Paper Airplane or Fait Accompli?
To the faithful, it is fait accompli, the program is coming into fruition. After all, Eclipse has a Type Certificate, a Production Certificate, airplanes are trickling off the production line, awarded Certificates of Airworthiness, and titles transferred to the very patient owners in waiting. Even a handful of flights are showing up on http://www.flightaware.com/.
However, the skeptics look at the program and largely share whytech's view:
"My picture of the situation is far from complete, but here is what seems to be the case in broad strokes:
1. the acft is terribly late
2. because it is late, it is no longer “revolutionary,” and other manufacturers have introduced designs which achieve parity or even do better in some respects
3. the acft will apparently not meet the original claims for performance
4. their are many, many teething problems now known, and, it is likely that more will be revealed as field experience with the acft is gained
5. there is no support network up and running for the acft yet
6. the training program is not yet up and running at a “professional grade” level
7. there are numerous airframe and systems mods that will be required, with perhaps more to come
8. the insurance situation remains muddy
9. the Company’s financial future appears to be in question
10. other issues that I have forgotten to include?
With this view in mind, if I were a depositor, I would be working with my attorney to recover my deposit, (or would likely forfeit my deposit if I had not yet reached the 60% threshold).
Who needs this aggravation and disappointment? Buying a jet should be a fun and exciting experience for an owner/pilot. If I just had to have an Eclipse, I’d get my money back now, and wait to see what happens before putting $1.5mm -$2.0mm on the line.
I am having trouble seeing and understanding the rationale for staying with it after all that has happened just so far."
Alexa, one of the faithful, explains it this way:
"My rational….there is no other aircraft announced or available that has similar capability at an equivalent price point. Remember many of the early buyers have gotten preferential pricing. The Eclipse even today fills a niche. Most of us that have been around aviation expect new designs to have teething problems. I can’t speak for other customers but my interaction with Eclipse employees lead me to believe that they truly care and are doing everything possible to find and correct any problems."
Gunner, had a different take:
"In some cases, I think it's simply explained as JetJock Fever. Let's face it, every one of us flying a piston or turboprop aircraft would LOVE to be flying a jet, myself included."
"Two opposite opinions on virtually everything...kinda like religion...based on belief more than fact. Then "facts" used to support the beliefs.
Both sides are probably comprised of nice folks...just of differing beliefs.
The lack of real data (on purpose) is the problem. This IS the first jet in history with so many myths, inaccuracies, missing functionality, and wavering guarantees.."
"Never have we seen a SUCCESSFUL aviation company start off by delivering half finished, half certified aircraft."
Then sparky wrote:
"That's where the arguments start. Critics look at what IS, and comment on it. The backers look at what is PROMISED and argue back as though it's a forgone conclusion that it will happen."
What has been promised to the faithful are the next three milestone events:
1. Certification of the "B" mods, which according to the company, will bring the airplane performance into compliance with the performance guarantees required by the purchase agreement.
2. Certification of the aircraft for flight into known icing, promised by September but an unlikely goal unless the company decides to venture into South America this summer in a search for natural icing.
3. Full integration of the avionics suite and certification by the FAA.
Until these events are accomplished, the Eclipse 500 will remain a paper airplane in the eyes of most.