News Update from ABQ – Part 2
The Upgraded VLJ
By Jim McKlain Journal Staff Writer
ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Eclipse Aviation president and CEO Vern Raburn announced this past Tuesday a major effort to improve various aspects of the Eclipse 500, the company’s flagship Very Light Jet (VLJ).
In a press conference, held at Double Eagle Airport, dozens of Eclipse employees gathered around a sandy vacant lot, scheduled to become the first facility establishing a permanent presence at the blossoming air facility.
“We are pleased to announce a complete and comprehensive upgrade program to our already overwhelmingly popular Eclipse 500 VLJ”, boasted a gleaming Raburn. “We have listened to feedback from our customers and are determined to make our loyal customer base a satisfied bunch indeed.”
The improvements are significant and wide ranging, and include such highlights as additional paint trim colors, an increased selection of interior color options, a dual-redundant computerized auto-deploy air freshener canister (free with the sixth seat toilet conversion kit), interior “mood” lighting, spinner hubcaps, and the ever popular “Under Aircraft LED Light Kit” (available in “Razor Red”, “NG Prism Blue” and “Glam Green”).
“We feel that our customers have clearly spoken and demand such improvements - we are confident that on close inspection, all of the Nay-Sayers of the industry will realize that we are making significant upgrades on these significant upgrades. We are working diligently to have all of these available by mid summer, with the exception of the Next Generation “Prism Blue” kit, which seems to be somewhat more challenging. We are working with our key vendors on targeting that specific upgrade for early next year, but are sure the pilot community will understand and find it well worth the wait. In the mean time, we will be supplying “Razor Red” kits in lieu of “NG Prism Blue”, but will update all affected aircraft at no cost to the consumer.” Raburn followed up energetically with “This is an excellent deal for everyone and represents significant progress on our side!”
When asked about recent developments, such as major vendors, once again, backing out of key supplier positions, Raburn quoted “It’s a hard fact - the MTBF of the LED option alone increases from the HVGH from under 50 to well over 200. This is a substantial improvement we feel is key – there is no way the prehistoric dinosaurs of our industry would dare push the edge this far. This is clearly why we will succeed where so many others have failed.”
As the presentation went on, several employees seemed to wander off, apparently in search of old bottle caps littering the adjacent field. “They make good wind chimes, and Ned is trying to collect them for his cub-scout pack”, stated one, somewhat weary Eclipse employee.
Appearing irritated by his own employee’s irrational lack of interest, Raburn, with folded arms and making subtle clicking noises into microphone, patiently waited while Andrew Broom, Eclipse spokesman, dashed from the podium and attempted to round up the straying employees. In confronting one intently focused group apparently attempting to teach each other to “snap” bottle caps to make them fly like little Frisbees, Broom was unsuccessful in getting their attention, even while flailing his arms frantically and hissing something about “The boss man”. However, he had better luck with several stray loners that were eventually herded back to the podium.
Resuming, apparently un-phased, Raburn continued with his speech for another two and a half hours, going into detail as to the importance of each upgrade. At one point, he extensively detailed one of their concerns about a major decision they were currently negotiating with the FAA involving which side of the cockpit they should install the independent third cup-holder. “It’s surprising the amount of analysis required of the regulatory basis for seemingly simple decisions like this. It’s not just a quick “right or left” call. Important factors such as open platform compatibility and expandability need to be addressed. It’s actually a lot harder than anyone could have possibly foreseen.”
As the day wore on and on, the small group of employees, standing in the hot Albuquerque sun, got more and more agitated. At one point, one frail female employee, later identified as 87 year old “Ruby”, muttered “bite me Raburn” and walked over to an adjacent hanger and sat down in the shade, clearly unimpressed.
From that point on, the tension seemed to rise, reaching a crescendo when Raburn was hit forcefully on his left temple with a high speed bottle cap. Quickly limping to his vehicle he was heard muttering “But I just give and give, no one appreciates me.”. As he sped off, the sound of hundreds of whizzing bottle caps could be heard ricocheting off the back of his car.
Mr. Broom was found several hours later wrapped in duct-tape and hung out on the water tower just outside the main hanger facilities
Thanks again to metal guy for sharing this very important report.