Wednesday, May 09, 2007


A Tangled Web

Earlier this month, FlightCenter suggested we "consider whether Eclipse’s support model is sustainable."

He further surmised "that the Eclipse 500 is an airplane that will have significantly higher down time and support costs than Eclipse and /or Eclipse 500 owners have budgeted for. The fact is that there are many highly inter-related systems on this airplane which are provided by independent suppliers.

When the airplane’s electronics catches a cold, it is going to be very hard to figure out which system or systems are causing the problem. Let’s look at the problem from the perspective of Eclipse and its vendors. Many of their suppliers are not naturally aligned, and in many cases they are direct competitors. (Honeywell, Garmin, and Chelton, for example).

When problems are found, coordinating the fixes won't be easy. It is not hard to imagine that there will be finger pointing – and assertions of “not my problem” among the vendors. For example, who is to blame when the aircraft doesn't capture and hold a course correctly? The autopilot manufacturer? (S-Tec) The FMS software provider? (Chelton) The radio provider? (Honeywell) The GPS vendor? (FreeFlight Systems) The display manufacturer? (IS&S) The control system vendor? (Autronics) or the systems integrator? (Eclipse)

What happens if the answer to these questions is that some or all of the above systems will need to be fixed and a new version of several vendors’ products must be released? Then Eclipse will need to coordinate product fixes from up to 7 different companies to provide a fix for a problem that the pilot will perceive as an autopilot problem. Once all 7 companies have produced a fix, then Eclipse is going to need to verify that the fixes are valid.

Let’s look at the problem from the perspective of the support center. How does the repair guy out on the line diagnose and fix problems that could be spread across 7 or 8 vendors? Answer – with great difficulty.

Bottom line, an Eclipse 500 is going to spend a lot of time in the shop while the repair guy on the line or the service technician scratches his head...So the natural reaction will be that he'll pull a lot of boxes out of the airplane and send them back, in the hopes that getting a repaired box will fix the problem. However, a very high percentage of those boxes are going to work just fine when they make it back to the original vendors’ repair shop. The most likely response will be for the vendor to verify that their equipment is working to specification and to send their box right back to the service center unchanged with a note saying something like no trouble found. The service guy is going to reinstall the boxes and find out that he still has the exact same problem.

Which leads right back to the service tech scratching his head trying to figure out what to do next and how to fix the problem…and the Eclipse 500 owner will be wondering when he is going to be able to fly again."

End quote.

In the Eclipse vs Mustang comparison, Cessna framed the point in a very similar manner:

"Eclipse 500 has incorporated features into its aircraft that they term as revolutionary. One such application is the introduction of their AVIO NG system. AVIO NG is a centralized, redundant computer system that controls all aspects of the aircraft – landing gear, brakes, secondary flight controls, fuel, pressurization, electrical and de-ice systems, engines, as well as avionics. Everything that happens in the aircraft occurs through the AVIO NG system.

AVIO NG represents an intricate system of aircraft control. Such a new and complex system can impact the operator.

• Complex systems increase the difficult in troubleshooting system problems.


• Since the Eclipse is so intensive in electrical systems, it takes more electronic expertise to troubleshoot and resolve system faults.

• The knowledge to repair an Eclipse may not be available at all Fixed Base Operators. Only authorized Eclipse service facilities may be able to work on the aircraft, and these are limited in number.

• With the heavy reliance on the AVIO NG as the only means to interface with system functioning, the pilot may spend too much time "head down" "communicating" with the system and not "flying" the aircraft. A visual sign of this concern is the standard keyboard that is attached to the Eclipse's panel.

• Technology must provide real benefits to the customer in the form of increased productivity or lower costs. The complexity inherent in the systems design of the Eclipse 500 may not provide these benefits."

End quote.

Due to their lofty objectives, Eclipse wove a tangled web for themselves. Fully integrate a system to make it technically superior to all other small business jets...save weight, reduce costs, reduce the pilot's workload, enhance safety...who can argue with their goals.

Plus, the company could get something in return. Few of the components are off the shelf, most everything including the FADEC system are Eclipse specific. Meaning that customers will be fully dependent on Eclipse for parts and $ervice.

However, if the company fails to survive, support for these airplanes will be very difficult to come by.


189 comments:

airtaximan said...

Stan:

There you go again with all your negativity...man, this is getting so old!

Can't you figure out that e-clips has this 100% in the bag covered? Don't you knw they have taken care of this, accounted for it, and planned for all possible problems?

GEEZ, man - Avio... er, ah, umm.. I mean AVIO-NG IS bullet freakin proof. NONE of what you sat will happen. It's designed to be like airliner avionics/systems...no way this will ever fail, or fail to meet spec, or create the kind of problems you are outlining.

Just remember the heritage - Original AVIO...
(which does NOT stand for:
A hhh,
V ern,
I think we need to replace the
O perating system)

Which was thrown in the garbage...

Now we have NG...

Best of luck to all the future owners...
N iner
G rand spent fixing avio again

or

N o
G o, planes in the shop again

Ken Meyer said...

Boy, Stan, you missed the boat on this one. Everybody knows I'm looking at both the Eclipse and the Mustang. Eclipse wins hands-down for maintainability.

Eclipse was designed to be an air taxi where high cycles and low down time would be essentials.

A lot of thought went into how to achieve that goal, and here's what they wound up doing:

**They outright eliminated a number of maintenance-intensive systems. There is no high-pressure hydraulic system in this plane, no power brakes, no thrust reversers. None of those are needed, and they add to maintenance.

**Wherever possible, they simplified systems. There is no complex gear mechanism with complicated interconnects between the individual wheel mechanisms like on my 340. Instead it uses smart actuators that are self-adjusting and self-rigging. There is no complex emergency gear mechanism or blowdown system; it's a simple gravity drop.

**They integrated a number of systems. For instance, one box contains a whole "sensor suite" consisting of AHRS, GPS and AirData computer.

**They're utilizing long-life parts such as brushless motors, LEDs, proximity switches, electronic circuit breakers, and smart actuators.

**They put almost everything electronic within the pressure hull so vulnerable circuitry would not be subjected to the harsh environment outside the pressure hull.

**They gave a tremendous amount of thought to access--floor panels and wall panels are easily removable. There are no components buried where they're hard to get to.

**They designed things for fast swapping--a windshield can be replaced in less than 6 man-hours (it's 150 man-hours on a CJ1)

**They implemented Line Replaceable Units (LRU) and simple interconnectability for major components

**They networked all major components to provide continuous built-in self-diagnostic capability. The aircraft computer system tells you when it is time to swap an LRU. It tells maintenance, too--fault data is collected and stored onboard in the Data Storage Unit for maintenance crews to download in order to facilitate repairs.

The end result is that the plane doesn't have a scheduled maintenance check until 300 hours. Air taxi operators can split that up into bite-sized pieces that can be done overnight so the plane is seldom unavailable for revenue service.

Maintainability is one of the key selling points of the Eclipse. It's not a downside. It's a plus. A big plus.

Ken

Stan Blankenship said...

Ken,

You wear me out, I'm going to go read a good book. Will leave to the other guys to explain to you the realities of these things.

Ken Meyer said...

Stan wrote,

"I'm going to go read a good book."

Here's one that will actually enlighten you:

White Paper on Eclipse Reliability and Maintainability

Ken

Gunner said...

Ken Meyer said,
"They designed things for fast swapping--a windshield can be replaced in less than 6 man-hours"

I'd call that pretty "prepared", considering what we later learned about the windshield life expectancy. Imagine having to pay for a 150 hour windshield fix every 50 flight hours!

This company has really got it all goin' on. Downright disruptive! ;-)
Gunner

Gunner said...

ps: Are the "delivered planes" still filing IFR with a Slant Alpha designation? Can they fly IMC yet? Last we heard from Vern, they cannot.
Gunner

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Ken,

Keep in mind that that whitepaper was prepared by the same company that gave you:

NO FMS

Limited Autopilot

NO IMC

NO FIKI

NO GPS after the initial database expires without equipment mods

NO DME after the initial database expires without equipment mods

NO RVSM after the initial database expires without equipment mods

Cracking Windows\Windshields resulting in obscene inspection and replacement intervals

Loose Wing Attach Bushings

A company that LIED about the DayJet portion of the order book

A company that LIED about why it was not at AOPA

A company that 'certified' an airplane that so missed the mark in terms of meeting the guarantees and promises originally made, out of the gate, that they announced a follow-on "A" Model BEFORE the first plane was 'delivered'.

This whitepaper is from a company that says their plane is designed for high-dispatch, reliable, high-cycle 'air-taxi' use, but which in the field, in less than 4,000 hours, across 5 airframes, has suffered multiple transparency failures, wing attach bushing failures, tire and brake failures, FADEC failures, avionics failures.

Do you think the Mustang does not have Line Replacable Units? Or could it be that Cessna does not feel inclined to try and take advantage of unsophisticated buyers by tossing in cool sounding acronyms?

anonymous avionics engineer said...

In 2004 the Eclipse was totally different Avionics wise than it is today. Te 'smart actuators' that replace the hydraulics aren't as smart as they were originally supposed to be. Cycle power in mid stroke and they are lost. Doesn't sound too smart to me. Eclipse is looking for another vendor to replace that system. Much of the original avionics has been kludged now. 3 versions of Avio??? Get with reality here. These guys (management mostly) couldn't find their a__hole with both hands.

Ken Meyer said...

Gunner wrote,

"Are the "delivered planes" still filing IFR with a Slant Alpha designation?"

Of course. So what? Do you know what /A means?

I'm guessing you don't because your question makes no sense. Everybody in the world knows the GPS doesn't work yet in the earliest deliveries and the world knows the schedule for Avio NG. What's your point?

Ken

P.S. One thing we know for sure from the use of the /A is that all the gobbledegook on this blog about the DME not working is wrong.

Ken Meyer said...

"gunner wrote,
"Imagine having to pay for a 150 hour windshield fix every 50 flight hours!"


Using the force again, gunner? It was never "every 50 flight hours."

Ken

FreedomsJamtarts said...

As a B777 engineer, I can remember entry into service being plagued with "troubleshooting removals" of LRU's which return "No Fault Found" with a big invoice. Our airline, which had 10 years 767 experience before the 777 IES, pulled a FADEC approximately 12 times in the first three years of service. In the years I worked the line, and then as the 777 Engine manager, there was not a single confirmed fault in a FADEC. Normally it was a sensor or wiring fault. The 777 has an outstanding maintenance and dianostic system on board, but at the end of the day, every simple fault gives the mechanic the following options:
1. Change the sensor
2. Change the Wiring
3. Change the LRU.
Licensed engineers aren't dumb, they know the highest failure rates are in sensors, normally followed by wiring, but they also have management pressure to get the plane in the air, and therefore they look at the time available, look at the stock level, and change what they can.

After the fault reappears, they run into time pressure as the MEL relief for the item is running out, and the fault has to be fixed. On a few occasions, the decision was made to change FADEC, wiring and sensor all at once, to ensure the plane was clean to go.

Even simple faults on modern systems can be terribly expensive. At least in the airline world, you don't get much change out of $10 000 for a bench check, no fault found removal on a reasonable simple LRU.

My second concern here in Europe is the DME thing. Has anyone at Eclipse read JAR-OPS 1.865c (i) and (v)? You need two DME's to operate under JAR-OPS 1 (commercial aviation).

I thought it was pretty funny in one of the posts where the customer flight tested the Eclipse and compared the Synthetic DME indication to the distance on his Garmin 496, and the thrilled that they agreed. Thats comparing apples to apples if I ever saw it!

Try flying an approach to a field with a DME distance missed approach point, or FAF, when the GPS database airfield refence point is not co-located with the DME. Doesn't work today, but maybe Eclipse is paying Jeppsen to expand it's database to correct for this.

Since Germany introduced road user charges for trucks based on GPS distance, a market has flourished for GPS jammers. If you google GPS Jammer, it is no coincidence that the first hit is a Wikipedia entry in german.

The GPS signal are extremely low power signal transmitted from 19500km away. You can buy little battery powered devices to jam the signal for ranges up to about 10km.

I've had a GPS signal loss in a Seneca IFR over northern Italy. No idea why, and came back after about 6 minutes, but you sure are happy you have the VOR's tuned and DME's with them.

My understanding to the ATC road map for Europe is that the use of DME as the basis for navigation is to be greatly expanded as NDB's and VOR's are decommsioned, with a transition to Satellite based navigation as sole means sometime in the distant future using;
1. the Gallileo constellation once active (these will have IIRR three separate frequencies),
2.the Russion Glossnas is reactivated, and
3.Navstar.

The intent being at least six frequencies spread over various bands, with at least two on the constellations under some form of civilian control.

You can just picture the Eclipse approaching Frankfurt (to the wrong FAF) when a truck on the Autobahn below switches on his jammer. GPS position flags, DME distance flags, the pilot is left with two VORs and no BR-NAV). During the missed approach, the control gives him a BR-NAV waypoint clearance, but the pilot can't accept it. Controllers share stories about this sort of thing.

As it is, I can't see many European authorities approving the Eclipse for commercial operations (or even IFR Private use) unless it gets its dual DME installation, Standby instruments , and all the other JAR-OPS K and L required equipment.

Gunner said...

Ken-
I guess you're not reading the history lesson from Anonymous_Avionics_Engineer or the well articulated concerns of freedomsjamtarts. And why would you? Their positions directly conflict with the VernJet fantasy. But we've been talking about these issues for a year now.

Yes, Ken. I know what a Slant Alpha designation means. It means you are flying 1970's avionics technology; nothing wrong with that, unless you're doing it in a 2007 Jet designed to "revolutionize air travel".

It also means that DME is working, today. What about at the end of the 28 day cycle? How's that data loader coming? Did they finally get it fixed? Wow, that would be a real "milestone" of "progress". It would also demonstrate that you were disseminating false info (again) when you steadfastly denied any such problem in the first place.

Slant Alpha, huh? Cool beans. They should add in a 1950's Chevy type airspeed display and they could market it as the Retro Model. ;-)

As to replacing windows, stop parsing, Ken. I never stated the windows had to be replaced every 50 hours. Just that they MIGHT have to be, according to the Inspect Requirements. That's why they call it "disruptive technology".
Gunner

hummer said...

In reviewing N510KS flight records,
/Q, /K, /G & /L are filed. Since the discussion is concerning avionics, would someone identify each and the importance?

Gunner said...

/Q RVSM plus ADVANCED RNAV WITH TRANSPONDER AND MODE C. Required Navigational Performance (RNP)

/K RVSM plus ADVANCED RNAV WITH TRANSPONDER AND MODE C. FMS with DME/DME position updating.

