Thursday, March 15, 2007

Did Vern Provoke the General Aviation User Fee Discussion?

Many in aviation believe he did. Today's release of the FAA Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2007-2020 provides some support for that belief. Here are some excerpts from that report;

"At the October 2006 TRB/FAA workshop, industry experts suggested the market for the new microjets could add 500 aircraft a year to the active fleet by 2010. The relative inexpensive twin-engine microjets (priced between $1.5 and $2 million) are believed by many to have the potential to redefine the business jet segment by expanding business jet flying and offering performance that could support a true on-demand air-taxi business service. This year's forecast assumes that microjets will begin to enter the active fleet in 2007 (350 aircraft) and grow by 400 to 500 aircraft a year after that, reaching 6,300 aircraft by 2020.

Utilization rates for VLJ's will vary by mission. VLJ air-taxis are expected to average approximately 1,500 hours per year, fractionals 1,200 and private use 350. This results in an expected utilization rate for all VLJs in 2020 of 1,067 hours per year. Traditional (non-VLJ's) turbojets are expected to average approximately 407 hours per year by 2020, since VLJ's are expected to have a greater share of their use in on-demand air-taxi than the traditional turbojets."

So now the FAA has been drinking the Kool-Aid. Not only are we going to have swarms of these critters darkening our skies, but they are going to have a utilization rate three times that of our conventional dinosaur fleet, plus they are going to be a Major League pain-in-the-ass for ATC since they fly so slow. But as Vern once testified to a congressional sub-committee, the Eclipse is more than capable of getting out of the way of faster airplanes.

Little wonder the FAA is wondering how they are going to handle the increase in General Aviation traffic that Vern assures them is coming because he has the orders and he is going to deliver!

26 comments:

Gunner said...

Interesting how the FAA hedges its bets. They've regurgitated only as much VernSpeak as necessary to their goals...400-500 jets per year for ALL manufacturers. But, even with incentive, they're not buying his ramp-up to 1500 A/C per year for Eclipse alone.

Wonder what Ken has to say about that order book now? Looks like the FAA either doesn't believe it exists or, having reviewed the Eclipse Program carefully, thinks it'll take him 'till about 2015 to deliver already existing orders.

Either way, the FAA is supporting the view that his business plan ROI does not compute. Course, then we do have "factual" statements from "NBAA" to the contrary.
Gunner

Black Tulip said...

The dialogue here is very qualitative and lacks a numerical measure of prospects for the aircraft's success. Like the financial markets, this is difficult to ascertain by any one variable so may I suggest a composite leading indicator, a complex calculation whose daily result is... THE ECLIPSIDEX. This index is computed by multiplying:

Estimated Time Between Overhaul for the engines in hours.

Mean Time Between Failure of the avionics suite in hours.

Average windshield life in hours.

Demonstrated NBAA range in nautical miles.

Number of domestic service centers.

Number of Level-A simulators and Flight Training Devices.

Projected Initial Public Offering price in dollars.

Demonstrated service ceiling on standard day after max gross departure.

Vern's Time of Useful Consciousness, in seconds, assuming the plant suffers rapid decompression.

Divided by:

Vee Ref, in knots, on standard day, sea level, maximum landing weight.

Estimated days to full aircraft certification.

Estimated days to production certificate.

Mean Time To Repair the avionics suite in hours.

Average systolic blood pressure, in mm, of all depositors.

Average length of a board meeting in hours.

Any thoughts on today's value of THE ECLIPSIDEX? Could this bring a sense of stability and calm?

Black Tulip

airtaximan said...

I can't believe how pessimistic this blog has become. Grow up.

1- VLJs WILL blacken the skies
2- This DOES mean the FAA needs billion to revamp the system
3- GA should pay

See how great everything is now that you are optimistic?

gadfly said...

Message board:

“Luft Maus”, hang in there, little rodent. Continue to squeak . . . your droppings are informative.

“Bullet Man”, the rodent may be “disgruntled”, but he’s not constipated. And the product is not on the “endangered feces list”.

“Dark Flower”, the answer to your formula is “zero”, because at least one or more factors is always “zero”.

“Air Shuttle”, if the VLJ’s blacken the skies, global warming is proved a hoax . . . the dinosaurs will return, and you are correct . . . everything is bright and beautiful.

gadfly

(Ah, to be young again!)

airtaximan said...

HHHHhhheeeeeerrrreeees JOhhnny!

Mike Press, Back in action:
Paints a rosey picture (as rosey as possible)...basically drinking cool-aid and parroting Vern...then the market analysis - -I love the "bottomed out" conclusion...I guess we'll see where the bottom really is, a la DOT-BOMB... someone I know has a lot of that kind of experience.

