Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Two Mid-April Messages from Vern

Dear Customers:


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.

Sincerely,

Vern Raburn
President and CEO



Dear Customers,

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.

Sincerely,

Vern Raburn
President and CEO

80 comments:

Gunner said...

Dear Ken-
Assuming this issue is as straightforward as indicated in the Eclipse communications, let me be the first to say that THIS is an item I would call "simple teething pains" for a new aircraft. Acceptable teething pains, I might add. (Still not letting up on Wing Spar and Window problems, though.)

It does raise a question for me however: what is the "third, independent airspeed source" to which this CTC refers? If the Pitot System is blocked, I doubt there's a third tube hidden somewhere...are they referring to the handheld Garmin 496? Best guess appreciated in the absence of personal knowledge.
Gunner

JetProp Jockey said...

Gunner, if you look at the schematics provided, there seems to be a third unit mounted on the pilot side of the aircraft labeled standby pitot static port. I cannot tell from the schematic how the information from this port is displayed, but it seems to be entering the system at a different location.

FlightCenter said...

Can someone list the subject of all four CTCs?

Ken Meyer said...

Pitot probes #1 and #2 are combination pitot/AOA probes (generating angle of attack information from the differential pressure sensors in the base). Probe 3 is a standard pitot probe (no AOA data) and serves as a "voting probe" when the two main probes disagree.

In the episodes described, the system correctly identified the disagreement between the main probes and put up a CAS message. That's the one good thing to come out of it--the crew alerting system worked as designed.

Pitot probe 3 is displayed continuously on the backup ADI; the report says it continued to work.

The four CTCs:

1. Wing attach bushing
2. Windshield mounting
3. Customer confusion about W&B
4. Pitot probe icing

Ken

Metal Guy said...

Um, yeah, we’re gonna fix that too.

Hey Ken, if this happened to you with your family on board, is it a “Ho Hum” too?

At what point do you get concerned that the airplane is simply not safe?

Cheers.

Ken Meyer said...

metal guy wrote,
"At what point do you get concerned that the airplane is simply not safe?"


You know, that's the most moronic statement I've seen on the blog for a long time.

Eclipse is buying pitot probes from a well-known manufacturer (Harco) who has been making them for 50 years. After 4400 hours of test flights, they discover the pitot heaters don't work quite right in all circumstances.

And from that, you conclude that the Eclipse is unsafe.

That's moronic. I wondered how long it would take for the blog to move from discussion to ax-grinding again. What, 5 minutes? :)

The company found a problem, announced it, and is working on fixing it. In the meantime, training continues, and the program moves forward awaiting the fix. Ho hum.

Ken

Metal Guy said...

Why is it moronic? It’s a simple question. How many design issues like this does it take to make you feel that the design is unsafe? 5? 10? 50?.

I never stated that the Eclipse was unsafe – I just asked a question.

Throughout history, there are many aircraft designs that have ended up being unsafe and everyone acknowledges that. They typically don’t show up this early in the aircrafts life-cycle either. Rushed design? Too much re-design? Too new of technology?

Lots of reasons why, but I hardly think it’s moronic to ask the question. More importantly, given the number of design issues found after TC, I think it’s perfectly fair to challenge Eclipse with this.

FlightCenter said...

How many aircraft in this class have 3 pitot probes?

How many aircraft in this class have 2 AOA sensors?

Seems like there is a fair amount of air data sensor redundancy on the aircraft.


Can the historians among us comment on how many civil aircraft they know of that calculate AOA based on differential pressure (as opposed to measuring it with a vane or other mechanical device)?

Ken Meyer said...

metal guy wrote,
"More importantly, given the number of design issues found after TC, I think it’s perfectly fair to challenge Eclipse with this."


What makes you so sure this is a design issue? My guess is that the pitot probes were designed by Harco not to freeze, don't you think?

I think the Eclipse is getting a lot more air time than other new jets historically have by the times they were in customers' hands in substantial numbers. Eclipse says their fleet has over 4400 hours; that's a lot.

I read somewhere that the CJ had over 200 service bulletins during the initial timeframe after introduction. So, this idea that problems cease upon certification is just flatout wrong. Personally, I'd rather they find the problems and correct them before it is time for delivery of my plane, so I like the fact that they're flying the hell out of these planes and finding out what's wrong with them now.

Ken

airtaximan said...

Ken:

I think you are right about the many issues occuring after certification in GA. Two little points:

1- the other GA manufacturers do not refer to the competition's problems in their communication, nor take solice in them. I don't know why Vern says Cessna didn't disclose the problem for 5 months - we all knew about the Garmin issue a long time ago. Maybe he's asleep at the wheel? I know he's probably got his hands full.
;)

2- most GA planes DO NOT make the claim they were designed for airliner standards of durability. Vern does, repeatedly. So his big open mouth is fair game.

I'd ask how long before throwing the engines or the avionics in the garbage did Vern know the entire systems were scrap? I can tell you - a long time before anyone else knew - long enough to take your none refundable deposit at first flight (engines), and then again, long enough to ask for hundreds of 60% progress payments after "cetification" (avionics).