/G Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), including GPS or Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), with en route and terminal capability.

/L RVSM plus ADVANCED RNAV WITH TRANSPONDER AND MODE C. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), including GPS or Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), with en route and terminal capability.

Then we have the current Eclipse:
/A Transponder with Mode C

Gunner

hummer said...

And. . . with proprietary software that is equipment specific? Someone has to be kidding. Vaporware?

airtaximan said...

Ken:

Its a nice brochure/white paper e-clips put out. Looks like a lot of work went into that paper.

I know its date is 2004, and they adopted these "design criteria" since the beginning in 1998 or so...
… and, since you brought every other system into the discussion, besides the avionics …

So, explain this to me please: Why did their initial power plant lasted around an hour?

- Hint: they had a program that burnt hundreds of millions of dollars, building the high cycle, reliable and maintainable air taxi plane, according to the design criteria that fed the document you cite and they promote. How then could they have chosen that new, experimental jet engine and remained with for 4 years or more, yet it couldn’t make it past first flight, due to durability, and reliability issues?

- How does this happen, Ken, when the whole design philosophy SUPPOSEDLY is based around reliability, maintainability and high cycle air taxi operations?
- PS. don't try to argue "they didn't know, they are not the engine manufacturer”. Ken Harness (engine guy from Williams) was employed by e-clips during this period, and Vern funded the engine program. He had had intimate insight into the design, progress (or lack thereof), and performance issues. E-clips remained with this engine for four years. In fact, they the whole program was based on this untested, very technically challenging, highly risky engine – AND THEY KNEW IT.

Ken Meyer said...

freedom wrote,
"I can't see many European authorities approving the Eclipse for commercial operations (or even IFR Private use) unless it gets its dual DME installation, Standby instruments , and all the other JAR-OPS K and L required equipment."

That's a good point.

Eclipse offers the International Operations package that addresses your concerns (aside from the backup attitude source--that's in the Part 135 package).

Ken

airtaximan said...

Ken on the phone with Vern again...

Ken: morning Vern...Yep...I told them "Eclipse wins hands-down for maintainability" AND, I sent the link to the White Paper..

Vern: I kNEW the white paper would come in handy one day, hold on...ANdrew, yup, trafics up on the White PAper section of the website, yes, ok...its Ken, he's using it... Ken, good thanks - did they buy it.

Ken: Ah Vern, I haven't put it on the market yet...wh...

Vern: NO, NO, not your e-clips, the Ppper?

Ken: Someone seems to be asking"how do you know, e-clips has no track record actually maintaining theplane, except to fix the cracked bushings and winshields, and that on planes that had not been delivered yet"

Vern: Just refer to the White Paper - it worked in the computer industry, OK.

Ken: sure..ah Vern, the plane WAS designed according to the principles in the White Paper, right?

Vern: SSsuure, Ken, don;t even give it a second thought.

Click..

airtaximan said...

Ken:

Sounds like an "IO you" package!

sparky said...

Ken wrote:

"Eclipse offers the International Operations package that addresses your concerns (aside from the backup attitude source--that's in the Part 135 package)."

What package would I need to order to have a fully functioning aircraft, for more than 28 days, without having to rely on extensive retro-fits?

oh yeah, that's either the Mustang package or the D-Jet package.

airtaximan said...

anyone read the recent ANN report on e-clips training?

- Vern is claiming they are institutung a SMS like the airlines and FOQUA program.

Sounds nice.

These programs require intensie participation from operators. Without it, there's no program. How can they guarantee participation? Even the airlines have trouble implimenting this, and they employee the pilots?

Furthermore, from this company that have a "finge pointintg" and "blame everyoneoutside the company" culture, I would think NO ONE would actually trust them to have anything to do with this. It requires complete openness and honesty from the pilots, and that environment is antithetical to the e-clips blame culture.

Any takers?

Ken Meyer said...

AT wrote,
"Why did their initial power plant lasted around an hour?"

Presumably because it didn't comform to specifications.

Ken

Ken Meyer said...

"What package would I need to order to have a fully functioning aircraft, for more than 28 days, without having to rely on extensive retro-fits?

oh yeah, that's either the Mustang package or the D-Jet package."


Well you could. Trouble is the "Mustang Package" will cost you almost twice as much. And we know there are 14 or so full-functioning Eclipse Jets flying around, sold at less than half the price of the Mustang. Yep, they don't yet have GPS. That's true. But they will. Guys are having a lot of fun flying their new jets even without GPS, trust me.

What about that "D-Jet Package?" Hard to say; right now it is vaporware. I asked gunner a while ago to tell us some basic numbers on the plane he ordered; it looks like he maybe doesn't know them. I don't fault him--there's an awful lot nobody knows about the D-Jet. It might be a good plane one day, but nobody knows.

Ken

Gunner said...

"Presumably because it didn't comform to specifications."

Positively ROTFLMAO!
Are we talking about the Engines or the entire Take-The-Money-When-You-Can-Get-It design and development of this aircraft? Why on earth would Eclipse have demonstrated and flown "non-conforming" engines?

Answer: There was money on the table, folks. Money on the table.
Gunner

Gunner said...

"And we know there are 14 or so full-functioning Eclipse Jets flying around"
Not according to the FAA or FlightAware, there aren't.

"Yep, they [Eclipse] don't yet have GPS. That's true. But they will.
[snip]
Right now it [D-Jet] is vaporware."


Agreed, as is the Jet Configuration Eclipse is currently selling. Vaporware; a promise; a Paper Airplane from the least credible manufacturer since Moller.

Difference is, Diamond doesn't refer to its "vaporware" by saying, "Don't worry; it's in there." Minor issue of professional pride and credibility, I suspect.

The Vernster and his fluff boys should try the approach. It'd be truly refreshing.
Gunner

Ken Meyer said...

"Agreed, as is the Jet Configuration Eclipse is currently selling. Vaporware; a promise; a Paper Airplane from the least credible manufacturer since Moller."

Good grief. You certainly are prone to emotionality when it comes to Eclipse, aren't you?

The Eclipse GPS doesn't work yet, and they haven't finished known icing certification. But it is a fully-functioning plane. It's a terrible stretch to call it a "paper airplane" like the D-Jet.

Rich, you don't have to worry about icing certification for your D-Jet, you have to worry about flight certification!

And I hope they're successful getting it--there will be more choices for pilots if they do. But there is no guarantee whatsoever that plane will get certification. Maybe it will; maybe it won't. I have a feeling you're thinking the same thing--why else pour money in new avionics into your 1990 BE58?

Ken

PubGrubber said...

Ken

Knowing what I know, I don't think the maintainability of the E-clips will be as simple as presented.

Be prepared for a fairly high labor bill when it comes time to change out some of the items. To remove the AHRS or ADC's will take two people and and about an hour for each one (there are 4). The Rudder Trim Actuator, if you don't have fingers the size and length of a pencil, it's gonna be a pain. I know what it took to convince people that it could actually be installed.

sparky said...

Sooooo...

The company that has a proven track record of producing aircraft, who doesn't release a press release every time somebody sneezes, is quietly plodding along, methodically building an airplane and you call it vaporware..

Eclipse, on the other hand, has missed every major milestone set by the company, released severely limited aircraft onto the market, promised fix after fix and knowingly lied (by omision)to their customers and their not considered vaporware?

How is it you trust anything Eclipse says? I'm asking this seriously. Name one thing eclipse has prodicted correctly. just one(with proof) you can do that, can't you?

Gunner said...

Ken-
Sigh. Back to the Diamond again, huh? OK, knock yourself out about my D-Jet purchases. I promise not to take the same attitude when you "defect" from Eclipse to buy that Mustang. You ARE buying a Mustang, yes?

As to my Baron, why would I not maintain and upgrade it? Who said I was selling it? It's in perfect condition and has never even been crashed. ;-) Even if I were to sell, I'd be hard pressed to do so with less than the best avionics imaginable. To quote the Hertz commercial, "Who do you think we are? Eclipse?" :-D

Gunner

Gunner said...

"Name one thing eclipse has predicted correctly."

I can: they promised Disruptive Technology. Boy, is it ever disruptive!
Gunner

flyger said...

Ken Meyer said...

Boy, Stan, you missed the boat on this one. Everybody knows I'm looking at both the Eclipse and the Mustang. Eclipse wins hands-down for maintainability.


One airplane is from a company that has done this for 40+ years and maintains the largest biz jet fleet in the world.

The other is from a company that has never built any plane and is yet to perform any service at all.

I think you are being premature declaring a "winner". After all, Eclipse has shown to be wildly optimistic in just about everything they do. What makes them less so when it comes to predicting maintenance and service requirements?

Stan Blankenship said...

Ken,

I didn't read the "White Paper" but I did read an e-mail sent by an ex-employee who wrote:

"If the airplane, it's systems, and Vern don't kill the program the maintenance costs sure will. The plane is unmaintainable in my opinion. There is very little access to anything. As an example, the outflow valves are buried on the bottom of the rear cabin pressure vessel, and accessed from the tail compartment. The aileron control system has to be dismantled (control rods disconnected) in order to access and/or remove them... This will take lots of time, and leads to the potential for miss-rigging and control connection issues."

sparky said...

Ken,

I don't consider running from clouds "fully operational"

Stan Blankenship said...

Sparky,

That may be the blog's best "one liner" thus far!

gadfly said...

Sparky & Stan

Yes! . . . I'll add my vote!

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

According to the CWMOR Airplane Program Fault Isolation Guide, the correct fix for a failed program is to swap airplane company level LRU's from Brand-E to Brand-C, or Brand-D, or Brand-Em, or Brand-P, or go to OSH and pickup a high-fallutin' Experimental like the Epic, that is not pretending to be anything other than an Experimental.

Now THAT is some fancy troubleshooting.

Gunner said...

Stan-
I agree that Sparky's should get the Con-Eclipse award. I think we should also give a Pro-Eclipse counterpart, though.

For that, I vote:
"Eclipse was designed to be an air taxi where high cycles and low down time would be essentials."

It just don't get no better!
Gunner

sparky said...

All things considered, I think we've jumped the gun on this one.

We should at least let the E-boys get this bird in the air, with all it's associated parts operational(bushings, windscreens, pitot, GPS, DME, wheels & brakes...etc) before we discuss the problems related to keeping it that way.

But as long as we're here.....software updates are going to be a nightmare. I believe there's a MSB out right now for one of the Garmin systems.

As I understand it, Eclipse is going to be the main integration focal point. This is not good as it means that all the disperate systems manufacturers haven't actually agreed to work together, they're going to leave that up to Eclipse or whoever it as that was desperate enough to agree to it.

Took a good look at E's white paper. Makes a lot of assumptions about maintainability for a company who's test fleet was grounded, cracked and frozen.

Wouldn't bet my money on it.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Back to the matter at hand, acquisition costs for aircraft will typically be NO MORE than 50%, and are often closer to 30% of the total Lifecycle Cost of ownership, over the expected life of the system.

In other words, a $2.6M Mustang might be expected to cost between $5.2M to $8.6M over the entire life of the airframe to 'own and operate'.

This is true for well-designed and supported aircraft. Typically, civilian aircraft will be closer to 50%, where airliners and military aircraft are closer to 30%.

Based on everything that we have seen that has been PUBLICLY owned up to, the Eclipse is experiencing failures at rates that do not normally occur even for a new airframe.

This is because not only is it a new airframe, there are also many new systems, new software, new vendors - some with no previous aerospace experience (automotive), AND a new integrator (Eclipse itself).

For any new system or program an experienced company will predict what are called infant mortality failures, these are basically expected failures as the new system or program comes on line. Failures of a system or a compnent are typically distributed across what is called a 'bathtub' curve, so named because it has a steep decline from initial fielding into the basic lifecycle of the system, then a steep climb after the expected lifecycle.

In layman's terms, you expect to have a high number of failures initially due to system, components and procedures being tested out, then a low number of failures during the normal life of the system\component, and once the system meets it expected life, failures go up as things wear out.

The real challenge appears that Eclipse either did not, or does not comprehend this well. For evidence, see the premature announcement of operating costs per mile and the constant inflation of that number, originally $.40 something in 2000, then $.57, then $.69, then 'about $1, and now not being touted.

See also the announcement via the E5C last month that JetComplete, which is effectively the maintenance cost program for the airplane as a system, is being totally revamped including pricing and coverage.

This goes back to the 'order' book as many here, myself included, have pointed to. Cheap parts to make and then maintain the planes are DEPENDENT on high production volume. No production volume, no cheap parts.

If the production volume is not realized over the long term (year in and year out), the cost to buy the airplane will not be the only thing to go up, spares and replacement parts costs will also go up, probably way up, to help offset the higher than planned costs.

Add to this the excessive teething problems we are seeing due to poor vendor management (lighting, avionics, first engines, ECS, etc.), poor internal quality (if you accept the company explanations for the Window\Windshield, Wing Attach Bushing), and the inevitable challenges yet to come from trying to accelerate the production line, as well as those that will come from incorporation of the various mods already known, as well as those yet to be discovered, and the future may not be so bright in the 505.

These are things that smart people should have been working on at Eclipse years ago. This takes significant cross-communication between disciplines, real cooperation between various parts of the company, effective representation at the Executive level, and what we hear from insiders would indicate this may not have been the case.

Gunner said...

Sparky-
I think what causes all the skepticism is nothing less than Eclipse's insistence that the world play moron for them. They come out with these outlandish weekly Press Releases, and then get all pissy when we refuse to shut up and smile as though we've been lobotomized.

Absolutely no doubt that the systems integration is gonna be an absolute nightmare; a continuing one, for Eclipse, the Vendors and, most especially, the owners. Just imagine calling Microsft Tech Support and explaining that the Parallels Virtual PC software which you're running on your Dual Intel Processor Apple crashes the Linux Kernel every time you try to hook up your Ipod.

The answer from every one of the vendors will be that you have to remove everyone else's hardware and software. "They're" causing the problem.

I recently went thru the exact same process in my plane. I have a Garmin 530 that needs to be WAAS upgraded. While they're in there, I decided to install an MFD for charts, airports, traffic, XM Weather and Color Radar display.

I liked the Avidyne line a lot, but ended up going Garmin GMX, at a higher price, exactly because I didn't want to start dealing with the finger pointing if there's a problem or an upgrade. In the long run, I think the Garmin will be cheaper, as a result.

I think Vern agrees also. Last year he admitted "if I had to do all over again, I'd have gone Garmin". Then he promptly took the reverse route and actually fragmented the avionics even more than it was with Avidyne.
Gunner

sparky said...

I remember sitting on an aircraft at three in the morning, amongst a pile of wiring diagrams and manuals scratching my head in frustration as test after test verified that each individual piece was functioning as advertised, but the second it was all hooked together........

