all destined to go through life without their beloved whom you said would be safe in your hands!"
Vern, your words will come back to haunt you!