He should leave Cessna's little problem that's taken months to rectify out of it...his problems are much more fundamental and a lot bigger. His solice is ill-founded, but in fairness to him, it was just a brief moment of solice.

FlightCenter said...

According to the Garmin G1000 manual (page A-2) for the Cessna Mustang, the Cessna Mustang has only two airspeed sensors.

So if the two airspeed sensors on the Mustang disagree, the pilot is left to make up his mind which one is right.

By using three sensors on the Eclipse, the avionics can "vote" and automatically identify the bad sensor.

There is no mention of AOA in the G1000 manual for the Mustang.

lumar said...

Gents


Every new aircraft design has a LOT of fixes, then AD's and SB's. So what?

The problem with the Eclipse-Project is the $$$$$$$$$ - when do they pull the plug?

Niner Zulu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gadfly said...

Lumar and Zulu

'Seem’s the question has two possible answers: By New Year’s Day, they will have “pulled the plug” or “pulled the cork”. Either way, they’ll wake up with a hangover.

gadfly

twinpilot said...

Lumar and Niner,

If they file chapter 11 (reorganization), they can make a strong case and probably get the judge to agree that they have to raise the price to say 1.8 mil. He may order a refund event, which should be just fine with E-clips. That way the company becomes solvent; they can go public when they start making money and Vern can throw all of the speculators/position holders under the bus. Of course he can say he didn’t want to do it but it was Judge’s orders. (Remember it is never his fault) Everyone wins except the speculators/position holders.
I am sure Ken won’t like that option, but really, it is the best for the company, the employees, and the public if there is an IPO. The employees stay employed, and E-clips benefits because good employees are hard to find and train and they have a lot invested in that already.
Sounds like it is a much better way than chapter 7.
By the way, my educated guess is that the engines are under 200K each and the direct cost of manufacturing the airplane is probably going to be about 1.2 million, so Niner your estimate of profit/loss IMHO was as you said generous.

Plastic_Planes said...

9Z said...
Well, as of April 10th there are 265 days left in the year, which equates to $265 million dollars in overhead until New Years (based on the burn rate of a million dollars a day, not counting costs of building a new plant at Double Eagle).

I'm not sure the burn rate is still that high. It was when I was there, but they were pouring a lot of money into supplier contracts to set up the initial rate production. I'm hoping that has slowed down to match the actual rates, but then again...

Anyway, Eclipse will be spending little out of pocket for Double Eagle. The City of Albuquerque will be covering the costs for the buildings through IRB's as they did with SP 2 and 3 at KABQ. Eclipse does pay tenant improvements, though. In reality, that'll be a small part of the bill. The interesting thing, though, is how the city feels about this in light of the Phillips pull out a couple of years ago. When Phillips abandoned their site in Albuquerque, the City and State went after them for the full value of the money they put into it (and got it). Now, in case of bankruptcy, they probably wouldn't get a penny, but it makes for an interesting situation nonetheless.

Anyway, using a profit margin of $200,000 per jet (just guessing here, I think the figure might be closer to zero, or even negative, but I'm trying to be generous)

For the model to work, they'd need to build ~525 each year. 400 puts them under the number. The labor content is a small percentage. The true cost is almost all parts cost. Eclipse needs the volume to leverage the parts costs down. Unfortunately, they only get the breaks on the volume in the year the parts are delivered, not the year the AC is delivered (therefore a lot of the material used this year was already procured & invoiced last year). The remaining parts requirements for this year will not allow them to break the volume requirements. As their rate becomes more consistent, they'll be able to gain the leverage. If you are turning your inventory 100 times per year, a net 30 world is fine. However, if you're not...

Has anyone who has visited ABQ seen ANY evidence that Eclipse will actually be able to produce 1.5 jets a day?? I didn't...).

Yes. I believe that with a consistent parts flow and a truly "frozen" design, they have the infrastructure to support these numbers. I don't believe they'll do it this year because of the continued "noise", but should they ever get this stuff fixed down, they'll be able to do it. I've seen them move major assemblies at that rate, but then they stopped due to lack of parts at the next higher assemblies.

All in all, they have a better than even chance at 1 or more a day.

Now, in my (humble) opinion, I think they are never going to more than a 200-250 AC a year company. And, at that rate, I think this is a $2+ million plane, not a $1.5M one.

Anyway, you didn't ask my opinion on that...

/s/

FlightCenter said...

Eclipse will deliver the first production Eclipse 500 aircraft in March, 2006 followed by 260 aircraft in the first 12 months of production...

This statement comes from Eclipse's press release dated October 11, 2004. (Still on Eclipse's website at http://www.eclipseaviation.com/index.php?option=com_newsroom&task=viewpr&id=632&Itemid=52)

The entire press release makes for very interesting reading.

Almost every statement in the press release has turned out to be wildly optimistic. So my question, if building 260 aircraft was the (optimistic) 2004 plan for the first 12 months of production, what has changed to allow Eclipse to deliver 400 aircraft in the first 12 months of production today? Is there any chance that they will be able to build 260 in the first twelve months?