I guess Garmin was "too dinasaur" great idea.

Hey, didn't Uncle Vern promise a pitot fix a few weeks ago?

Ken, you know anything about that? How are we supposed to discuss how hard this thing is to fix, if they can't even build it?

anonymous avionics engineer said...

'These are things that smart people should have been working on at Eclipse years ago.' There are several smart people at eclipse, but they are mostly at the engineering level, answering idiodic questions for an inexperienced (aircraft wise) management team.

'This takes significant cross-communication between disciplines, real cooperation between various parts of the company, effective representation at the Executive level, and what we hear from insiders would indicate this may not have been the case.' Communication is ONLY permitted in accordance with the company PR line. Dissenting opinion holders will be targeted and eliminated from Eclipse. Citing reality and experience at other aircraft OEM's is considered cheating in managements eyes. Disagree with a manager or higher and you will be walked out the door as I was, simply for pointing out how a manager did not do their job and suggesting how to do it. Keeping e-mails and records is also frowned upon as recalling FACTS is not allowed.

WhyTech said...

Lets assume that the maitainability issues raised here are in the ballpark. Then assume that Eclipse builds airplanes somewhere near the projections they have been publishing (north of 500 aircraft per year). It will be interesting to model what the impact of this is on spares requirements, highly trained, highly paid and likely very scarce systems maintenence techs, and service center floor space. I havent run the numbers, but I am guessing that this scenario results in some long lines at the service centers, with lots of acft downtime just waiting for parts, labor hours, and floor space.

WT

Green-or-Red said...

I am not too sure if the "White Paper" is E-clips latest thinking. I have been told that the aircraft life is 20000 flights, 20000 flight hours, or 20 years, whichever occurs first. I have never heard of a planned life extension program.

Can anyone confirm this?

airtaximan said...

G or R,

Interesting.

Care to explain how they began with these criteria which lasted at least until 2004, and ended up with a plane that is dramatically more durable/maintainable than the design criteria?

This certainly would explain all the missing functionality, cracks and NGs...

In all seriousness, perhaps their world class quality management system should include a provision for updating their website with the most recent thinking on maintainability and durability.

;)

PS. 20,000 years seems like a bit of a stetch for a comany that asked for a waiver from the FAA so they don't have to do fatigue testing...

Green-or-Red said...

AT
Fatigue test is scheduled to start late May or June from what I hear. The fatigue test has always been planned.

I do not think they got a waiver from doing the fatigue test. I think it was placed on the back burner because of the extensive analysis accomplished.

And, I never said 20000 years!

FlightCenter said...

Eclipse has selected 13 avionics vendors to provide the Avio NG flight deck.

The vendors are
1) Innovative Solutions & Support, Inc.,
2) Chelton Flight Systems,
3) Garmin International,
4) Honeywell,
5) FreeFlight Systems,
6) Crossbow Technology,
7) Harco Laboratories,
8) Meggitt Avionics,
9) Autronics,
10) Hispano-Suiza
11) PS Engineering, Inc.
12) Heads-Up Technologies,
13) Strategic Aeronautics.

IS&S will provide the PFD and MFD displays and the software included with them. Chelton is producing the flight management system, Garmin is supplying the transponders, Honeywell is supplying the communication and navigation radios, Free Flight Systems the GPS, Crossbow is providing the AHRS, Harco Laboratories is providing the air data computer and probes, Meggitt is supplying several components including the autopilot, Hispana-Suiza the FADEC, and PS Engineering is providing the audio system, Heads-Up Technologies supplies the XM datalink reciever and Strategic Aeronautics is providing the Avio Flight Bag and is also working on the FMS.

Here is some interesting reading from ANN regarding Crossbow and Chelton working together. It should raise some concerns.

Urgent Direct-To Avionics Issues Recall On All Crossbow 425EX AHRS

You may recall that Direct 2 Avionics went out of business late last year as a result of trying to get Crossbow and Chelton to work together to solve the reliability problems with the Crossbow AHRS.



Attached below is a link to Eclipse's vendor website for your reference.

We've partnered with the best to bring you the best.

FlightCenter said...

Of course you shouldn't forget that Eclipse is also one of the major contributors of avionics technology for the AVIO NG and the defacto systems integrator for the program.

It is widely known in the industry that Vern is rather proud of the fact that Eclipse has 80 avionics software engineers on staff.

You have to ask yourself, "Why is an aircraft manufacturer putting this level of resource into developing its own line of avionics?"


It worked out so well for Cessna and ARC.

anonymous avionics engineer said...

I have worked with both Crossbow and Chelton. Be concerned. Neither of them have very good reputations.

anonymous avionics engineer said...

Several of the software Engineers are developing a replacement for the Honeywell Radar system. The central computer software was pulled from Autronics when the VP from Autronics told the Director of Engineering at Eclipse that he (the Eclipse director) was the problem with the avionics. Everyone on the 2nd floor of Eclipse HQ heard this.

flyger said...

FlightCenter said...

Chelton is producing the flight management system


What does that mean precisely? Most everything on the list is tangile boxes that do something and speak on some interface. I don't know what it means to supply what appears to be "software". Is Chelton responsible for inserting that code into someone else's box? Or do they just send a binary executable that someone else just dumps in their box? The FMS system would have so many interfaces that I'm not sure who is responsible for the final integration.

So what is Chelton supplying? What is the custody interface for this relationship?

flyger said...

Seems to have been considerable updating of the FAA registry today. Many Eclipse are now registered to owners.

Oddly, there are some which have been registered to owners but have no normal CofA listed. Usually that shows on the registry first.

In any case, registry inconsistencies seem to be just paperwork issues and not anything else.

Gunner said...

Flyger-
I don't know that you'd call it "considerable" or "paperwork issues". You need to dig a bit for an accurate picture. Each of the following Registration and/or Airworthiness Certs were issued on 9 May 2007:

Eclipse:
- SN 2, 6, 7 are now registered to DayJet Leasing in Delray, FL. They were previously certified (and announced as "delivered"). DayJet Leasing was formed in Oct 2006

- SN 4, 5 & 12 are now registered to SPJ Aircraft, Gen Cor and Tim Solms, respectively. None show an Air Worthiness Cert issued. I agree this is strange.

- SN 9 & 11 were registered to Dlorah and VK Inc, respectively. Both AirWorth certs continue to show Experimental category.


Now, let's compare to Mustang's activity for May 9th:
- SN 6, which had received it's STD AW Cert on 3/25, is now registered to MUK Avation

- SN 9, which was cert'd as "Experimental" is now cert'd Standard and registered to Don Smith.

Both these transactions are exactly as we would expect. So, if the FAA was screwing up records again, it appears to be have done so selectively to Eclipse (again). Kinda strange, isn't it?

Bottom line:
Congrats to Cessna for, according to FAA records, delivering two Standard, fully certified aircraft.

Congrats to Eclipse for delivering two aircraft which, according to FAA records, are not currently airworthy and two others which, according to FAA records, are currently Experimental.

Looks to me like all the claims of FAA update lags are a lot of hot air. Each of these Registration Certifications are dated May 9th, 2007; each appeared on the database May 10th.

Gunner

airtaximan said...

G or R:

Sorry about the 20,000 years...perhaps a "freudian slip -type error on my part, sorta...

Pretty funny...

Well, I saw a waiver somewhere, I'll have to dig it up... but I'm not sure - I would not bet Ken $10k on this one...just what I thought I saw...

To the same point, though...why skimp (if you could call it that) on a fatigue test, if reliability/durability was a major design driver. You would think this would be something you would not push off until its...well...perhaps to late to have a real affect on the design. This especially true with the extra few years waiting for the replacement engines, and the pile of cash that's been spent.

Just my opinion, I'm sure there's better examples.

airtaximan said...

Gunner,

I'm a little lost...can you explain further what you are saying regarding the FAA registry, and the delivery, CofA, etc.. issues.

Say what you suspect is going on, or what you see here.

Thanks

Gunner said...

AT-
I'm not prepared to conclude much of anything yet. We do know that the Faithful keep claiming deliveries and blaming FAA for not updating its database. But it would appear the database IS updated promptly.

Nor do I believe for a minute that the FAA changes the actual Registration Dates when it enters them into the system. The dates are what is shown on the actual Reistrations. All of these dates show May 9th (Eclipse AND Mustang).

Remember the flap on two of the three DayJet planes? There were rumors here and in the mainstream press that they received Provisional CoA's. The FAA DB was not updated on them for weeks, and when it was the CoA's were normal.

I'd need to have someone more knowledgeable than I answer the question: What is the date shown on a Normal CoA when it flows out of a Provisional CoA. Is the "Date of Issue" the date of the Normal CoA or the previous Provisional CoA? If the Normal CoA is dated back to the Provisional CoA, it might explain how we're seeing these things show up weeks after the fact; and ownership changes show up with no CoA at all.

In short, perhaps the DayJet planes really did get only a Provisional Certification up front. I doubt that were the case, but it would certainly seem to fit the facts better than "The FAA keeps screwing up our paperwork. Just ours."

Gunner

EclipseOwner387 said...

Gunner,

I bought my Cirrus SR20 (N927PP) in Mid December 2005. We sent our Registration paperwork in ASAP to FAA. Take a peek at my FAA record for that airplane. It shows my registration certification taking place TWO months later. Another example would be my N4421R. I closed on that aircraft on 7/7/2005. That record shows a more reasonable 12 day lag. However, I OWNED THEM AND HAD DELIVERY well before either of those dates. Could it be that USED planes are handled differently? I guess so, but in my case it does not reflect the transfer of ownership date on the Registration Cert line in the FAA record. It appears to be the date that the FAA approved the new permanent registration of the aircraft - even though I had title well before.

Stan Blankenship said...

The delay on the fatigue testing may not be an issue.

If the static test article was well covered with strain gages and if during the static tests the recorded stress levels were reasonably low, Eclipse could make a legitimate case to the FAA to establish some minimum life limit to get the program going.

If this were the case, it would not provide 100% certainty that some obscure area (like the windshield) would not have a problem. But components like spar caps, critical fittings and stressed skins could easily enough be written off.

EclipseOwner387 said...

Gunner,

Another good example my N921GG was bought in late June 2006 but my reg cert was not issued until 9/13/2006!!

I am going to go on record that when the smoke clears that this argument has gone barking up the wrong tree and in retrospect a waste of time.

Gunner said...

EO-
Good info; thanks much. As I said, I'm not at all willing to conclude anything just yet. But the apparent FAA inefficiency on certain items and for certain companies has been alluded to repeatedly by The Faithful. I'm just trying to make sense of it, in light of the records.

You're right that paperwork, done on used aircraft and sent in by mail can lag. I've had the same experience. But it's been my experience that the Reg Date on the FAA database matches the Reg Date on the actual Registration Certificate, regardless of when we take possession of the aircraft or change an N-Number. If I recall, we use a special form (or the actual application) as a Temporary Registration, no?

I'd have to believe that New Aircraft Registrations by manufacturers is a bit more streamlined, what with the FAA on site and PC on the wall, but I could well be wrong.

Additionally, in this case, the issue appears to be the CoA dates, not just the Registration dates. That's why I'm hoping someone who better knows the system can clarify.
Gunner

EclipseOwner387 said...

Gunner,

Yes, we use the form as a temporary registration as we wait for the one in the mail. In two of my cases I was hounding the FAA because I was not lehgal to fly. They said it would happen in due course.

I agree that Cessna may have a streamlined system with all the volume and history with the FAA. Maybe the FAA is on the take with Cessna to get them out so fast. (Just kidding.)

Anyway I agree that the COA is truly the important date and those appear to match the date of issue, not the process date when it is finally updated.

We will see.

Gunner said...

ps to EO:

let me try to restate that to make the issue a bit more clear. I do understand that when a transfer is sent in, the FAA stamps it when it gets to it and enters that date in the database.

But what's strange here, is that we're arguing that CoA's are being signed and issued, but not entered into the FAA database for weeks after the fact. I think that's the issue that needs to be clarified by someone in the know.

Gunner

EclipseOwner387 said...

I think we would all agree Pilatus is a good aircraft company right?

Take a look at these two records in the FAA database.

N35WA - The registration date is 1 day BEFORE A/W date (odd don't you think?)

N757ED - Even stranger yet, this one is said to be valid and has a reg cert date and NO A/W date at all!! Nada!

The FAA database is subject to and prone to errors don't you think? Again I atest this is barking up the wrong tree and I think playing shelock holmes here will probably lead no where.

On the brighter side, I recieved my training package on Email today so things are going to start to happen now for me. (Not that I will be training - but my pilots will start studying.)

Gunner said...

EO-
Agreed. That's enlightening. Did you find those with a random search of N-Numbers or were you aware of them from a different source?

This is why, I think, it's important for someone in the know to clue us in as to the strengths and weaknesses of the FAA database and workflow. BTW, I don't think it's at all amateur-sleuth time when we try to make sense of The Fathfuls' claims of FAA inefficiencies.

It goes without saying that they would rather we rely on Eclipse rumor than FAA data and, for some reason, I'm a bit uncomfortable with that. Next thing you know, they're counting a "delivery" when the rumor hits and, again, when the CoA is published and a third time when the Registration updates. In fact, I think that's how Vern came up with 2,500 orders! :-D

Congrats on the training materials. I know you're taking on a professional pilot to bring you up to speed and I give you high marks for that decision...I suspect it won't take you long at all. But why are you not also going into training on the Jet?
Gunner

airtaximan said...

EO,

Ya know... when you say:

"I am going to go on record that when the smoke clears that this argument has gone barking up the wrong tree and in retrospect a waste of time."

All I can say is I agree 100%, man.
You are dead nuts on...this ain't no issue. Giver up...move along.

You are RIGHT.

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

AT-
I agree that it's not much of an issue but I didn't bring the subject up. I was responding to flyger's claims that the FAA was catching up today. I'm simply pointing out that Cessna does not appear to be experiencing the same database problems as Eclipse.

EO has demonstrated the same problem with Pilatus and that's good enough for me. But I'd still like to know if we can depend on the FAA DB for anything. If not, we really can't rationally discuss any Eclipse deliveries in future, as we're doing right now; some will refuse to believe the FAA and others will refuse to believe Eclipse.
Gunner

mouse said...

Niner Zulu,

You forgot, you can't start your engines anyway because the FBO is closed and their Ground Power Unit is locked up tight. No cold starts without a power cart! Squeak

FlightCenter said...

Flyger is right to raise concerns about what it means when Eclipse states that Chelton is supplying the FMS.

As I understand it, Chelton is not supplying hardware for the Eclipse 500, but only the software for the FMS.