Here's a link:

http://www.spjets.com/news.htm

Quoted -

"Market Prices

Last month I said that “prices on the secondary market continued to weaken through December and January”. In February they actually hit an all time low during the news “blackout” and worries about Eclipse financial condition. By the end of February, the prices of positions on the secondary market sold for around $1.4M (list price plus CPI plus equity but before options). Some mid-2008 positions sold for less than $1.4M as speculators again started entering the market. Most of the sellers were owners just fed up with waiting and wanting out. What most people don’t realize is that most of the owners who purchased these position years ago are very wealthy individuals who believed in the Eclipse dream. Most of them still do believe in the dream but have become tired of waiting and just want to move on or their life circumstances have changed. When they decide to sell, they of course want the best price for their investment, but most often that is not the primary reason they are selling.

There is still a large supply of positions for sale on the secondary market and it continues to be a buyers’ market. The prices seem to have stabilized and bottomed out since the announcements, but they probably will not start back up again until Eclipse starts delivering airplanes and meeting revised schedules. The demand for Eclipse has not dwindled, and the interest in the secondary market is just as high or higher than it has ever been.

Conclusions and Forecast

The secondary market prices for Eclipse reached an all time low in February and early March due to continued delays in production and lack of news from Eclipse. In the last two weeks, Eclipse has been forthcoming with the status of the program and their solutions for various issues to include a redesign of the Avio system. Prices for late 2007 and 2008 dipped to $1.4 million, which is over $150,000 BELOW factory price. In early March, after Eclipse announced their plans on production, delivery, and Avio upgrades, speculators and buyers started to come back into the market and it appears prices have now bottomed out."

Sounds like a stock report. Penny stocks, I fear.

Someone needs to tell Vern: "market speculatin does not equal orderbook, sorry"

You need real buyers, buddy. Long term real buyers, not speculators.

Frank Castle said...

"When they decide to sell, they of course want the best price for their investment, but most often that is not the primary reason they are selling."

the reason is, they realize this little wanna-be plane is a royal piece of S**T, that cannot, and will not perform to original specifications. Not a very good investment, having a plane that wouldn't sell well at a Wichita garage sale.

Not a very good investment to have people laughing when you say, "I bought an Eclipse."

If it did perform as advertised, it was probably retrofitted by US. Ha Ha.

This guy's working hard to keep his hedge up.

gadfly said...

Who in their right mind could predict this crowd! . . . this “event”.

Grown men actually believing the emperor has “clothes”!

Amazing!

When you folks get done playing, get washed and come in to supper . . . and try not to get hurt.

gadfly

(Oh yeh, even “Forbes” carries an “ad”. . . somewhere around page 119, give or take . . . read it carefully, and you thought that “Hans Christian Anderson” had a monopoly on fairy tales! Excuse me, my stomach hurts!)

airtaximan said...

REMINDERS:

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it”


Direct from Vern:
“First and foremost, Vern is very optimistic that the delivery schedule published last week will be met. The FAA is on premise and well into the inspection process for COA on three to five aircraft in the next few days, and on schedule for 10 in March and then about 1 every two days in April.”

WHERE ARE THE 3-5 CERTIFED PLANES?


“Vern candidly admits that going for PC right from the first airplane was not wise, and now has split the effort.”

SPLIT THE EFFORT, hmmm… sounds like the CofA’s which he admits helps in obtaining the production certificate requires a separate effort now – CROCK, or the galactically stupid

“the AVIO NG mod available in the low to mid 100's, but this is certainly subject to change given unforeseen challenges.”

WHAT IS UNFORESEEN CHALLENGES? SO FAR THE WHOLE THING CAN BE DESCRIBED AS “UNFORSEEN CHALLENGES – sad, the CEO cannot even tell you when you will be getting functional avionics in your plane, as some unforeseen events may crop up. This is not-aviation-like. You are supposed to assess risks up front.

“They have done it for many other commercial aircraft manufacturers, and have a great deal of experience writing the "bullet-proof" software interfaces that are required on a platform like Eclipse.”

VERN: PLEASE TELL US WHICH AIRCRAFT DO NOT REQUIRE BULLET-PROOF SOFWARE INTERFACES, AND WHY ECLIPSE IS SO SPECIAL IN THIS REGARD – why resort to this kind of ridiculous puffery? Someone tell him his customers are not stupid, and we do not need his ridiculous remarks like this. Why not just tell us the facts.