I'd also like to hear from the historians among us. What other civil aircraft manufacturers have produced 400 aircraft in the first twelve months of production of a newly certified aircraft? Do I hear 260 aircraft in the first twelve months of production?

Going once, ... going twice....

lumar said...

9Z,

I am not convinced that the burn-rate ist 1 M$ per day! I think its more around some 200 K$ or so...

In any case, as they are losing money if they sell aircrafts or not - there is a normaly a urgent need to act...

But some people have a big sponsor and in that case, they may sleep well and all our sophisticated calculation and virtual budgets are just not applicable!

lumar said...

Hi Gadfly,

you say: 'By New Year’s Day, they will have “pulled the plug” or “pulled the cork”. Either way, they’ll wake up with a hangover.'----

I love your irony!

But my tendency is more 'PLUG' than 'CORK'.

Cheers!

lumar said...

twinpilot says:

concerning Chapter 11: '...raise the price to say 1.8 mil...'

I just say: Time have changed since the Eclipse was a succes. With todays environment, there would be only a very few new orders, if ever...

Honestly, forget it!

gadfly said...

Our little high-tech company has been in business for thirty-one years. We compete against the “big” guys, and are heart-beats away from destruction on any given day.

An average employee (figuring each and every person on payroll) costs about $40k, plus $20k for health, FICA, benefits, and general overhead . . . that’s an extremely low estimate. Each employee must account for “three times cost”, to make it all work. Five employees will break even, or even (maybe) show a “slight” profit at $900k, per year. Ten employees translates to $1.8 million . . . 100 employees, $18 million . . . 1,000 employees, $180 million . . . just to stay in business. Nothing in these figures to pay for machinery, new equipment, electricity, material, LOC, buildings, etc., or (forbid) “profit” to the owners/investors.

No, I’m not referring to a company making “pottery”, ceramic cups, rubber tomahawks, or “Balloon Fiesta” keepsakes (they’re all Chinese, anyway) . . . but a genuine high-tech company, involved in the aero-space world.

Is there some magic formula, known only to “Eclipse”, that will make all this a happy situation? . . . boy, that formula in itself would be worth a fortune.

My numbers suggest that it costs Eclipse between $75,000 to $90,000 per HOUR (eight-hour work day, without overtime, before somebody cries “foul”) to keep the doors open. For a plane costing $1.5 million, they MUST produce one plane every 20 hours, even if all the equipment and material is free, just to make payroll.

Give it 40 hours. Give it any number you wish . . . Lumar is asking a good question. When does the bath water start to go in circles. (Have you noticed a “soap ring” around the tub? . . . maybe the stopper is already leaking! That gurgling sound does not sound like it’s coming from “Pratt & Whitney”)

gadfly

Gunner said...

I've reread Vern's missives on my way back to S. FL (except while dodging this dodgy weather). I stand by my post of this AM; this is an acceptable "teething problem".

But other issues are raised, a couple which have been touched on by others.

1) Why did Vern find it necessary to slam Cessna while reporting an Eclipse problem? And, once again, it had nothing to do with design locations or housings of the sensors....the error was clearly on the part of the vendor. (Clump, Clump go the Bus Tires.)

Is he not aware that this type of blame-game is like fingers on a chalkboard in aviation circles? I guess not.

2) The word "solace", in context of recent events at Eclipse, is EXTRAORDINARILY telling. One finds "solace" when the chips are down; one finds "solace" when the skies are dark; One requires NO "solace" when Avio NG is on track, PC is on the way, finances are healthy and ships are about to deliver. Why does Vern need "solace", if everything is on track? A couple months delay from the delivery schedule is hardly the stuff of tragedy.

One need not reach at all to recognize that Vern Raburn is feeling rather beleaguered. Why? Ken and EB assure os everything is pretty much Aces in ABQ.


3) Of concern to me is the fact that a fix is not already available for this seemingly minor pitot problem. Now, before the faithful jump on me, let's think about this. They've been aware of the problem for some little time; they know what the possible solutions are (increase the juice and/or insulate) and they've been able to replicate the problem in the air. It seems to me that the two ready solutions could have been tested almost immediately. Perhaps they were, but this issue is being given the same "shortly" time frame as Avio NextGrift.

That's pretty curious.

Meantime, forget RVSM and DME; it's now a VMC-only aircraft. For EVERYONE involved with the EA-500, I hope that changes within days, rather than months.
Gunner

AJ said...

I have a question for "plastic planes" and any other ex-eclipse employee reading the blog:

After your departure from Eclipse, did you elect to purchase any of your vested employee stock options? I'm just looking for a yes or no answer or maybe a - I purchased all of them, a lot of them, a few of them or none of them. Just curious.

gadfly said...

Once, the gadfly designed and built a double temperature probe, a unique and unproven design, complete with “pylon” and “fairing”, with electric servo-drive double doors, on each probe (like miniature horizontal “bomb bay” doors, with head-on rain-impact barriers . . . ) to open and shut at altitude, mounted under the “chin” of the C135 “Laser Lab”. I was told, much later, that they “failed” just once. Taking off in a driving rain at Kirtland AFB (ABQ), water was pouring off the fuselage like a waterfall . . . they “froze” and failed to open . . . pilot dropped a few thousand feet, they “thawed” and dried out, returned to altitude, and worked fine, and continued their “laser experiment”. Last I heard, the probes were transferred to a Gulfstream G2 . . . for a “second life”.