That means that the FMS software will have to run on another piece of hardware (or perhaps more than one piece of hardware). The IS&S displays being the most likely suspect.

If you continue down this path, that means that the FMS software that was originally written for Chelton hardware will need to be ported to someone else's hardware.

Who is going to do that porting? Chelton? IS&S? or Eclipse themselves with their 80 software engineers?

In all liklihood that means that two or more companies will have to be involved in every release and certification the FMS.

But it will probably be many more vendors involved. The FMS needs to interface to many parts of the Avio system, including the displays, GPS, radios, AHRS, Air Data, and the Avio Processing Center (APC) made by Autronics.

Who will be responsible for securing the certification approval for the FMS from the FAA? The FAA issues TSOs for physical devices or TCs for the aircraft as a whole. That means that the company responsible for securing the certification approval for the FMS is unlikely to be Chelton.

On top of this, the Avio user interface is substantially different than the Chelton user interface, so there will have to be significant changes made to the code to enable the FMS to work according to the Avio user interface specifications.

So claims that the Chelton FMS is proven and certified (made on this forum back in April), may be true for the base technology used in Chelton's FMS running on Chelton's hardware and interfacing to Chelton's supported sensor suites, but it just isn't true for Avio NG.

The Avio NG FMS will be a new product designed specifically for the Eclipse 500.

The level of risk, energy and coordination required to successfully achieve this objective should not be underestimated.

airtaximan said...

Gunner,
"some will refuse to believe the FAA and others will refuse to believe Eclipse"

so true.

I'm sure e-clips will take solice in the fact that there's no reliable timely source to verify their (or Ken's) claims regarding number of "deliveries".

Once again, I believed they have redefined the word "deliveries" as it is customarily used in aviation.

I heard a rumor that the FADEC is really not a FADEC, but its integrated into the AVIO system. I know Hispano-Suiza is the FADEC supplier, but I think they may just be providing the "software" part of the integrated engine control system which is a part of AVIO...in other words, there's no seperate conventional FADEC box.

This creates a whole new level of "integration" and all the associated "benefits" that comes along with this... if true.

Anyone know?

airtaximan said...

http://www.eclipseaviation.com/index.php?option=com_newsroom&task=viewpr&Itemid=348&id=509

apparently, all these guys have been involved since 2004 - the real surprise to me is the recent announcement of Avio-NG when Avidyne was replaced..so they claim they;ve been working on this much longer than anyone knew.

Probably so.. since most of them were working on it in 2004... so it is amazing to be that they come to the finish line, and they suddenly realize they can't get the system to work.

Something seems amiss...

mirage00 said...

Avio NG Update

Let the bashing begin....

Ken Meyer said...

Regrettably, Eclipse detractors will say anything to denigrate the company whether there is much reason to believe it could be true or not. The ability to defame is all that matters.

Take this latest witticism from Air Taximan:

"I know Hispano-Suiza is the FADEC supplier, but I think they may just be providing the "software" part of the integrated engine control system which is a part of AVIO"

A picture is worth a thousand words. Behold AT's "software" FADEC:

Hispano-Suiza FADEC

Ken

airtaximan said...

Ken:

Except for your mischaracterization, it was obvious I said "I heard, I don't know, is this true?"

You are defensive and tricky as hell for a guy buying two jets, Ken.

Anyhow, thanks for clearing up the issue, and nice picture of the FADEC though. You seem pretty handy with that camera. Do you have one or two cameras?

Question: IS HS developing it with PW and Pratt reselling it as part of the engine package (normal, vanilla aviation approach) or have they developed this as part of AVIO on the e-clips side (revolutionary, chocolate covered with whipped cream and strawberries approach)?

Beautiful new screens reveleaed in the PR on AVIO-NG progress today. The development program for your avionics looks like its coming along nicely.

Again, thanks for the FADEC family snapshot!

ATman

Algernon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
EclipseBlogger said...

Some great pictures of the AVIVA factory tour.

http://tinyurl.com/2dpyzy

airtaximan said...

EB,

these are really cool pictures!

looks like a lot of planes in the works!

Its going to be really nice in a few months when all the NGs and mods and fixes and normal inspection periods come on line...

I can't help but think they should have waited a bit and delivered a "completed" product. It seems like they are sending a bad meassage despite all the hard work and progress.

Great to see all these planes being made...

We should soon see 30-40 planes flying around, right?

Thanks

Gunner said...

Great pics, EB. Paint scheme is Da Bomb....honestly.

How come no images of the cockpit avionics panel? That's, after all, the soul of the aircraft.
Gunner

mirage00 said...

Looks like all the photos have been touched up using Photoshop. This looks like the Cessna facility. :)

Thanks for the photos EB!

Let the bashing begin...

anonymous avionics engineer said...

The FADEC is a card (actually 2 redundant cards) designed and programmed by Hispano-Suiza. Whether they actually manufacture the cards or not is a moot point as it doesn't affect the responsibility or integration. These cards are co-located within the 'ACS' or the central computer for the aircraft, of which there are two, one per side. The FADECs are cross wired (i.e. #1 ACS contains #1A FADEC and #2B FADEC). This does mitigate some risk (single point failures), it's a good design idea.

Ken Meyer said...

AT wrote,
"Except for your mischaracterization, it was obvious I said 'I heard, I don't know, is this true?'"

OK, AT; a thousand apologies.

Ken

Stan Blankenship said...

mirage,

There is no confusing the Eclipse facility with the Mustang's.

Cessna builds the Mustang, delivers them and they gallop off into the sunset, at FL 410 as advertised.

Out of the first dozen Eclipse deliveries, 10(83%)were present and accounted for in the photographs taken at the ABQ facility 04-01-07.

And I would ask if you believe the Eclipse version of the NG progress or the characterization set forth in the Tangled Web post?

mouse said...

I can only count 15 bodies in the most populated photo. Pretty lean manufacturing facility I see.

mirage00 said...

Stan...

Cessna builds the Mustang, delivers them and they gallop off into the sunset, at FL 410 as advertised.

Doesn’t Eclipse build and deliver airplanes?

You seem to get so defensive when you see Eclipse manufacturing and delivering airplanes. I just don’t get it. Hmmm or maybe I do. Oh well...

As I said, let the bashing begin.

EclipseBlogger said...

mouse said... I can only count 15 bodies in the most populated photo. Pretty lean manufacturing facility I see.

Yes, you are quite correct. All of the aircraft on the factory floor are assembled by elves in the wee hours. Typical post mouse. If YOU don't see it, or haven't been told about it, it never happened, and therefore can't be true.

airtaximan said...

Mirage:

Funny how the older aerospace guys like to see the product actually finished and performing as advertised!

Hey, did you catch Stan's comment:

"Out of the first dozen Eclipse deliveries, 10(83%)were present and accounted for in the photographs taken at the ABQ facility 04-01-07."

At first, I thought he was saying there's a conspiracy, that the only the 10 or so planes produced already in the photos, as if there were no more! In reality, he was suggesting that it was peculiar for almost all the delivered planes, some months ago, to still BE IN ABQ!

Sorry, I know yu'll say this is bashing, but seriously, you must admit, most folks who take delivery actually get to fly their planes home!

Bonanza Pilot said...

"Doesn’t Eclipse build and deliver airplanes?"

hmmm..Mirage that is a great question. I guess it depends on what your definition of "is" is.....they do build planes, but as of yet it is not clear that they are delivered in the way a normal person would view delivered. If I were to take delivery of my Eclipse (or any plane) I would expect you would start to see a bunch of personal and business flights - things that are tracked on Flight Aware etc. If it was a brand new type I would probably post some bragging photos, and tell you how great it was to fly. With Eclipse I have been able to track one of the Dayjet aircraft that is in Florida now doing training flights and that is it. We can play games with words, and make statements like "well you don't have concrete proof do you" but I think people are wondering where all these delivered Eclipses are. Shouldn't we be seeing them at our local airports....seeing them on Flight aware..have stories about hearing one on the radio etc??

I do still think that Eclipse will get their IOU's done eventually and start a more traditional delivery process. Things will get much more transparent at that point. Then we get to what I see as the real issue. How many orders are there at the current price, and is the current price sustainable. We "almost" have a plane...now the question is do we have a business. I think the price will be well over 2 million bucks before real volume delivery occurs.

gadfly said...

The discussion about the aircraft still being in Albuquerque can be easily illustrated with the GEICO TV ads. The victims/customers are represented by “professional actors” . . . 'takes the responsibility away from the driver. The “professional” actor/announcer can explain the experience much better.

But if the famous aircraft company starts telling us that they are so simple a “caveman” can do it . . . “Houston, we have a problem!”

gadfly

(‘Sorry . . . ‘just couldn’t resist sharing the obvious.)

mouse said...

EB, I had 18 people working for me when we built the first airplane, and they were all working the floor so we could roll the plane out. I guess it must be break time and they're out sucking up the profits from the drink cooler.

EclipseBlogger said...

Come on mouse (perfect handle),

If we assume these are pictures of real assemblies, then someone had to have built them. Many of the pictures are of a single assembly in the frame. The workers probably had the courtesy to step out of the way for a moment.

On the other hand, Vern could have hired George Lucas and the Industrial Light and Magic Studio to make all of the assemblies using the vast Eclipse computer power and green-screens to generate CGI models of the aircraft. This is probably a more reasonable explanation, and is also probably a much easier concept for you to grasp.

Gunner said...

126DJ is returning from LAL to BCT. Last night I tracked it as it passed over my house, but was about 5 miles inland, so I never got a visual on it.

I know these are training flights for the future pilots, but certainly the instructors are RVSM rated. And we know from Ken that EA500 126DJ is certified for RVSM flight.

You'd think Ed would want to see how these babies perform at altitude; still, not a single flight has gone above FL27. I could have sworn that's what The Faithful laughed about in the case of other jets coming to market.

Must absolutely kill Ed and Vern, knowing they can easily put this bird thru its paces at 41K Feet, for all the world to track, but being so busy with other things and all, they just haven't found the time.
Gunner

sparky said...

N600DE at FL400, 320KTS

cherokee driver said...

Now that Eclipse has received its PC and is fully FAA “approved”, and after seeing the pretty pictures from EB, I only see one more obstacle in their way. We can forget about wing bushings, windshields and avionics. It’s obvious the FAA won’t stand in their way. Their only concern now will be ramp space!

I’ve never been to ABQ but I would assume they have some ramp space available. We have been assured by the faithful that Eclipse has more than enough employees and production capacity to produce 1000 tiny jets a year. They don’t actually take up a whole lot of room, but at that production rate they will probably run out of space pretty quickly. Where are they going to put all those airplanes?

I’m also pretty sure there will be some owners who don’t want their prize sitting out in the sun, baking away. They are going to need some hangers. Do you think the airport management can get hangers built fast enough to keep up with production? Do you think New Mexico taxpayers are willing to ante up the cash to keep the owners happy? Maybe the FAA already has funds available to head off the problem or is that why they need user fees?

We have already seen that Eclipse is serious about producing thousands of airplanes. The FAA is serious about enabling Eclipse. The position holders are serious about taking "delivery". Now we just need to concern ourselves with the logistics.

RedTailHawk said...

sparky said...
N600DE at FL400, 320KTS

N600DE went to FL360, not FL400. The data points at FL400 are common reporting errors. The flight was conducted with a 30 knot tailwind which would give a true airspeed of 290-300 knots.

WhyTech said...

niner zulu said:

"The Avio NG sounds like it is going to be a freakin' nightmare. Thirteen (????) vendors supplying hardware and/or software components? "

The issue here is not so much the number of suppliers; 13 wouldnt be unusal in a more conventional acft. The larger issue is the level of intergration required among these suppliers. A "freakin nightmare" indeed!

WT

Gunner said...

RedTail-

Do tell. This was a flight from Jeffco to Ogden Hinckley. Last I checked, that's heading westbound. And, unless the winds up at FL360 have taken a 180 degree turnabout since the flight was conducted, it appears the Mustang was flying with a 25+ knot HEAD wind.

Wanna lay that New Math on us again? ;-)

Gunner

mouse said...

EB, either you are silly or dense. The point of my comment is there is not much action going on. As far as the eye can see, you could fire a cannon through the production floor and not hit 1 of 1200 employees. Most of the planes in the photos are already "delivered"? To crank out 1, 2 or 3 a day you need a lot of bodies assembling the parts, which is clearily not shown in the photos. The daylight outside gives clue that this is the middle of the day. What is holding up production? All talk and no action is all that the photographs support.

Gunner said...

mouse said:
"The daylight outside gives clue that this is the middle of the day."

Making stuff up again, Mouse? Where's your proof that it's not 11:57 AM or 6:02 PM? I see no compass in the pictures; I see no Sun. Where's your PROOF that it's the middle of the day. Huh, Huh?

Your entire point is now to be totally disregarded by The Faithful until such time as we see your outlandish claims verified by and E5C report or Eclipse Press Release. ;-)
Gunner

airtaximan said...

mouse said:
"The daylight outside gives clue that this is the middle of the day."

man are you ever in the dark, mouse...

Don;t you know this is the E-clips Arctic Circle facility, where its daylight 24/7 nowadays? Shheeesh...

Anyways, these plane HAVE been built, just like EB says...there's no doubt. My question would be, why are they not finished, or why are there not more people woking on them, NOW?

Answer: ask Plastic_planes...these planes are probably stuck...no parts...nothing to do on them, really.

Here's how I know: 1200 employees (total, I know...but they do all get counted) most since Sept 2006 timeframe...57 planes in production, most since Sept 2006 timeframe...sooo? Why not more than 10-15 COMPLETED?

Answer, no parts...why?

Your guess is as good as mine...but 200 folks less Dayjet have placed their $900k down right? Where's the money if not in the parts, systems, and sub assemblies?

If I were number 50, I'd be fuming...

Algernon said...

Why is there no one around ?

Why ask the engineers, mechanics, team leaders, etc.

Where are the former HR people ? Or the ones that want to comment here, like the other EAC employees, like ken, mirage, et al.

there AREN'T 1200 people there. It's all BS, just like everything else that spews forth from the filthy sewers of ABQ. Lies from the top down, manipulation, crooked beauracrats and other slimy government officials is simply the status quo.

The numbers will NEVER work, and it makes me ill to see some here posturing about saying " oh we only want good things to happen to eclipse"

please, I had mac and cheese for supper. Don't make me hurl. It won't be pretty.

DaveOrtiz said...

There are not 1200 people there. Most have left town, after we ran them thru the mill. workin our asses day and night. Pay ain;'t good enough for that kind of abuse.

