Two Mid-April Messages from Vern
March was a very busy month at Eclipse. I want to wrap up the month with a quick update on our recent progress, and the work that lies ahead over the coming weeks.
The quarter ended with delivery of three aircraft to DayJet at our headquarters in Albuquerque on March 31st. It was a great day for the Eclipse and DayJet teams, and DayJet is excited to begin using these aircraft to kick off their pilot training program. There has been some media confusion about the Certificate of Airworthiness status of the delivered aircraft. I want to clear up any lingering questions and let you know that as is consistent with FAA regulations, all three aircraft had been granted a Certificate of Airworthiness prior to delivery. No aircraft can be delivered to a customer without first achieving this milestone.
We made one other delivery to a private owner in the first quarter, bringing our number of aircraft delivered in the first quarter to four and the total Eclipse 500's delivered to five. While this is shy of our goal, manufacturing and inspection momentum is growing and we are confident that it will continue to accelerate in Q2.
There are now seven additional aircraft in the pre-delivery phase that are either in the FAA inspection process or will soon be presented to the FAA for inspection. We are also making great progress toward our Production Certificate. We completed the FAA District Office audit in February and submitted our formal response plan. I expect to have good news in this area shortly.
We also recently released a draft version of Section 5 of the AFM. Many Eclipse 500 customers had asked for some preliminary data so that you could familiarize yourselves with the latest performance data. The numbers were derived from actual flight testing in a final configuration aircraft with the correct Avio NG weight. Although the numbers are still subject to change, they demonstrate that we are meeting, or exceeding, the guaranteed performance of the Eclipse 500.
We continue to work towards improving this data through further testing of the aircraft with the complete performance improvement package. We expect to have more updates for you in May. Working closely with our new partners, we continue to make great progress with Avio NG, and remain on schedule for completion this summer. The Avio NG test bed has begun utilizing both production configuration hardware and software to validate functionality and systems integration. The system is performing well.
At the beginning of March, we announced that Eclipse and United Airlines have mutually agreed to terminate our pilot training program partnership. We believe we will have major news announcing a new training partner very shortly. In the meantime, we can train all of our early delivery customers in their aircraft and in Albuquerque before receiving the first of six simulators later this year. Our training organization began training the first customer for his type rating this week and we already have type rated 10 Eclipse company pilots.
Lastly, I hope that you are seeing and feeling our strong commitment to provide more frequent and transparent communications on all aspects of our progress. I have to admit that the recent revelations from Cessna about only delivering one of their new Mustangs since its FAA TC has provided me with some perspective, and, if just for a brief moment, some solace. It reinforces to me that even experienced companies like Cessna are not immune to problems when bringing a new product to market. Here is an 80-year-old airplane company with arguably well-established production processes encountering issues with suppliers and they went five months without saying a word about any problems. At least with Eclipse you know what is going on in the production and development process, both good and bad. With this in mind, your feedback is always welcome and appreciated. I look forward to continuing to update you regularly on the successes and challenges we encounter along the way to bringing you an exceptional product.
President and CEO
As I promised last November, Eclipse is committed to proactively providing you with detailed information about technical issues that affect the Eclipse 500 fleet. The documents we are using to keep you informed about this type of development are called Customer Technical Communications (CTCs). A CTC is not a Service Bulletin or a document that a mechanic or technician can use for servicing your aircraft. It is an Eclipse form of customer communication that our engineering team initially writes to explain a technical issue found either in flight test, production or operations.
So far, we have emailed you four of these documents to inform you about technical issues we have discovered, and planned program changes that will have an effect on Eclipse 500 maintenance or operations.
Our best case scenario is that at the time we communicate any Eclipse 500 issue, we are also in a position to include specific recovery plans. However, you have told us that your preference is that we get you in the loop as quickly as possible, even if our resolution path is not immediately clear. So our initial communication, in the form of a CTC, may not always outline an immediate solution to the issue.
The CTC found at http://customers.eclipseaviation.com/CTC_Pitot-AOAProbe_040907.pdf announces an issue with the pitot and angle of attack probe system on the Eclipse 500. This issue is temporarily limiting flight operations to Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) without an Eclipse company pilot or Eclipse trained mentor pilot on board. The Eclipse 500 can still file an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flight plan, but cannot fly in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC).
While we are not able to outline our resolution at this time, I promise to update you on the progress of our fix within the next two weeks. Thank you for your continued support.
President and CEO