Even the gadfly has an ego . . . one aeronautical engineer kept saying, “It’ll never work!” . . . but it did. It’s a good feeling when things go as planned.

But the design was based on a long history of mechanisms that did work, and an understanding of aircraft design, and a deep respect for the work of the “dinosaurs”.

My grandpa, echoing a verse in Ecclesiastes, would say about his own inventions (29 patents, by the way), there is nothing new (under the sun) . . . just new applications.

It is most foolish for anyone to belittle all that has gone before and presume to be the “first” in any endeavor . . . such are the seeds of failure.

gadfly

Plastic_Planes said...

I have a question for "plastic planes" and any other ex-eclipse employee reading the blog:

No

Cessna Fan said...

When I first started at Eclipse I was told my 300 or so shares would be worth 150K to 350K at IPO depending on whose who believed, when I left I belived it would be worth around negative $8,000, the amount I would have spent to purchase my shares, so the answer to the question is I bought zero shares.

PubGrubber said...

AJ

I purchased all that I had vested.

Frank Castle said...

Ken,

This may come as a shock to you, but I believe Metal Guy slammed you inappropriately.

I would believe, that you would provide the safest flying environment to yourself, and your family, and others you would share the skies with.

All slamming aside, I think the personal attack was out of line. It's one thing to think you are not all there for taking the Company's side in all this, and we all have razzed you about that. It's quite another to accuse you of taking your family's safety so frivilously.

Sorry. I don't roll that way.

Frank

Jake Pliskin said...

i would guess lumar is pretty close (however slightly low) with the 200k per day outlay, but this would be for labor only in my opinion.

200K per day means an average company cost of $200 per employee which to me seems low. at any rate it works out to 4.1 million / month, (assuming 250 working days) for just labor, now add in other expenses at a rate i'd hate to guess at and it makes me wonder just how long eclipse has to sort these things out.

Frank Castle said...

I'm betting either the heaters aren't on long enough, or they aren't hot enough.

I don't think it's a "design" issue either. Maybe from Harco's side, not Eclipse.

Frank

Planet eX said...

I'm wondering if it's an Eclipse design fault and not a Herco fault. As for Harco making pitot probes for 40 years, I don't think so...pitot/static probes for them seem to be a new endeavor in sensing. TSO on their pitot/static and ADC products is only from 2006. They have, however, been making products since 1951 (mostly engine sensors).

http://www.memsinfo.jp/whitepaper/WP137.pdf

Note that the agreement was signed in 2006 with Memscap.

BTW, the Harco pitot/AOA probe has a 125 watt heater in it.

bill e. goat said...

Cheeze, keeping up with this blog is more work, than work.

Ken,
Thanks for sharing the info regarding the info regarding the pitot probe icing problems. I suspect these would have been discovered later in the icing cert testing, if it had not already shown up. Yes, it was a bad thing, and yes, Eclipse shouldn't be delivering airplanes until AFTER they have done FIKI. I suspect the problem is not with the probe deice, but rather with the ice detection system.

Anyway, thanks for sharing with us. Sorry you get beat up everytime you do.

bill e. goat said...

Gunner and Jetprop jockey,

There is a photo on the Eclipse website showing the third pitot probe, sorry I couldn't create a link to it, but go to the sixth picture down on this url (two pitot probes on the left side, one on the right):

http://www.eclipseaviation.com/eclipse_500/gallery/images.html

bill e. goat said...

Gunner, Jetprop,

Sorry, wordwrap sometimes truncates my links, you might have to 'stitch" this together:
http://www.eclipseaviation.com
/eclipse_500/gallery/images.html

bill e. goat said...

Flight Center,

I'm not the resident historian here, just the resident village idiot. But I think 3 pitot sources and 2 aoa sources are pretty common.

You don't see reference to a third "voting" source in the Garmin documentation, because it's not provided by Garmin, but rather by some French outfit (their stupid web site is harder to navigate than US stupid websites, so I couldn't dig up much more than to point you here) Probably have to "stitch" the halves below together, because I'm too stupid and lazy (mostly, both) to figure out how to make a web site :)

http://www.memscap.com/
dowload/20050511_cessna_en.pdf

(yes, download IS misspelled, but that's what the link had...did I mis-spell misspell???)

Regarding production rates, it is unprecedented for a startup to hit 400 airplanes the first year. But, it is unprecedented for a startup to have access to the "deep pockets" that Eclipse does, so technically, yes it is possible for them to crank out 400 planes the first year (Plastic Planes seems to be on the level, from what I've read, see his post at 2:13 PM).

But due to the incompetent management demonstrated so far, I agree with P_P's forecast of 200-250 airplanes per year (and also his cost estimates of 2$M+).

I would put "peak" production at 400 airplanes per year, maybe 4 years from now. I think they have the facilities to build 1000 per year, but they haven't hired nor managed the talent to do so. Nor do I think the demand is there for more than 300 or so per year.