Me, sharkey, jim, we are all at our wit's end. Wifes screamin at us not to quit, we need the jobs, can't move off no one will help pay to move, it sux bad. But, it's a real s***hole around here, and at DE2. Vern is such an idiot. Orders from the top change daily, and the ones above us just smirk at us and say well you don;t have to like it.

I'm abut read yu to go to the feds, but this ohter guy is right the feds are in the bosses pocket or something. I hope they fire me, I don't care any longer. we need the help, but they can't hire anybody, cause no one wants to come here after all that quit and told everybody else.

Gunner said...

algernon:
I think when we say, "we only want good things to happen to eclipse" we mean that we want the company's management, culture, image and goals to stand up and take a place among aviation's proudest heritage. Try with your heart, yet fail, and we'll erect tributes to you; Try with your heart and show signs of success and we'll support you and pray for your success.

Try with your ego and pocketbook, while condescending to the rest of us and attacking for every blemish we note...and, well, we can only hope you see the error of your ways and understand how unimportant your ego is to each of us. Short of that, yes, we prefer your failure.

I think many of us would love to own the aircraft promised by Eclipse. But we've been up there when ice is building, weather deteriorating, avionics failing the only thing between our families and tragedy is a cool mind, a printed protocol and trust in the aluminum tube that whose manufacture specifications and limits we memorized.

This industry has no place for hype, pomp, DotCom Ponzi Schemes or Vern Raburn's "software giant" BS. We've been there and seen the results and we DO NOT want that business style bleeding over into aircraft manufacture.

When we express best wishes for Eclipse, I think it's wishes that the Management and Sales Department will stop for ONE DAY and visit the floor with an open ear. Because the people down there understand what this industry is about; it's not about software sales; and it's certainly not about personal hubris.
Gunner

airtaximan said...

couple of things:

1- I certainly appreciate the level of frustration expressed by shop floor workers, here. I wonder if any insight can be offered about the real number of direct assembly employees? I've operated under the assumption that e-clips would not want to exaggerate the number of employees, because it makes them look stupid from two perspectives: they cannot get any real number of planes delivered despite having 1200 (total, not just assemblers, but total...who cares?) workers; and their burn rate's gotta be huge -why bloat the number? WHo knows???

SO WHERE ARE THE PLANES? - I never imagined they had way less employees building planes than they stated - true? How many?

THE HYPE MACHINE IS SOON GOING INTO FULL SWING...

- Dayjet sent thousands and thousands of invitations to a roll out of the plane at their Boca Raton facility in a few weeks. A couple of folks I know received these, and they swear they have never registered with Dayjet or e-clips, and they have no interest in going. ONe is in aviation, and the other owns a nice car - the only possible link to Dayjet. I guess they emailed many, many invitations to many many folks.

Its gotta be tough revolutionizing the world of aviation and not having enough interest from related parties to create a crowd at a n event such as this... They have sent out many thousands of invitations, I'm sure. I would think they would have all 500 or so of their crproate membershp customers there? This could be sufficient, no? BOth my buddies say they will not go... I wonder how many actually show??? BIG effort. The invitation even refers to recent general media hype about the plane..."come see the revolutionary air taxi plane..." pretty SAD..

- rumor has it they've asked Dan Rather to do a story on them, too. This should be fun to watch - anyone know if its 60 minutes? I hope ol'Dan asks some harsh questions....but I doubt it. Perhaps we should email him with some suggestions? Any ideas?

ATMan conclusions: the hype is just beginning. E-clips is still not cranking out planes enough to make good on their 400 delivery promises this year. Revision by around 60% will come soon, as wellas a demand for the first 1000 60% progress payments thorugh 2008. Easy money. Rather will do a cream puff piece, and he will not fly in the e-clips...but the hype willinduce vomiting and the need for e-clips air sick bags. Finally 1,000 people will reportedly show for the Dayjet rollout. What no one will know is, 700,000 invitations were sent out to achieve this number.

One last item on my airtaxibrain this PM:
- Anyone hear of extraordinary condensation issues with the e-plain? I'm hearing that Dayjet cannot get 135 cert for the e-500 due to this. Perhaps just another rumor? Perhaps normal teething? Perhaps result of poor design? Perhaps the Pito problem mischaracterized? Or perhaps a problem resulting from poor design pricipals, and the reason for FIKI lag?

I do not know (Ken) whether this is true, or what the impact is? I would not bet Ken $10k on this...or $5 for that matter, which I guess is a good thing - he's never followed up wth a wager, ever.

OK, 'bye.

EclipseOwner387 said...

ATMAN,

I think the best thing DayJet could do is not do any marketing at all. Just sit back and wait for the phone to ring when they get the planes. Who ever heard of marketing a service or product ever working? I mean why would anyone pay to do TV ads? Especially during the Super Bowl - HUGE cash. How sad to waste folks time like that.

I was told once that a 2% response to a mailer was considered good by an IBM marketing expert. So doesn't really surprise me that friends of yours would not have any interest.

You just try to piss in any pot you see huh? Are you a marketing expert now? You do realize that DayJet is not selling to PILOTS? They are trying to sell to business folks and the well off that want to have convenient point-to-point transport. Not saying DayJet is going to work but don't you think mass marketing to affluent folks was a reasonable effort for DayJet to take??

This is a typical EAC post. No substance. Some are good but that was bad.

mouse said...

Gunner, does it really matter if it's "11:57 AM or 6:02 PM", or any time at all? Eclipse is supposed to be a 24/7 operation. The sun was shining so it must be between 6:30 am to 7:30 pm. ANyway you slice it it's normal working hours, and nobody is working much. The count of 50+ planes in build is including 25+ airplane s/n in the stirfry shop, and not in assembly or build-up areas yet.

I'm sure you and 99% of the people on this site are not morons, or blind, so can you be honest with the rest of the group here and tell us you're not disappointed in the lack of progress demonstrated?

I do not benefit or lose if Eclipse succeeds, fails, or flounders. I have several good friends who I hired, and are still working at Eclipse and hope for their sakes and the depositors that the plane succeeds. In fact for the sake of all VLJ manufacturers, we all hope Eclipse succeeds, because if they fail it burdens the rest of us, and when/if they succeed, we all succeed.

Getting pissed because you don't like to hear what you want, while believing everything you hear from Vern, blindly is just plain goofy. Forget what you read here, and what the PR pumpers are spewing and use your own eyes... What do you see? If you see that everything is rosey, put up your 60% and shut up. Otherwise, just admit that you are not honest enough to admit that what you see does not jive with what your hear, save your money, and pay up when you are satisfied you are going to get what you want, and what you are paying for.

Gunner said...

mouse-
My post to you was tongue-in-cheek.

Story of my life: When I'm kidding, people think I'm serious and when I'm serious, people think I'm kidding. ;-)
Gunner

Another_ex-eac said...

I've gotta say that the number of gripers here are griping for griping's sake. I was an ex employee at the farm. I left because I just didn't like Albuquerque. It's dry, it's hot, and it's hard to spell. The pressure on the floor was extreme at times and the hours were long. Both made the perfect environment for some frustration and short tempers. But I have to say that the tales of life on the floor were nothing like those described here. There are labor laws, and such alleged abusive treatment from management would certainly warrant filing a complaint with the State and Local Labor Boards. Many of those that left, and complain here, were guys that just couldn't handle the requirements of the job, didn't have the skill set, didn't like being away from their family life, and didn't like the long hours. This is their only outlet to get back at the company - and in a pretty cowardly fashion I might add. In many cases it wasn't the company's failure, it was the employee's, and here is where they flock. ATM, you found the grievance filed with the FAA by the test pilots - what about labor violations? If you can find any, I bet you find they were investigated and found to be unwarranted.

airtaximan said...

EO,

sorry you see my post that way...
I don't think they should do nothing, but I do think it should be a little easier for them to create a crowd for the rollout of their equipment and not need to email invitations to thousands and thousands of people.

What caught my attention on all this is that these two guys called me and they were laughing, becasue they had no reason to receive the invitations...none. And, there's no way they would go.

So, naw, I hate marketing, but the 2% success for direct mail is way high if you just blast emails to practically everyone.

-perhaps they will not be happy with the 500-800 Dayjet members plus the family and friends? Perhaps they know from expereince such as their events at some Dayports (maybe the folks were looking for Dayports, instead of airports and they got lost?) and the turn out was lousy. I recall on report that a handfull of folks showed, and they were mostly private pilots. I guess they need it to look like there is some interest, and hey, if blasting everyone within 1500 miles of their office is the way to do it...I guess that's what it takes.

You hear anything about a condensation problem with the
plane?

Have a nice weekend.

airtaximan said...

another-x-eac,

what you write makes sense to me, and if there are 1200 or so folks working there, there are bound to be some issues. I have no clue, I did not work there...

When you say I found the Grievance... this is not true. No problem, just not me.

Ken Meyer said...

Another Ex-EAC wrote,

" Many of those that left, and complain here, were guys that just couldn't handle the requirements of the job, didn't have the skill set, didn't like being away from their family life, and didn't like the long hours. This is their only outlet to get back at the company - and in a pretty cowardly fashion I might add. In many cases it wasn't the company's failure, it was the employee's, and here is where they flock."

Yes, that pretty much sums it up. Nice job.

Then factor in a couple of guys who got mad at Eclipse because the company wouldn't guarantee them a specific serial number or cave in to some other purchasing contract demand they made.

Add a handful of ex-suppliers and a bunch of old-guard aviation types who are offended that a new start-up company came along and thumbed its nose at the old guard.

What a potpourri the place has attracted! Definitely the place to go if what you want is to attack the revolutionary little plane and the company behind it.

Ken

Gunner said...

Yawn.

gadfly said...

Without further comment ( http://www.flttechonline.com/News/Trends.htm ):

"PMI-Media, a German-based consulting company, has lowered its estimated deliveries of VLJs (very light jets) by nearly one-half for this year (from 205 to 125), because of Eclipse Aviation's production difficulties. (The FAA estimates 350 this year.) The report shows an order backlog of more than 4,000 VLJs from 14 different aircraft manufacturers, of which the Eclipse 500 alone accounts for more than half. The consultancy now speculates that if Eclipse can't solve its problems in a reasonable time, some of its orders may shift to other, more experienced airframers. The full report is available for purchase from PMI-Media. 04-23-2007."

FlightCenter said...

AAE said,

"Several of the software Engineers are developing a replacement for the Honeywell Radar system."

I was a bit surprised that no one followed up on this comment. If this was previously discussed, then I may have missed it.

This is a pretty major revelation which has some major implications.

Avionics Vendor Implications
1) Eclipse is becoming an avionics producer.
2) Eclipse is going to be making a product which will compete with products from Honeywell and Garmin, two of its Avio NG suppliers.
3) Avionics vendors have developed very close relationships with their largest customers who are focused only on building airplanes. They will have a very different relationship with a company that has demonstrated a willingness to develop competitive products.
4) The quote says that several Eclipse “software Engineers” are working on this. Developing a new radar will require a significant amount of hardware, RF and mechanical engineering development as well. Who is doing that work?

Eclipse Depositor Implications
5) Eclipse is planning to introduce a new version of Avio NG when their radar becomes available. It will be interesting to hear Eclipse’s plans as to what serial number will be the first to get their new radar.

Support Implications
6) Honeywell radar reliability and service track record is well known in the industry.
7) The new radar won’t have any support or service track record and will likely have some entry to service issues that need to be resolved.
8) Eclipse service centers will now have to maintain inventory of both Honeywell and Eclipse radars. This translates to additional cost for the Jet Complete program.

Product Implications
9) Will there be any significant differences in performance between the Avio radar and the Honeywell radar?


It also raises a number of questions.

Why is Eclipse doing this?

My guess is that someone at Eclipse decided that they could develop certify, produce and support a radar for less than the price from Honeywell or Garmin. I’m also guessing that the justification for developing the radar is based on an assumption that they can save a couple thousand dollars per radar times 1,500 aircraft a year. That would work out to a savings of $3M a year.

However, if it turns out that they are only going to produce 200 or 300 aircraft a year, and because of those lower volume projections, their cost of producing the radar is higher, they may end up saving say only $1K per radar over 300 aircraft a year or a total of $300K a year.

What is the opportunity cost of developing a radar?

I wonder what patents and other intellectual property protection Honeywell and Garmin have for their radar products.

One might argue that Eclipse should be using all their resources to meet the commitments they have already made to their customers instead of taking on new projects.

Gunner said...

FC-
Eclipsed essentially announced that it was going to become an Avionics Manufacturer the day they announced Avio. Doesn't matter that the components are third party; it's still their proprietary system.

Eclipse essentially announced that it was going to become an Aircraft Maintenance business the day they announced JetComplete.

Eclipse has accomplished not one single milestone without tripping over its own management hubris. Yet, they intend to be born, full grown, as a vertically integrated aviation giant. I give them great credit for the chutzpah; near failing marks for the execution.
Gunner

Ken Meyer said...

flightcenter wrote,
""Several of the software Engineers are developing a replacement for the Honeywell Radar system."

I was a bit surprised that no one followed up on this comment. If this was previously discussed, then I may have missed it.

This is a pretty major revelation which has some major implications."


Well it would if it were true.

I ignored it because the company publicly re-affirmed at the time of the Avio NG announcement that Honeywell is their color weather radar supplier. Furthermore, color weather radar is slated to be part of the initial release of Avio NG this summer.

What they may or may not do at some point in the future is purely speculative at this point, but I take their Avio NG announcement as strong evidence there is no immediate plan to switch from Honeywell for onboard radar.

Ken

Ken Meyer said...

gunner wrote,

"Eclipse essentially announced that it was going to become an Aircraft Maintenance business the day they announced JetComplete."

You're surprised they offer warranty and after-warranty maintenance support for their product??

If Eclipse didn't have a plan for the maintenance support of its product, I'm confident you'd be standing high on your soapbox, screaming at the top of your lungs, "They aren't able to maintain the planes people buy from them."

So, Eclipse is damned if they do, damned if they don't.

That kind of Alice-in-Wonderland thinking, which leaves non-hater's scratching their heads, is de rigeuer at the Eclipse-Hater blog :)

Ken

airtaximan said...

Ken pretty much trashed everyone on this blog, and stated their reasons for being here...pissed suppliers, disgruntled employees who coudn't handle the job, and of course former depositors who couldn't coem up with the rest of the money.. and concluded:

"What a potpourri the place has attracted!"

Ken: why are you here?

Gunner said...

Ken-
I agree they should offer service; in fact, I agree they should offer factory service. But I have yet to hear them AUTHORIZING any service center to work on an EA-50X other than their wholly owned, yet to be completed centers.

Think, just a little, before posting a silly response like that.
Gunner

airtaximan said...

Ken:

you hear anything about a condensation problem?