“We brought up the idea of re-looking at the LX option to cut out some weight to make a "LX light" option. And Vern said he will investigate it, but reiterated how difficult it was to change specs, even on the interior, since the interior is part of the total certification process.”

RIGHT! AND THE AVIONICS ARE LESS SIGNIFICANT THAN THE INTERIOR, SO, WHEW, WE’LL JUST BREEZE ON DOWN THE PRODUCTION ROAD ON THE AVIONICS, BUT DON’T AS US FOR A “HARD TO CERTIFY” INTERIOR CHANGE. Open mouth, insert other foot.

“Vern has begun to answer more and more issues, and has asked his staff to get information out to the customer base as quickly as possible, even when the "perfect" answer is not readily available..”

PROBABLY THE SCARIEST THING Vern has said so far… imagine all his well thought through answers have led the program to this point. COME ON! Do you really think anyone believes you have perfect answers at this point? What’s your record on that since 1998? It’s like a problem child testing the boundaries of what you will put up with. This is psycho stuff folks…

PAY ATTENTION, this is more of the same…there’s 8 years of history right here, folks.

Where are the planes?

Black Tulip said...

Ah ha Gadfly,

You dismiss the ECLIPSIDEX so easily. You suggest that some of the factors in the numerator may remain zero and postulate that the resulting index will be nil.

Gadfly, as a newcomer may I ask, what if zero is divided by an infinite number. Please re-examine the variables that could approach infinity, for instance - the number of days to achieve a fully certified aircraft. And we are talking about a real airplane here - Able to takeoff, ascend, cruise and land using RVSM plus carry a real payload fairly far away and finally - the windshield doesn't break.

ECLIPSIDEX could be indeterminate for a while. Please reserve judgement.

By the way, how's the back road up to Cerrillos and Madrid. Is the Mine Shaft Saloon still there with the melodramas?

Black Tulip

gadfly said...

Dark Blossom

When we go north, we turn east before Golden, on 344, to see three of our four kids, and their families. When I go through Madrid and Cerrillos, I make a point of not stopping for any reason among the “crystal gazers” and the left-over-gone-to-seed “flower children” of a by-gone day. Who knows what new method of flying might be in the “design stage” in one of those abandoned coal-mine shafts, or in the many “cabins” along the way! ‘Maybe that’s where the Eclipse was conceived! Folks up there do a lot of flying . . . but never leave the ground.

About thirty years ago, a movie was filmed up that way . . . a car was driven off a curve at high speed, went into, and “through”, a two-story house near an arroyo . . . evidently, they got it the first time. The house, etc., is “long gone”, and the curve bears no resemblance to the old two-lane road (North 14).

Concerning your “higher math”, I go bare-foot much of the time, so I can count to twenty . . . beyond that, my mind goes blank.

gadfly

Black Tulip said...

Gadfly,

Many thanks for your review of the high desert terrain and its inhabitants. Little has changed since I lived nearby.

Black Tulip

paul said...

Another "hit and run".

From a friend that is still employed at SP11:

No more free soda,
Color copiers were removed from the floor (all prints are pulled from the computer),
Prints are to be kept to a minimum.
A hiring freeze is on.
Also some disgruntled person cut a wiring harness just foward of the aft pressure bulkhead on one of the aircraft. FAA and FBI are involved.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

While I believe Vern to be a cad of the highest order, at best he 'contributed' to the user fee discussion with his bragadocious phantom order - he has proven to be a useful idiot for other powers.

I have worked with the FAA, and the ATA, among other organizations, and can say clearly that the user fee discussion is the result of a long campaign of incrementalism from the airline guys. Throw in a little opportunism from the government who is always looking for ways to separate money from the 'rich white guy playboy pilots', and the napoleonic complex of our favorite nekkid emperor at KABQ and you have a perfect storm of sorts.

Now is the time for the alphabet soup groups (AOPA, EAA, GAMA, LAMA) to really step up and that will take OUR money and OUR support to help them. Call your Senators and Reps and beat them up on this.

I too had heard hiring freeze and still believe that a refusal by Eclipse to layoff a good portion of Manufacturing until the New New New design is completed AND approved will result in an $800M smoking crater.

The wiring harness report is troublesome on a number of levels. I would not trust Vern any further than I can throw him but I have always had the utmost respect for the majority of the team at Eclipse. Whether out of frustration or some other concern, I would never suggest or support acts of vandalism or sabotage.

Hopefully they will get to the bottom of this and find it was a mistake.

Gunner said...

I've said it in December and I'll say it again:

Avidyne will be the next casualty in Eclipse's path to glory. That will be accompanied by the sound of the wheels coming off this project.