BTW, 250 per year IS pretty dang good, especially for a startup, just not particularly good for a company that has spent $1B.

Looks like flight international did a Mustang review on Oct 17, 2006:

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2006/10/17/209934/flight-test-cessna-mustang-easy-rider.html

bill e. goat said...

Stupid word wrap/
Stupid me/whatever:

http://www.flightglobal.com
/articles/2006/10/17/209934/
flight-test-cessna-mustang
-easy-rider.html

bill e. goat said...

Gadfly, Lumar,
Time to pull the plug tonight!

btw, in Germany, when you pull the plug, to things drain cw or ccw???

...or is that the southern hemisphere...

Metal Guy said...

The major difference between the normal issues found with a typical new aircraft and the situation with Eclipse, is that they are really only about half finished with the design. There are still lots and lots of areas where design flaws can be introduced at this point in the game.

I’m speculating that given all of the indicators that we are seeing, there will be literally dozens more significant design issues that will crop up. The whole avionics package is only fractionally functional and the whole ring-out effort really has not even started for that. Many of the traditionally really difficult systems are simply non-operational at this point (advanced autopilot functions, terrain, traffic, weather and FMS for example). Combine this with the speculated financial crisis and the pressure to deliver aircraft that it creates, the environment is primed for cutting corners and delivering under tested product. Thus, one can reasonably expect an abnormally high number of issues will continue to be found moving forward. More so than a traditional aircraft introduction.

No personal slam intended against Ken, but if the above formula creates an artificially high number of design issues, I’m sure Ken will re-evaluate at some point whether he is willing to put his family in the plane, as would we all.

The other abnormally high risk for Eclipse is market perception. If the current rate of issues is maintained and does not taper off dramatically over time, this, when specifically compared to the Mustang (which it will be compared to), the aircraft will build a reputation as a stinker. If it has a reputation as a stinker, people won’t put their families on it. I still shy away from DC-10’s for example.

These are very real risks that Eclipse faces, given how truly early in the design cycle they intend to ship product in volume.

Ken Meyer said...

goat wrote,
"I think 3 pitot sources and 2 aoa sources are pretty common.

You don't see reference to a third "voting" source in the Garmin documentation, because it's not provided by Garmin,"


It's not provided by Garmin, true. However you're suggesting it is provided on the Mustang by that French firm. Cessna, however, didn't get that memo :)

Here's what Cessna says the Mustang carries for pitot/static information:

"The pitot-static system includes two electrically heated pitot and static sources. Each is cross-plumbed into dual solid state digital air data computers (ADCs) located behind each PFD."

Two, not three, pitot sources on the Mustang, Goat.

Ken

Gunner said...

Two, not three, pitot sources on the Mustang

Two that function out of the box, Ken. ;-)

Seriously, comparisons to Mustang are inevitable; but must they be made every time the Eclipse Faithful wish to divert attention from known Eclipse problems? It smacks of looking for "solace"; and solace has no place in the design of a new aircraft. It's scary enough just to read that word in Vern's memo.
Gunner

Ken Meyer said...

gunner wrote,
"Seriously, comparisons to Mustang are inevitable; but must they be made every time the Eclipse Faithful wish to divert attention from known Eclipse problems? It smacks of looking for 'solace'"


Rich; I was correcting the misinformation posted by someone else. You gotta a problem with that? If so, I can understand it since you've been the source of a lot of the misinformation here :)

As for solace, thanks but no thanks. For me, buying a plane is a cold-hearted business decision. I took a real serious look at the A-700, and I'm still looking at the Mustang.

But for those who do need solace, Eclipse buyers know that their patience with Eclipse teething pains is buying them an aircraft that is, in many significant ways, more capable than the competition and yet saves them over a million bucks in the process. That's a lot of solace!

Ken

Gunner said...

sigh

airtaximan said...

Ken,

why not 5, 7 or 9 probes, once we're voting?
;)

Somehow Cessna thinks 2 working probes are enough.

I trust Cessna...

airtaximan said...

How many IOU's do you think E-clips owes the FAA? This was Vern's comment at EAA when they got the Provisional TC?

With all the current problems, and issues, how many fixes are required/promised so far?

We should develop a list...I've lost track...

Anyone know if fatigue testing is normally required by the FAA for TC? EAC got a waiver...is this somehow "owed"?
- how do you design an aircraft for high cycle durability, without fatigue testing?

- I think today is the 1 year anniversary of this Blog - Thanks Stan, happy birthday.

Its provided a lot of enjoyment and insight.

Gunner said...

AT:
To be developed and/or fixed:

Known:
Avio NextGrift
Window Cracks
Wing Spar Bushings
RVSM
FIKI
DME
Third AHRS
Pitot Heat (VMC only)
Training and Simulators
Jet Complete finalization

Possible:
Wheels and brakes

Gunner

Gunner said...

Oops:
GPU starts

Gunner

airtaximan said...

adders?

cert for part 135
6th seat

all the aero mods (can we list them?)

Y/N?

Q- do they still have the insurance relationships in place, or did it evaporate when United left?