Ken Meyer said...

AT wrote,

"Ken: why are you here?"

My function is to provide occasional counterbalance to the most egregious statements posted here.

Ken

airtaximan said...

Regarding the AVIO and aftermarket support...

I think the whole issue is based on the fact that e-clips has everything going through their box, even the FADEC.

I really don't see this as insurmountable, but it has already reveled itself to be a major undertaking and problematic from functionality and completion stand point.

If the company has as PRIORITY NUMBER ONE customer satisfaction, and they are committed to high dispatch reliability, they will be replacing entire systems, parts, computers, cards etc... without really caring what the fault was, until after.

This could be very expensive, but also could be very efficient as far as time goes. Just yank and replace, worry about fault later.

Also, THIS company does not seem to be too concerned about their customers, so far. They are deliverng marginally functional airplanes that need to be fixed later. This is the opposite of the philosophy I'm refering to. Customer comes first, not customer takes what we have for them now.

Also the fingerpointing and blame culture at E-clips makes me think they will spend time "finding fault" which can lead to fights and delays.

In any case, as long as they continue to raise money, things will be OK until they run out of orders in late 2008... perhaps later if they scale back production... at which point they will have to increase prices becasue the procured parts and systems pricing discounts are based on volume.

vicious circle...

Ken Meyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
airtaximan said...

Then Ken... Since YOU claim to be here to:

"My function is to provide occasional counterbalance to the most egregious statements posted here."

Is it not possble that the others here see things differently than you, and their function is practically the same as your, with the same sincerity and lofty purpose?

I'll spell it out for you in your won words so you can understand:

"...to provide occasional counterbalance to the most egregious statements and claims made by e-clips."

Why the double standard Ken?

Ken Meyer said...

AT wrote,

"In any case, as long as they continue to raise money, things will be OK until they run out of orders in late 2008"

You are presenting your fanciful vision of the future as if it is already a proven fact when it is, in fact, just your own wishful thinking.

You do know the company has orders extending until at least 2010, right?

Ken

Ken Meyer said...

gunner wrote,

"I agree they should offer service; in fact, I agree they should offer factory service. But I have yet to hear them AUTHORIZING any service center to work on an EA-50X other than their wholly owned, yet to be completed centers."

Then you're not listening well enough. First off, it is not true that the centers are all "yet to be completed." The Albuquerque Part 145 center has been operational for months; Florida and New York centers will be open shortly.

Eclipse has been conducting maintenance training for months. Those who complete it become Eclipse Designated Repair Technicians (EDRTs), and can repair the plane at any location. A number of operators plan to perform their own maintenance using this mechanism.

The PW610F engines can, of course, be repaired by any PWC-authorized repair station. Furthermore, while Eclipse aircraft have some proprietary systems, most of those are in the form of LRU's (line replaceable units) that any mechanic can pull and send for swapping.

Finally, Eclipse has an AOG team that can respond to any location for immediate repairs.

Ken

Gunner said...

Ken said:
"Florida and New York centers will be open shortly.

I know.
- DayJet will be operational, shortly.
- N126DJ will demonstrate flight above FL270, shortly.
- The pitot system will stop freezing, shortly.
- The performance guarantees will be objectively verified, shortly.
- Avio NextGrift will be developed, certified and "cut in", shortly.
- B-mods will be developed, certified and "cut in", shortly.
- The aviation press will test fly the jet, shortly.
- The company will start producing 1,000 jets per year, shortly.

Looks like you keep coming up just a bit short(ly), Ken.
Gunner

Ken Meyer said...

Yeah, not everything is in place yet, Gunner.

You've made that point ad nauseum.

And then you ran out and bought a D-Jet where nothing is in place yet.

Makes sense that Eclipse having some things to complete bothers you, but Diamond having everything to complete is okay.

It's Alice-in-Wonderland again.

Ken

airtaximan said...

Gunner,

Everything has its time and pace, for e-clips.

They are working on two major efforts now...

1- building the orderbook
2- finishing the design

This IS NORMAL for any startup in this industry.

Later, they will:
... have training partners on line and simulators completed and running
... deliver planes that are completed in a normal production environement
... build a distributed network of convenient MRO shops, either licensed or their own.

all in good time buddy, all in good time. I guess they know they do not need a vast network of MRO shops soon... it's linked to production which seems to be far less than they contemplated, and also far more concentrated than we know...mostly in Florida!

-so far, its been mostly in ABQ... but that will change soon, I'm sure.

Gunner said...

Ken said, "And then you ran out and bought a D-Jet where nothing is in place yet."

To paraphrase my pal, Ken Myer, "That's wrong."

I purchased THREE D-Jets, Ken. Proudly. Happily. Know why? Because they're not the type of company that confuses future promises with present reality. They keep their heads buried in the business of building solid, dependable aircraft and out of their own orifices.

Thus, they differ greatly from companies like Eclipse and Moller. ;-)

How's the Mustang purchase coming, Ken?
Gunner

gadfly said...

Airtaximan asked the following:

"Ken:

you hear anything about a condensation problem?"

Some of us await the answer, with "details" other than "Yes" or "No".

gadfly

anonymous avionics engineer said...

'Developing a new radar will require a significant amount of hardware, RF and mechanical engineering development as well. Who is doing that work?' That is being done in Japan, I forgot the name of the company. The Radar is basically done. It hasn't been announced because of competative issues.
As a side note the FADECs and the Central Computer are totally separate from the AVIO system. Yes, they are tied in through data busses, but they are totally different animals residing in different parts of the aircraft.

Eric said...

Another Ex-EAC,

I, too, believe there is griping for griping's sake going on here. Then there's the personal feelings that get tangled up in things. I don't consider myself a critic or a supporter but more of a spectator. These things will be sharing the airspace in which I work. I don't have any fears of Eclipse catastrophes where EA500s are falling out of the skies and hitting other traffic on the way down... but I do take issue with Eclipse delivering a almost-finished product.

By the time there's 100-200 of these things flying around in owners' hands and in the employ of DayJet we'll know everything we need to know about it. At that point the market will decide how revolutionary the little jet is and whether or not that revolution was a good one.

Nevertheless, one cannot say that Eclipse hasn't accomplished quite a bit as a startup company. Of course, it helps to have the investment funds they had going into this project.

It'll be interesting to see one of these airplanes in the Flight Levels or even on a ramp somewhere. I'm expecting that to be in the next 12 months based on Eclipse's deliver projections.

Have a nice weekend, everyone.

Gunner said...

Hey look!
Mustang N245MU just departed Opa Locka for La Aurora, Guatemala. Climbing thru FL300 for FL400 with a Slant L designation, too. That's more than a thousand miles, mostly over water.

They sure are flying the heck out of that bird this week. Must be hunting Dinosaur bones down there. ;-)

But wait, Eclipse is also up on FlightAware along with the Mustang! Well kinda: One of the rotating banner ads reads:

Own Your Own Jet:
Own an Eclipse 500 Jet. Affordable at just 1.3 million.
www.eclipseaviation.com


Seriously, folks. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!
Gunner

FlightCenter said...

AAE,

So if I understand correctly, Eclipse and a Japanese company are jointly developing and certifying a radar for the Eclipse 500?

Reading between the lines it sounds like Eclipse is doing the software and the Japanese company is doing the hardware.

Do you know who will be responsible for certification? I'm assuming Eclipse as it sounds like they will be writing the software for the radar.

Do you know if the radar has been flight tested on an Eclipse?

FlightCenter said...

AAE,

You said "The FADEC is a card (actually 2 redundant cards) designed and programmed by Hispano-Suiza. ... These cards are co-located within the 'ACS' or the central computer for the aircraft, of which there are two, one per side."

Is the ACS a different name for the APC (Avio Processing Center) that is provided by Autronics?

If not, who makes the ACS?

PubGrubber said...

Another Ex-EAC and Ken

Please be careful when using generalizations of who and why people participate in this blog. To try and group all of us together as disgruntled ex-employees, Unhappy suppliers, or just mean spirited people that think anything new in Aerospace is bad and will fail I find personally offensive, as should others. I have "EARNED" the right to say what I want, when I want, about this "revolutionary little company". As have others here: If you care to discuss further - Pubgrubber@yahoo.com

airtaximan said...

AAE,

do you know if E-clips is responsible for the FADEC and contracted it to HS, or ws it PW (who would normally provide this) who developed it and is responsible for it?

If its E-clips, I'd ask "why"... I would expect some logic whereby the FADEC has greater integration with AVIO... but I cannot imagine why PW would not be responsible for it.


Thanks

Another_ex-eac said...

PubGrubber, why so sensitive. All I said was the experiences related here are not exactly what I have seen on the manufacturing floor. There are always two sides to every story. I gave my explanation for some of the extreme comments about the Eclipse culture. I find them to be an exaggeration from ex-employees who failed to find the paradise that they had hoped for. Now their sour grapes are displayed here for all to see, without any contrary views. Mine is a contrary view. If I stuck too close to the truth and got you fired all up, I'm sorry. If Eclipse decided to open another factory in another location, I would gladly consider returning.

anonymous avionics engineer said...

flightcenter:
The APC is the ACS, by Autronics. The Radar system was flight tested in a Cessna, over a year ago. Eclipse is planning on certifying it.
As to the rocket scientist questioning everyone's motivations, if Eclipse has the Fed in their pocket, and the State of N.M. is heavily invested, do you really think a complaint to the labor board will help? Most of what I have been speaking of has to do with mismanagement and inappropriately qualified managers with egos that are much larger than their abilities or knowledge. I mean look at the FACTS: certain members of the FAA team were BANNED from the first article inspection. Vern has GW and Blakley in his back pocket. This simply proves we have the best system money can buy. Eclipse is a blight on the Aviation community. Nothing personal, just more of the murder is legal if you have enough money scenario.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

another_ex-eac,

Approximately how long where at EAC and in what basic capacity?

The Pro-E crowd won't ask because your posts so far support their beliefs.

My acquiantences with experience there, as well as public actions against ex-employees, paint a picture far and away different from that you do and far more in line with exeac and pubgrubber and others. A pitcure of abuse and blamestorming and incredible hubris - and slander and interference for those who left or were escorted off premises.

Glad you had a better time.

airtaximan said...

AAE;

if you know somehow that Vern had Blakley and George W in his pocket, well, it would be terrific to know this. How?

If you are just assuming due to the obvious transgressions required to end up with a TC and PC under these conditions and with this abortion of a plane, well, I can't blame you regarding Blakley.. and I must admit, although the BS from Bush is regarding a completely different subject, I can't help but notice the same tone, timber and BS management and promotional tactics coming from E-clips top management.

Any real evidence or facts, or just your enlightened opinion?

airtaximan said...

two questions on the table:

1- anyone know who is responsible for the FADEC, EC or PW?

2- anyone hear of a condensation problem popping up recently?

anonymous avionics engineer said...

ATM, et al:
GW did his re-election thing at Eclipse, remember? Paybacks must be nice when you get to pick and choose who will inspect your product ahd what they can look at. I wish I had proof, but it would probably just cause my untimely demise from an unrelated incident. Hence, personal identifying information is not a good thing to post here.
EAC is responsible for the FADEC as far as integration, Hispano is not a preferred vendor to P&W. I believe EAC arranged this for pricing reasons. There is bad blood there with Hispano and P&W.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

ATM,

My sources tell me the FADEC was developed by\for EAC, and not at P&WC which, as you correctly point out, would be a far more 'conventional' approach.

Reasons were not given but I would guess either an issue over cost, lack of trust from EAC having been, in their minds anyway, 'burned' by Williams, or in an effort to control more of the pie.

I understand that employee\management compensation was tied in some way to engine TC and aircraft TC being closely tied (either pay or bonuses or stock options).

One way to ensure that you (an inexperienced airframer) are not upstaged by say an engine company with a solid track record of performance, and therefore to protect your financial interest, would be to control part of the systems necessary for their success too, no?

Also, I too had heard some rumblings about a radar development. Apparently Eclipse is very active in terms of 'acquiring' intellectual property of vendors and suppliers justifying it as a 'just-in-case' approach.

I have not heard antyhing yet re: excessive condensation but would not be surprised with those thin skins at altitude.

Wonder what that means in terms of insulation for passengers and protection for all those fancy eeeeelectronic devices mounted underneath the floorboards where the FAA guys are not allowed to look?

airtaximan said...

coldheartedfish:

I suspect that the FADEC is more integrated with the avionics than usual for this plane, and that's one reason E-clips is handling it and using HS.

I believe the "natural break" for the engine as as system with normally included the FADEC on the engine side is now, redefined. I'm not sure of the benefits, but there must be. I CAN imagine some issues:

Let's say, the FADEC needed to be "retuned" in order to get more thrust at lower altitude, or just greater overall thrust - turn up the wick... sorta speak. Who is responsible for the degredation of engine life? Does e-clips even have to ask PW?

What happens if there are faults regarding the engine, but it could be the FADEC, the controller hardare, the turbomachinery etc? WHo is responsible? I can imagine e-clips sending back turbomachinery to PW to have it fixed, only to be told, FNF...

- one benefit for e-clips, is, there may not be a FADEC for the 610. Perhaps PW did not want to invest $30 million in a FADEC for that end of the market with only the e-clips plane playing in that thrust?

Once again, this seems like a strange approach... any ideas? Maybe its a good idea?

Ken Meyer said...

AAE wrote,

"personal identifying information is not a good thing to post here."

AAE, that's really understandable when you post stuff like this:

"Hispano is not a preferred vendor to P&W. I believe EAC arranged this for pricing reasons. There is bad blood there with Hispano and P&W."

Now that may or may not actually be. But you're making it sound like Eclipse forced Hispano-Suiza on Pratt & Whitney Canada with PWC screaming and yelling against it. And worse yet, you're implying they did it just to save a couple of bucks.

So what a surprise it might be to some on the blog to learn that Hispano-Suiza is the FADEC manufacturer for the Mustang's PW615F engine and works very closely with Pratt & Whitney Canada on that project and others! So either Cessna made the same set of stupid decisions, or you're information about "bad blood" is bogus.

I suppose the rumor you posted about the radar is equally reliable?

Ken

Metal Guy said...

"Several of the software Engineers are developing a replacement for the Honeywell Radar system."

I was a bit surprised that no one followed up on this comment. If this was previously discussed, then I may have missed it.

This is a pretty major revelation which has some major implications."


Ken wrote:

Well it would if it were true.