The first part is now true. I stick by the second prediction.

Promises are cheap. Future deadlines pulled out of thin air are cheaper. But nobody here, except Ken, can avoid seeing the enormous obstacles between Eclipse and development of a functional aircraft; or the unbelievable chaos in ABQ. I say development rather than production, because Eclipse is not on the brink of "production"; they're at the 2/3rd point of development. Still to come: avionics, windows, wheels, airframe, FIKI, new Type Cert, demonstration of speed and range guarantees and more.

This thing is goin' down...and soon. Not happy about it; but I'd prefer it this way than a fleet of David Crowe abortions taking to the air. I also feel sorry for David Crowe. He stood by them and deserves so much better than paying for a plane that cannot be flown.
Gunner

Ken Meyer said...

"This thing is goin' down...and soon. Not happy about it"

Gunner, you have a little problem with veracity. Nearly every "fact" you cited was wrong.

And everybody here knows that if Eclipse does go down, you will be dancing in the streets, waving your arms, screaming at the top of your lungs to anyone who will listen, "I made the right decision when I cancelled my order! Hallelujah!"

It's pretty hard to believe anything you write when you say stupid stuff like "Not happy about it." Truth be told, what you're not happy about is that Eclipse didn't die, the window problem was solved, the bushing issue is history, the plane performs as promised, the new avionics are on track and, just two days ago S/N 3 was delivered. Its owner was ecstatic; here's what he said:

"Took delivery of the plane today. Flew with Dan the Man for 1.9 Block 1.7 air. I did 4 landings with one of which being power off. You talk about a plane that is fun to fly Eclipse wrote the book. I will never forget today as long as I am alive."

Ken

Frank Castle said...

Oh Boy !

Let's zoom around the patch, cut a few didoes, buzz some cows, do a power off landing for spits and giggles !

In reality, probably just like Crowe. Fly it home, park it in the hanger, look at it longingly, hoping one day, it will be a real airplane.

(ahem) Made it to FL410 yet ?

(ahem) Made it to 370 ktas yet ?

Can you call anybody on the radio and szcream "B.S." ???

Gunner said...

Ken-
Wrong again, Oh Pharaoh of Fictitious FIKI.

I knew I was right to cancel my order almost a year ago. Did all my rejoicing when I got the check back. How's your money workin' for you these days? ;-)

None of my "facts" are wrong, Kenneth:
- The window problem ain't solved until the FAA says it's solved. We haven't seen anything on that front.

- Haven't seen the plane make good on its performance guarantees; unless, of course, you wish to refer to the famed ABQ-GNV flight. In which case, you're more easily parted with your money than even I believed!

- The "new avionics" is on track just like the old avionics was "on track". On track to net more progress payments. Perhaps even yours?

- SN 3 was "delivered", though it's still registered to Eclipse, has no working DME and cannot fly above FL24. The windows must be checked for cracks more often than Eclipse points fingers and the owner, like David Crowe, is not enrolled in the Famously Fictious Training Program.

- SN 2 wasn't delivered to DayJet. It was mysteriously skipped while they pawn these models off to guys of your mindset. Hmmmm, wonder why?

- The company has to re-certify the aircraft before it can talk about PC; but I've no doubt we'll STILL see 1,000, errrr 500, oops 400 delivered tis year.


Gunner

Gunner said...

I really have to wonder how many Eclipse Executive Cocktail Hours start with a toast to their staunchest supporter, Ken Myer, ending with a giggled, yet snarky, sotto voce "sucker"?

Gunner

Frank Castle said...

my buddy Sharkey confirmed most of what Paul said.

the hiring freeze is definitely on. No more trainees, they want experienced people. Sharkey asked 'em "how are you going to bring them back ?" hehe. If you can't keep 'em, they will NOT come.

They'll be lucky to get the Mickie D's rejects from Bangor, Maine.

They are switching out with some used Kyocera POS's they figured was a good deal. Gonna lease more in the future, instead of purchase. Black & white's all they need anyhow.

Their HR dept. (taking orders from Vern, no doubt) hasn't learned anything about REAL treatment of "human resources".

mouse said...

Ken,

Name one airplane that was not fun to fly? Of course the owner had a blast.. He probably flew all he will get to for some too.

When an owner gets to take their plane home, in their hangar, and experience the joy of ownership like maintenance, SB's, AD's, fuel bills, downtime, Etc. is when the real story unfolds..

By the way, have you found your deeds to the Brooklyn Bridge and the Everglades yet? I think they are just under your EA-500 AFM...

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