FlightCenter said...

The reason three air data sources are better than two is the same reason three attitude sources are required for Part 135 operations.

If you have a failure of one of the sources, you can continue operation, because you can unambiguously determine which source has failed.

With only two air data sensors, it may not be possible to tell which one has failed. You just know that one of the air data sensors has failed. It is left up to the pilot to figure out which one to trust.

airtaximan said...

tip tanks?

airtaximan said...

FC:

good to know...

So the Mustang cannot be used Part 135?

airtaximan said...

more adders, possibly:

- was there not a compressor stall issue?

- was there some promised FADEC work required aswell?

:(

FlightCenter said...

"Eclipse 500 aircraft have experienced three in-flight events in which pitot pressure was lost on both left and right primary air data sources, ..." states the Eclipse CTC. "The standby airspeed indication was not affected, and continued to function properly. "

This quote leads me to believe that Eclipse has done a good job by designing an independent and redundant sensor into the aircraft (at least as far as air data sensors goes.)

One of the Part 135 requirements for a third attitude source is that the source should be an independent source of attitude information.

As airtaximan points out, there is not much point to providing more than two sensors... if all the sensors (and related systems) are the same and have the same type of failure mechanisms built in to them.

Looks like the two primary sources of air data information on the Eclipse are identical, same sensor, same air data computer.... and they both failed in the same way. Good thing Eclipse has an independent source of air data on the airplane.

FlightCenter said...

Part 135 operation requires a third independent attitude source (among other things). It does not require a third independent air data source.

The reason for the distinction is that, loss of attitude is a much more critical failure than loss of air data.

At NBAA, Jack Pelton stated that the Mustang will be sold to Part 135 operators. While the Cessna website doesn't mention option packages, the Mustang must have a third attitude source as an option for their Part 135 customers.

lumar said...

"Eclipse 500 aircraft have experienced three in-flight events in which pitot pressure was lost on both left and right primary air data sources, ..."

I had to install a S-Transponder in one of my aircrafts. After the installation, the speed was not raising and the airfield to short to abandon the TOF. No speed indication - so what?

I checked the speed with my GPS (less headwind) and there is not any problem to fly with.

Gunner said...

"they both failed in the same way. Good thing Eclipse has an independent source of air data on the airplane."

Yep. And if Ford Pintos were just shipped with a spare fuel tank, they'd have been as good as Volvos.

If you can't make the first two separate pitot systems work, at least you can find "solace" in additional redundancy. Disruptive Technology at its finest. ;-)
Gunner

airtaximan said...

gunner,

what do you think about my proposed adders to the list, I'm sure someone can add "rumors" like skin thickness, buckling, twisting etc..

Can you keep the list, ad and subtract as you see to your initial list?

I expect someone might add some new surprises, as well...

Gunner said...

AT-
I thought the tip tanks were certified. No?

I'm not about to start keeping lists when this one will immediately be attacked as "old news; they fixed that".

But that's the nature of dealing with Bloggers who can't tell the difference between present and future. It's why they really should take another look at the Moller. What and aircraft THAT is. ;-)
Gunner

gadfly said...

Gunner

‘Speaking of Pinto’s and Volvo’s, when we were in Sweden, I asked a cab driver, why he didn’t use a Volvo. He said he couldn’t afford a car that would always be in the shop for repairs. (I noticed most Swedes drove Toyota’s and Ford’s . . . that was a surprise! . . . a reminder of the can of beans.)

So, I would be interested: If they had the means to fly any plane (in a similar price range) of their choice, how many Eclipse employees would choose an E500?

gadfly

mirage00 said...

If you can't make the first two separate pitot systems work, at least you can find "solace" in additional redundancy.

Similar to Cessna's problem with the G1000's I guess. Good thing they didnt have pilots flying that bird when they "discovered" the "glitch".

A proven company at it's best.

Solace.......

Gunner said...

Ummm, Cessna didn't insist on Publicity Stunt "deliveries" after discovery of the glitch. Looks like Cessna required no "solace". ;-)

Gunner

airtaximan said...

Gunner,

Tip tanks-NG...the larger ones?

Gunner, that's why I want a list...it's tough to remember how many issues there are at this point, and keep them all straight.

It's OK to have both the "admitted issues", "rumored issues" categories.

mirage00 said...

Ummm, Cessna didn't insist on Publicity Stunt "deliveries" after discovery of the glitch.

Ummm... just one delivery. How lucky or was it just convenient?

Solace....

airtaximan said...

Its kinda funny listening to the remarks about Cessna. I guess Vern's cool-aid works like magic on some folks.

Here's the score on the avionics:
Cessna: a software glitch is being resolved after 4 years of development.
E-clips: the whole system is being thrown in the garbage after 8 years of development.

Cessna won't deliver planes before it's fixed.

E-clips is trying to deliver planes knowing the system will have to be replaced.

I don't much see where Cessna's situation provides any solace to E-clips. Quite to the contrary - Cessna built and certified their plane in 1/2 the time as E-clips, and E-clipses avionics issues are far more dramatic than Cessna's - I'd be MORE worried given the situation, and the promises made to have the e-clips replacement avionics suite completed in a few months, ready for retrofit.

this seems like a BIG challenge for E-clips...no comfort knowing Cessna has not delivered in months while fixing the glitch.