Actually, JRC (Japan Radio Corporation) was contracted by Eclipse to develop a radar to replace the Honeywell unit. Cost reduction.

http://www.njr.co.jp/index_e.htm

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Ken,

Does it not bother you that owners such as yourself (by the hundreds) are being asked to pay the promised amount for an airplane that currently cannot fly FIKI, cannot fly in IMC, cannot fly RVSM\DME\GPS after the database expires without equipment modification, has no FMS functionality, has limited autopilot functionality, has cracking windshields and windows, has a defunct avionics suite that will be ENTIRELY replaced 'someday' with one that functions as promised by kluging together no less than 13 suppliers.

Does it not bother you that Eclipse tries to use fancy acronyms and high-fallutin terminology like LRU and MSG-3 to obfuscate their repeated failures and treating you like you are dumb are CAN be awed by discussion about 'airline-like' dispatch reliability and 'maintainability'?

Does it not bother you that they have yet to meet a single capability, a single schedule, a single budget, even remotely as promised?

Or do you suppose that is how all aircraft programs work?

You are wrong if you think those of us who have concerns about this program think you are dumb. We may question your decision but it is yours to make.

No, it is Eclipse that thinks you are dumb and easily impressed by poorly written and illogical whitepapers and fancy terminology.

Another_ex-eac said...

anonymous avionics engineer said... I wish I had proof, but it would probably just cause my untimely demise from an unrelated incident. Hence, personal identifying information is not a good thing to post here.

And ColdWetMackarelofReality questions MY credentials. Here's a guy that admits he has had an "unrelated incident". Gee, I wonder what his motivation is for being sour?

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

another,

I did not question your credentials, I asked what they were. When approximately where you there and in what capacity, that is all.

If you were a critic Ken would have already asked for this several times. I am just curious.

The key is 'unrelated' as in, without relation - I have clearly stated several times why I am here and what my industry experience is.

How about you?

Or are you another one-trick pony\alter-ego with nothing substantive to add other than attempted character assasination?

anonymous avionics engineer said...

I did not relate an unrelated incident. I am concerned that one might happen to me if I open my mouth too much. I have seen our government at work. It works by the people, but only for the people with money.
My remarks about H-S and P&W are based on HOURS of overhearing (not deliberatly) the finger pointing early on when H-S was first selected. Since then it makes sense that H-S takes the lessons learned from the E-500 and saves the learning curve expense for other manufacturers.

Yes, JRC is the Radar hardware supplier.

Heck, at least I am not a Test Pilot paying 1.3 or is it 1.5 or more million to test an air-taxi for another company, if and when the aircraft and companies pan out. That is just plain STUPID.

Sour, hardly, just reality based. Reality is way different when you have to work for a living.

anonymous avionics engineer said...

An 'unrelated incident' in my meaning is a euphemism for a career or life limiting occurance that might accidently occur.
Not paranoid, but Eclipse already has gone after ex-employees and has attempted to interfere with my career path. Sorry, but suing just doesn't work. Still, I am not sour. I hope it does work for aviation in general. The E-500 idea is a good one, if it does succeed, it will be despite Eclipse management and Vern's tactics, making it that much more valid as a concept.

FlightCenter said...

Metal Guy,

Thank you for the JRC information. It looks like JRC is used to operating on slim margins. Net income was under 2% of revenue last year.

A quick scan of the JRC website reveals the following:

1) JRC seems to be primarily a semiconductor and microwave component manufacturer.

2) $500M Rev with $9M net income.

3) It looks like their radar experience comes from supplying components to the marine radar market. They claim $38M in annual sales in selling microwave components to the marine radar market.

4) It does not look like they manufacture radars or have any experience manufacturing products for aerospace markets.

Finally here is an interesting comment from their corporate boilerplate.

The products listed in the catalog may not be appropriate for use in certain equipment where reliablity is critical or where the products may be subjected to extreme conditions. ...
· Aerospace Equipment
· Equipmwnt Used in the Deep sea
· Power Generator Control Equipment(Nuclear, Steam, Hydraulic)
· Life Maintenance Medical Equipment
· Fire Alarm/Intruder Detector
· Vehicle Control Equipment(automobile, airplane, railroad, ship,etc.)
· Various Safety Equipment

EclipseOwner387 said...

AirJordan,

I am in the Bahamas Great Exuma, so yes I am having a great weekend - except for the blown tire on landing! I will try to check in from time to time but I hope to be busy if you know what I mean!

;-)

EclipseBlogger said...

Clam shells will do that...

gadfly said...

The expression, “unrelated incident”, has been used of late in comments. And it was meant on a much lighter level than what I am about to relate. It was meant, I’m sure, on the level of a “job” or “career”. But in this state it gets far more serious than that.

There is a vast amount of anecdotal information that I wish I could relate . . . but even I am a coward, for the sake of my family, when it comes to that.

None of this has to do with Eclipse, to my knowledge, but within the political system, there is much that you do not wish to know. ‘Bottom line here is to be careful what you say . . . especially in the political arena. And it matters little which side you are on, if you go counter to the political system . . . you will lose.

Remember, the State of New Mexico has a financial interest in Eclipse . . . not because they believe in it, but because the governor is running for president.

Read me very carefully: The term “unrelated incident” in New Mexico has far more meaning than you can possibly realize . . . and, believe me, you do not want to go there.

gadfly

Plastic_Planes said...

Another Ex:

I find them to be an exaggeration from ex-employees who failed to find the paradise that they had hoped for. Now their sour grapes are displayed here for all to see, without any contrary views.

Gee, that's an interesting view from the "inside". I don't suppose you'd just share a little about yourself - where you worked (department) and when you were employed at EAC. (Ken - before you comment: I was in Production for the better part of 15 months during which I was contantaly aware of the name calling, and tirades on the floor). Why was nothing filed with the EEOC? Got me. I didn't do it because I took my concerns straight to Tina and she didn't do anything about it. I also took the to Peg and her response was "they know what they are doing". All a complaint will do there is cause a person to be blacklisted by the entire industry. I wanted to stay in the fray. I'm glad I did.

As for EAC bashing, I have supported both sides of the story here on this blog. Just read through many of the past entries. I have no fight in this anymore. I disliked management's use of strong arm tactics on the floor and in the conference rooms. No one has the right to frequntly tell you you are an "f***ing idiot" on the production floor in front of your peers (BTW, I am not talking about me, I am talking about one of the 30 or so folks working directly on the floor supporting prodcution). I realize that the biggest offender (but not the only offender) left recently (Paul Schumacher). I was never impressed by his antics (though, for some reason, he liked me...)

Anyway, you've personally offended all of us - not that this matters as there is a lot of that on this board. and as Pubgrubber said, please don't paint us all with the same brush. You just don't knwo what is the basis behind my opinions any more that what's behind Ken's.

Now, for the real reason for my post:

I saw the pictures from Eclipse Bloggers post. I am a lttle surprised about something: the s/n's represented on the AC subassemblies are much lower than I suspected. EAC paints the customer name and s/n on all the major assemblies. When I left in the fall of last year, s/n 25 was through FSW. seven months later and I see s/n 40 in the Position 1 tool. (See photo 22). that's 20 or so A/C in 7 months. That's not going to be a rate maker.

AC 37's cockpit hasn't been mated yet (see picture 26). That's done in Position 2.

S/N's 27 & 28 (?) are in Position 5 (last stop before final assy) (see picture 18).

I do see a lot of completed FSW skin assy's. This means they have a good supply of parts at the structures end of things (window surrounds and door surrounds were an early problem with supply). (see picture 29)

There are quite a few AC in final assy. (See picture 34). They are out of space and seem to have AC out of line positions (though this may be an intentional change). The original line setup was more of "u" shaped line - not with AC at right angles to each other or side-by-side (see right side of picture).

All in all, these are some interesting pictures. I also agree that there are way too few people shown in the photos to support even a 1/2 a plane per day rate. The work content in primary assembly is significantly higher than the work content in final assembly, and yet there appears to be more people in the final assembly hangar. Now, these could have been taken at break time, so I may be all wet. However, the low s/n's in promary assy lead me to believe even 100 delivered a/c this year will be a stretch.

/s/

anonymous avionics engineer said...

Gadfly:

I am picking up what you are putting down. I meant what you mean. I just put it in 'lighter' terms.

Plastic_Planes said...

Eclipseblogger said:
Some great pictures of the AVIVA factory tour.

http://tinyurl.com/2dpyzy

9:26 AM, May 11, 2007


In case you were wondering about the photos I was referring to.

Plastic_Planes said...

Also,

I know this will raise some cackles with some of you, but I find it a little dissapointing that the first two AC: David Crowe' (N508JA) and Dayjet number 1 (N109DJ) are still residing on site. S/N 1 received it's Cof A in September, DJ1 got it's in March.

That was a long time ago folks.

I know Ken, there are a million reasons why (some might even be good ones, but....)

Can't the birds fly away from the roost? This nest is going get heavy and fall out of the tree if they can't move them out. Not to mention mama is going to get tired of feeding her 18 year old children!

; )

Anyway, "Happy Mother's Day" to all the mom's out there that made us children a reality.

Enjoy your day.

/s/

Ken Meyer said...

Plastic wrote,

"I find it a little dissapointing that the first two AC: David Crowe' (N508JA) and Dayjet number 1 (N109DJ) are still residing on site."

W'hat's disappointing about that?

S/N 1 was until just recently in leaseback (reportedly it is no longer) and DayJet needs one or more planes on site in support of their training.

I believe the first two TC'd Mustangs (S/N 3 and 4) are in leaseback, too.

Ken

Stan Blankenship said...

Until mouse pointed out the low number of bodies on the shop floor, nobody questioned the Eclipse claim of having 1,200 employees.

I don't know what their head count might be, but the company does have a history of false claims made to support the high rate production goals which conveniently provides the basis for demanding the 60% payments from early position holders.

Plastic_planes gave them the benefit of the doubt, suggesting the images were taken while the workers were on break. Must have been a long break because those photos were probably taken over an hour time span.

Given the credibility this company enjoys, it is easy to conclude, the 1,200 number is probably just another exaggeration made to support the myth several hundred airplanes will be produced this year.

EclipseOwner387 said...

PP,

I consider your posts to be reasonably fair and balanced. We obviously all have some bias but I think you attempt as I do to be open minded about the program. You call concerns to what you don't like about Eclipse but also point out the positives. I think many are concerned about Eclipses ability to really ramp up production. This is exactly why I traded into SN24 out of my last position. From an expert in manufacturing that recently visisted the plant I was told that Eclipse has a long road ahead of them to become a high production operation. Too many quality escapes still exist - all fixable but slowing up the process. He does believe Eclipse will get there someday but it will take time. Time he believes they have because of the deep pockets behind the program. Put in the FWIW column.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

In defense of Eclipse,

Lack of bodies seen could also be that at least some of the photos appear to have been taken where final delivery or production flight test takes place and not on the production floor.

Could be too that EAC has more than one shift working.

Don't forget too that there are between 250-400 engineers and administrative folks, leaving 800-900 to be accounted for in production.

Don't forget also that they have something like a half-dozen buildings scattered around the airport and nearby area according to press releases.

I have been on the Cessna and Raytheon facilities alot and although they both employed nearly 10 times as many Eclipse claims, it was never crawling with people, at least not where the planes were being assembled (yes there were tech's putting them together, but you can only fit so many people around or in a plane the size of the Eclipse). Now back in the old machine sheds and such at Brand-C and Brand-R, there WERE a bunch of people, but that is the dinosaur way, Eclipse does not do that work, it is outsourced.

airtaximan said...

wefish,

you forgot one more thing...

you cannot see all the folks doing assembly from the inside of the planes, either...

:0

airtaximan said...

eo387,

I think you are exactly right...

It all depends on their ability to continue to raise capital...and they are most definately terrific at this.

I believe everyone here is very excited for you to get your plane.

airtaximan said...

plastic_planes:

I agree there seems to be very few people around, for a company with 1200 total employees. Also, as I've written a bunch of times in the last month since the traffic jam casued by the FAA (sarcasm, of course) was releived with the PC, "where are all the planes".

Someone corrected me and called me an idiot again, but you came back and said something like "David crowes plane was started in May 2006, and there were 27? planes in production in Spet 2006, and around 50 total as of Feb/Mar 2007".

I did some math and came up with some ungodly numbeber of hours as a ball park for these planes. Its in the tens of man-years per plane, no doubt... is this accurate? If it is, the cost of these initial discounted planes (60-100 of them or so?) FAR outweigh the selling price.

10 man years could easily be $500k.
20 = $1 million
30 = $1.5 million

..per plane...these planes could very well be COSTING e-clips $2 million a pop..

...and they haven't even completed the first 50 or so, yet... maybe not even the first 20, so the cost is adding up...

P_P...does this make any sense to you? WHat could be the hold up?

- BS on the high rate to begin with?
- Suppliers of parts, systems and assemblies?
- rework, and more rework?

** any clue as to whether Dayjet actually has to put of the 60% progress payment on each plane, they reportedly have 1/2 the first hundred... this related to e-clips ability to afford to buy parts for their planes. The model involved et 90 day terms, and 30 day turn time for production...with the long production time, the model is Humpty-Dumpty upside down...they NEED the cash pay for parts...

- any insight would be appreciated.

ATMan

Lloyd said...

Apparently aircraft are flying in RVSM space. Recent post my Mike Press:

We filed under the Eclipse pilot call sign so you probably did not see it. We flew at FL330 and were getting 335KTAS with 500lbs fuel flow. Our airplane is getting about 10kts better than book performance.

Every place we land there are a group of people wanting to look at the airplane.

mouse said...

AT, only two of the photos had any sign of anyone working inside the airplane.

For the record, parts and labor = $2.2M from start to finish, so profitability will be a ways away, or the real sales price will have to be revealed pretty soon.

Vern always planned on giving the first 100 airplanes away to establish the market, but that was also based on deliveries in 2003.

There is no holdback in the price for warranty either.

As for ramp space for storing airplanes, Vern always planned on the delivery taking place within hours of manufacturing completion, in fact his hope was the owner would fly the airplane with a test pilot on the very first flight, and the plane would deliver and fly away on the same day.

Would have been a good truck, huh? The plan was for paint in Mexico back then too.

FlightCenter said...

Mouse,

What is the percent split of manufacturing cost between parts and labor?

What is your take on the number of hours going into each aircraft?

ExEclipser said...

I had a forum going for a bit and it was totally deleted. I've been putting it back together and one of the tasks that I was performing was copying all the press releases from all of the VLJ Manufactures so that they are easily searchable and perhaps in the event some may 'disappear' from the official websites.