Just my opinion...

Gunner said...

Mirage-
This is really pretty silly.

The bloggers here have been pretty generous to Eclipse on this minor FUBAR. I've been downright magnanimous. The Mustang bears not a fraction of the design, install or build problems that Eclipse is becoming legend for.

They had a problem with the Garmin and voluntarily held all deliveries until it's resolved. Never once did they point to the absolute Goat Screw in ABQ to justify their aircraft as viable (unlike Vern).

Why even bring them up? Both companies are on the same time line for delivery of promised jets this year: Cessna at 1/250; Eclipse at 4/1000. The difference is that the Cessna is certified in its final form, can be flown in Known icing, can be flown above FL240 and, believe it or not, can actually be flown IMC.

Let it go. You're only going to demonstrate that it doesn't pay for the rest of us to give Eclipse a pass on any of its screw-ups.

Gunner

Planet eX said...

At NBAA, Jack Pelton stated that the Mustang will be sold to Part 135 operators. While the Cessna website doesn't mention option packages, the Mustang must have a third attitude source as an option for their Part 135 customers.

Not as an option - standard equipment (look above the center display).

mirage00 said...

The difference is that the Cessna is certified in its final form, can be flown in Known icing, can be flown above FL240 and, believe it or not, can actually be flown IMC.

But can't be delivered.

Solace....

Gunner said...

Of course it "can" be delivered. Unlike Eclipse, Cessna "won't" deliver unfinished aircraft.

Don't even start down this road, Mirage. Comparing Eclipse to Mustang, in terms of current status, simply makes it look like the EA-500 can't stand on its own merits.

Gunner

sparky said...

Mirage, you just may be taking the lead for most idiotic iterations away from ken, you argue your point like a 4-year old.

Real aircraft manufacturers produce aircraft that DON'T need EXTENSIVE retrofits to work as advertised.

Black Tulip said...

Step right up folks...

What am I offered for the blog handle,

"SOLACE SEEKER"

It should get a lot of use here and be much sought after. I'll exchange it for an Eclipse delivery position of your choice.

Black Tulip

gadfly said...

Solace Eclipse . . . has an interesting ring to it . . . Now you see it, now you don't!

airtaximan said...

Sparky,

You would think that with $1billion and 8 years at least e-clips could have made an honest run at impersonating an aircraft company...

...with a real support network, a training program up an running with sims, etc, sufficient mentor pilots trained, etc...

Either they really do not belive they'll have the demand they are claiming, or they don't care, or they have no clue.

Its inexcusable why these basic support services are not established and ready for the hundreds of deliveries that will occur in the next few months.

Their approach has been like any poor startup in this regard, one with a normal backlog of orders, limited funds, and no clue as to when they will get a PC, really. They leave a lot of this stuff until the end...as an afterthought.

an after-8-years-and-$1billion-thought

gadfly said...

Airtaximan

Throughout human history, almost no one with unlimited resources succeeds in a new enterprise. Almost every great achievement came at great sacrifice to the author. There are, no doubt, exceptions . . . at least on surface appearances. But in every case of which I am aware, there was a price to be paid “up front” (and all too often, later as well) . . . on very rare occasions comes success.

It is highly unlikely that this project will be any different. No matter how many resources, human pride and assumptions will always “overspend”. (The “modern” term is “shortfall”.) By the time “reality” sets in, the enterprise is well over budget . . . and goes on to spend yet more. And the original goal is usually either forgotten, or terribly out of focus . . . almost unrecognizable, even to the “author”.

In most cases, those who support the enterprise will find any number of things, or persons, to blame, but not often themselves.

Watching the thing play out is like watching an old movie . . . the end is certain, but there is a fascination in seeing the same old story, repeated once again. In a way, there is a certain dark humor, but a sadness in seeing people hurt in the process.

Let’s hope that the people who have put their trust in this enterprise are “not hurt”, or at least have the opportunity to recover from what appears to be the conclusion.

And again, I may be totally mistaken. But somehow, it seems that we will not have long to find out.

gadfly

Frank Castle said...

Yes, that's right. Look at the picture.

Yes, if the PFD's take a dump, there are mechanical backup instruments, attitude, airspeed, altitude.

Operating independent of Garfield, but using the same plumbing.

Good thing Eclipse has an independent source of air data on the airplane.

I haven't seen any backup instruments on the panel, unless they decided to put them there with the next grift. Must have been test instrumentation, not actual going-to-be-delivered-to-customer equipment.

Or, maybe you'll get the wristwatch decoder band with altimeter when you get your handheld GPS.

Frank Castle said...

I am taking great solace in watching the koolaid krowd twist with delight everytime the Mustang is mentioned.

Just can't hang out on yer own, gotta try and hang on to the Big Boy's coattails ??

When our customers actually take delivery, and FLY THEM AWAY AT THE SAME TIME, they will be happy.

Not sitting in a barn in Cali, wishing for "a little plane that might........."

Solace, indeed.

airtaximan said...

GAdfly:

I hate to predict demise.

I agree with what you write, but for me, the process is very interesting to watch. A few things to consider:

1- while there is no such thing as unlimited funds, Vern seems to be able to keep the cash coming in. His worst moment so far was looking for cash around the Williams debacle failure, and Al Mann basically "doubled down" saving the company. There are many reasons to invest in E-clips, including being part of "the club", rubbing noses with Bill Gates, and from an institutional point of view, the promise of further business from associated companies.

2- somehow, there seems to be unprecedented levels of "support" from the agencies, etc. This alone can push them along. Some would argue without this mysterious "special treatment" there would be no IOU's to the FAA, no TC, and no deliveries today. (I said some would argue).

3- There have been companies that have lost a lot more than E-clips for a lot longer, before going belly up. I do not think they will fade soon - they will get more money. They can limp along delivering planes, even make a mockery of the PC, and repair, repair, repair, for a long time.

4- the die-hards seem to be extremely supportive. This along can provide 2-3 years of production, at what looks to be the prevailing ramp rate of maybe 100, 200, 300, 400 planes per year.

5- there's a lot that can happen, and these guys are very smart, schrewd (too schrewed, really) and very resourceful. The things pointed out on this blog and often dismissed as stupid moves, or a lack of knowledge, are easily explained as well as "e-clips is focusing on something different". They have the $millions flowing in, and everyone involved there seems to be OK with their focus, tactics, problems, and the way they handle their business. So, maybe they have a plan? Who knows?

I take issue with the tactics. I belive there's much more manipulation of the orderbook, positions, relationship with Dayjet, supplier issues, quality isses, TC, PC, etc...than meets the eye. The e-clips "line" does not make sense...and I would like to better understand it. Maybe I never will. But from an industry perspective, you CAN learn alot from this. I believe there's a lot that can come to light.

I do not think they are going broke any time soon. They have a demonstrated competency of getting investors by coloring the truth their way.

It's facinating.

airtaximan said...

Frank:

Can you imagine what would happen to Cessna's brand if they tried to "deliver" planes in the e-clips condition to customers?

Imagine announcing that you'll be given a handheld GPS to use in your plane becasue part of the Avionics does not work?

Imagine the fixes, retrofits, etc.

- No one would take delivery
- The stock market would hammer the stock
- The news media would be crying fowl

I cannot belive anyone is actually giving up a $60% payment to E-clips at this point. Nor can I imagine actually signing and taking delivery without a HOLDBACK. If somehow forced to take delivery, I would insist that $150,000 or more was withheld towards the mods, retrofits, etc...

"die-hards" they are...

bill e. goat said...

Hi Frank,

Thanks for the clarification regarding air data. I knew the Mustang had three "indicators" (two Garmin and one standby), I assumed it had three pitot probes also.

It does seem odd that there are only two pitot probes; a typical problem might be a bird hitting one of them, then there would still be a split- I don't see how it could be resolved.

Ho-hum stuff: I have seen some systems use the stand-alone engine air data system (sort of a "limp home" air data system built into some engines) be used for validation (no pneumatic lines to the front, just digital data transmitted forward), maybe that's what's going on here, but I doubt it...

(This scheme isn't particularly accurate (the engine airdata sources aren't meant to optomize engine performance, just to keep it running), so it isn't used to correct the cockpit data, but just to decide which source "gets voted off the island").

From scrutinizing the pictures, I can't see where the static ports are- are they built into the pitot probe assy ? (that sounds a little odd, but I've seen it, just can't remember where...)

Also, it looks like the TAT probe is the small probe up by the R/H nose gear door?

Anyway, back to ambiguity resolution; in the Mustang, the pilot is the "voting" element in this arrangement, by comparing the Garmin indications to the standby reading.

bill e. goat said...

ATM, Gadfly,

I agree- it is fascinating. "They sure put on a good show"!

Gunner said...

Gad-
These words of yours are worth repeating:
'And the original goal is usually either forgotten, or terribly out of focus . . . almost unrecognizable, even to the “author”. '

You state with far greater articulation what I've been saying for 3 months. Very few scams start out that way; they simply grow into the mold by degrees because it appears easier, because ego blinds or because desperation rules. Eclipse did NOT start out as a scam, IMHO.

Has it fallen into the mold? Time will tell.

This much is for certain: every minute they spend peeking over the fence at Wichita is one minute they might have spent making the EA-500 more viable. And that goes for Bloggers as much as it applies to Vern Raburn

The time to seek "solace" is after you've given it all you had and have admitted [noble] defeat; not in the midst of your battle for survival.
Gunner

BD5 Believer said...

I am saddned to see only a few fellow bloggers are calling out Vern's total unprofessional comments about Cessna. "REAL" CEO's do not do that, period.

Vern talks about being transparent, what total BS. This boy is way over his head! You have already lost the debate the minute you go down this road as a CEO. Totally undignified for the self appointed leader of the VLJ movement. REAL companies have media savy folks to 'hit" the competition, leaving the CEO above the fray.

Very sad, very sad.