Some things that I noticed with regards to press releases:
Cessna comes in 2nd with the sheer quantity of press releases specifically related to the Mustang - a total of 34 that I could find back to Feb 10, 2005.
Eclipse is in first place with 151 since March 2001.
To compare apples to apples, Eclipse has 63 press releases since February 2005.
OK, to be a bit more fair, I included ALL of Eclipse's press releases and only Cessna releases that are specific to the Mustang and didn't include their corporate news.
Some other things I learned:
Eclipse is like the Ancient Egyptians - they announce their victories but rarely mention losses. There's a release about 1000 orders back in 2002 for Nimbus. The order book then jumps above 2000 on September 9, 2002, but the orders never roll back after the demise of the Nimbus contract. The latest order-related press release was late last year for THREE from Dole corp. There were never any other press releases for so few aircraft.

Other VLJ press release numbers: Adam700: 16; ATG: 17; Diamond: 15; Piper: 5.

airtaximan said...

mouse, I was only kidding...

the plane is so small, only a few people COULD fit in it to work on it anyway!

Thanks

airtaximan said...

Mouse,

For the record, parts and labor = $2.2M from start to finish, so profitability will be a ways away, or the real sales price will have to be revealed pretty soon.


and this is in a normal production environment? These days, it takes a lot longer to make a plane over there, no?

I would not agree that labor CAN be apportioned at this point to a specific aircraft, reliably. I would take the whole labor force and divide by number of planes delivered over a give period, to come up with labor cost per plane. This seems like the only real way to guage waste, etc. Perhaps this is what you have done...

If they are saying this is the number, currently, I would doubt its even close.

cj3driver said...

A few years back I purchased a new CJ1 from Cessna. I noticed at the factory, the assembly line for the CJ1 also included the CJ2 and CJ3. When it comes down to it, I don’t see how Cessna makes a profit on the CJ1. A couple more windows a longer tube and extra length on the wire harness and a slightly larger engine. Actual cost for the different models can not be that great. All aircraft move down the assembly line at the same rate. In paint, interior, test flight and delivery for a similar amount of time. The difference in price is 1.5 to 3 million between models. The point is by having iterations of the same product line; the manufacturer makes profits on the efficiencies. Same cockpit, same fuselage and wing (albeit stretched) similar interior. I believe Cessna posted profits of 18% on sales last year. I’ll bet most of it came from the larger models.
Mustang is moved to Independence (non-union) and I’ll bet they don’t make a huge profit on it. I know for sure they use it as a tool for move-up. I made a deposit on a Mustang in ’02. At the time I had a Jet Prop. During the wait…… Cessna gave me a demo in the CJ1 and I was hooked! I now have a CJ3.
I think in order to survive, Eclipse needs model variation. I’ve heard the 500 can’t be stretched, can it be scaled up?
Take a look at Embraer, They aren’t wasting any time. Phenom 100 , or stretched, a 300.

If you take the cost of the original CJ when originally produced in 1993 of $2.95M, and adjust for actual inflation since, the similarly equipped price for a new CJ1 is much less in real dollars than when introduced. Cessna just announced the 1,000th CJ. Dinosour?
BTW- Embraer just announced a price increase for the Phenom 100.

mouse said...

AT,

My $2.2M is based on the actual cost to build one plane with the cost of parts and labor at about 10K man/hours back in '02. If you used their current labor workforce the number would be closer to $5M probably (LOL).

My number is based on planned labor and actual parts. When we built the first plane the company had no clue on parts cost because the procurement was such a mess. Orders were placed for assemblies, and piece parts parts (double ordered) because nobody knew what was needed, the bill of materials was so screwed up, and to top it off the design was so not frozen that absolutely everything was changing weekly, and sometimes daily/hourly. The parts costs I used were based on actual parts installed on the plane, and the assumption of 10K manhours to build it. Our actual build time was about 6 months X 18 people working 80-100 hours each for that time.

Unless Eclipse can get their quantities up to 750+ per year they will never see any of their cost saving prices from vendors kick in. I am sure since I left the prices have not gone down. Materials have risen, confidence from the vendors as gone down, the number of vendors has gone up, engineering resources have gone up (a lot) and they were already high, facility footprint has increased 5 fold, payroll and pop has sky-rocketed, and tooling has gone through the roof.

The investment is triple what Vern was planning (unless his fingers were crossed, which is not a stretch) so you have to add a big chunk for ROI (my $2.2M does not include any of these factors).

At $1.2M the EA-500 might have been the WonderJet it was hoping to be. IMHO it will never be a 135 profitliner for anyone. The maintenance will be very similiar to the legacy entry level jets, and this is what will kill the 135 opportunities. The unit cost of the airplane is the smallest piece of the airline issue. Fuel and maintenance is everything. While the P&WC 610 is very fuel efficient (just like the FJ33's) the maintenance of the airframe will be astronomical. Unfortunately the plane can't read, and so the Eclipse whitepaper is just a roll of Charmin. MSG-3 in the case of Eclipse is a triple dose of Monosodium Glutimate and will only lead to swelling and hives...

The whole 135 concpet is a slide-of-hand to justify the numbers for production, and the production number is a shell game to try and make the developkent/investment make any sense at all.

All of the power is now in the hands of those "miserable vendors" that Vern dispises so much, who can withhold parts. Eclipse owns some fixtures, a lot of incomplete/unproven drawings, and a whole bunch of leases on property they do not have to pay for yet.

Like JetBlue and TED, they are/were only profitable because Airbus gave them new airplanes with waived lease payments for 5 years. Now that they have to pay for the leases (after the 5 years), the maintenance now that the heavy checks and component overhauls are coming due, higher fuel costs, Etc. they will go by the wayside. How else did anyone think these upstart low fare carriers could operate when they were paying the same pilot/stew salaries, fuel costs, gate fees, Etc? Free planes or in Eclipses example, free buildings, other peoples money, no cost accounting, no parts manufacturing ability (remember they only stick others peoples parts together in the jigs) let you operate for a while without much cost. When the real costs come due it becomes a Condo of cards over a Kool-Aid factory.

I fear a lot of good people, friends, and owners/depositors will be hurt.

mouse said...

CJ3, the reason the Conquest II was dropped was because it cost the same labor hours and parts cost as the Citation, yet the Citation was sold for twice the price. The CJ1 is not at a loss, but rather the CJ2/3/4 is that much more profit/value.

Cessna mixes/matches wings and fuselages and makes a huge family of aircraft. They are very smart, and like a bigger yacht, each one is just incrementally better than the model before it. A few knots, a few more pounds of useful and it satisfies another customer or gives a reason to move up the existing owner to something new and improved.

Cessna provides a good product and an even better value (see your latest Vref or Bluebook)

cj3driver said...

Mouse,
I agree, .....It takes Cessna 6 months from tube to delivery. A CJ rolls out of the door 1 every 3 days, +/-. They are pro's and they will deliver about 130 CJ's this year. They run 2 shifts and they are very good at it. I remember that it took over 9 months for Cessna to increase production by about 30% a couple of years ago. Eclipse has a long haul to compete, but I sure hope they dont fail.

ExEclipser said...

RE: Personnel -

I know when I left, there were close to 1000 employees. They've frozen hiring for all but production and added about 250 of those folks.

Eclipse is a huge complex. There are six separate buildings and people are spread out to at least two other buildings that are being shared.

The main building houses most of marketing, flight test, delivery center, customer care center, finance and admin. There are two flight test hangars and three delivery hangars. These are where 75% of the flight test aircraft were tested. Easily room for at least 15 aircraft and comfortably housed around 400 persons.

A local FBO houses training folks.

An old TWA hangar houses final assembly. Plenty of room for about 50 cubicles and the location of final assembly. There's room for about 5 aircraft in the assembly line.

Next to that is the paint hangar with 4 paint booths and 2 alodine booths. Not a lot of room for cubes, but certainly a huge facility.

Down the street is another building housing close to 200 people.

Across the highway is the Friction Stir / Receiving building with room for about 100 desks/cubes.

Next to that is initial assembly (nose-body-empennage mate). Seen close to 150 people in that building alone.

Finally, there are at least two shifts operating. Are they at full steam? Probably not. But they have plenty of room to crank 'em out.

Stan, your vitriol is disappointing. Because you assume that a series of photos take an hour to snap and because you're not seeing 50 people running around each aircraft, you conclude that "Given the credibility this company enjoys, it is easy to conclude, the 1,200 number is probably just another exaggeration made to support the myth several hundred airplanes will be produced this year."

snowcrash66666 said...

N396DM and nice Citation mustang is currently at FL390 doing 358 kts over the ground on a nonstop flight from Dallas Addison to KISM.

Are there any Eclipse aircraft being flown around for any reason besides training or promotion now? Are there 20 aircraft or more "delivered"? I look forward to the day when we start to see some transparent evidence that the Eclipse is actually out there. Were the deliveries up until now not real? Does anyone even know a story about his uncles cousins brother flying the kids in his new eclipse? What all of this says to any of us who have even a passing familiarity with reality is that Eclipse has not started real deliveries yet. They are once again parsing words, and boasting.

So my question is how far away are we from air taxi or owner flights by civilians - and planes leaving the Eclipse factory to sit in hangars in other states? Until that happens, maybe it would be a good time to stop bragging about how Eclipse is beating Cessna.

Stan Blankenship said...

eclipser,

I spent a lot of years working in an aircraft factory where the head count went up and it went down.

I was on the factory floor every day and had you asked back then, I could not have guessed the total employment within plus/minus 500. As you point out, the workers are dispersed throughout many buildings and many work areas.

Unless you had access to HR records, I doubt if you have any better estimate as to what the actual numbers might be.

What is a fact is the penchant for Eclipse to put out numbers that support their business plan whether fact or fiction.

Remember the DayJet order book...700 orders and 700 options, from a company that has raised less than $110k!

cj3driver said...

Here's a great wager..... Deliveries to Retail cusomers...Cessna Mustang or Eclipse 500.... Aircraft must be Fully fuctional (IFR, RVSM, FIKI, DME 135 capable) Cessna has publicly stated they will deliver 40 units by year end. Eclipse says 400. Who's good at making odds? 100 units 200 units 350........ Cessna says they may deliver over 50 Mustangs this year and possibly 150 next year. Maybe they deliver more fully funtional planes than Eclipse. Cessna has firm orders for over 300 Mustangs.

Gunner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gunner said...

snowcrash66666-
You can't convince The Faithful of how far Eclipse has to go, because they truly believe the company is a tightly wound spring just waiting to be let loose. They wake to a new Sun each day, believing "Today is the Day Eclipse will show the world. I just know it!"

Perhaps they'll ramp production up to 250, 400 or 1,000 planes per year. But it will be as you say, over the course of months and years; not overnight. Meantime, will the next 300 depositors please send in your Progress Payments. Your planes will be delivered "shortly".

cj3driver-
Similarly, you can't ever win the wager you offer. The Faithful hold Eclipse to a completely different standard as they do the rest of the industry. The Cessna "deliveries" will quickly require FlightAware evidence of 41K flight while proof of Eclipse deliveries will remain a Press Release regarding one more ABQ tethered jet "delivered". You may not "lose", but they certainly won't pay up, even if they take the bet; and this Blog proves they'll NEVER take a bet.

It's sad that one company can change the entire language we've employed for decades to describe aircraft design and manufacturing "progress".
Gunner

mouse said...

No matter whether the photos were over 1 minute or 1 day any one who knows anything about manufacturing would know that there should be more bodies on the airplanes. At least one of the planes should have someone doing something tangible. If they backed away from the photo to improve the shop then there should be some people in the background or shadows. And if you were really trying to crank'em out, I doubt you would back away from the lens. Heck, Vern would love to have a photographer capture actual construction taking place. On the normal factory tours they hustle up every available hand to "look busy" (Fact Ken, sorry to burst your bubble)

Black Tulip said...

CJ3,

I'm not good at calculating odds but I believe your intuition is correct. I suspect there will be more fully functioning Mustangs in the sky at year end than Eclipse 500s. FlightAware will tell the tale, and it remains the litmus test... number of aircraft, owners, flight level, groundspeed, rate of climb, rate of descent, endurance, range and flight plans filed versus flown.

The avionics vendor switch alone must be daunting. I like the faithful's phrase, 'they will cut-in new avionics at serial number such-and-such'. If Eclipse were running an oil refinery it might be different, "We've been running Venezuelan crude feedstock this morning, but we are going to cut-in Nigerian oil at noon."

Black Tulip

cj3driver said...

I built a 500 on the Eclipse website. A fully loaded plane will cost just under 1.9M in 09 dollars. A much better equipped Mustang can be purchased for 2.8 in 09. My guess is, the 900K delta is enough to make a difference in some of the cases, but, if Eclipse raises the price as some expect to 2.2 the difference becomes 20% or less, I think Eclipse will have a hard time making sales in the owner flown market.

In addition, I think that making the commitment to get a "type rating" in any jet, and keeping up recurrent training and proficiency for the typical owner is a greater obstacle than the price. The thinking might be, “For all that work, you might as well go for the Mustang”.

After spending 2 or 3 million on a "new" plane, plus maintenance and overhead, the fuel burn doesn’t make that much of a difference considering the size of the cabin and amenities. Most of the time the "owner" will want to show off his/her toy, take family or friends with, and the comfortable large cabin of the Mustang is a major plus.
Another point on fuel burn, most of the time your cheapest fuel is at your home base. Since the majority of the operating cost is fuel, The ability to ferry fuel from your home base can save over 50% of total cost of operation. Round trips using home fuel may be possible if your trips are 400 to 500 miles. This more than outweighs the higer fuel burn if you have the capablity to ferry.

Also, from personal experience, when I sold the CJ1, believe it or not, the most negative comments (possibly even lost sales) was that my plane did not have a ‘flushing” potty. I had ordered the non-flushing version. The guy that ended up buying my plane…….. his wife made him have the flushing version installed. Cost over 20K to convert at the Service center. The point is, even on a plane designed for less than 1000 miles, the toilet (especially flushing) makes a difference.


By the way, if I had the choice between a new mustang or a used CJ1……… CJ1 all day!

Black Tulip said...

CJ3-

We went through the Mustang analysis several years ago and concur. Ironically the regional Cessna salesman tried to talk us out of it, based on current aircraft ownership. He said we wouldn't be happy with range, payload and cabin size.

Now - about your news from Embraer. A price increase on the Phenom 100 would be very good news indeed.

Black Tulip

mouse said...

Black Tulip and CJ,

Wait until Vern makes contractual language making EA-500 owners block their N numbers from being displayed on FlightAware.

Also, the avionics cut-in as Vern calls it probably will hit the S/N he calls for precisely, but he will also just not build that S/N until AVIO NfG is really done, sometime in the fall of 2008?

With Vern's track record with vendors, I wonder what the chances are that NfG will certify before one of the 13 vendors bails or gets tossed on their ears? If this happens, it's NfG 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, or maybe AVIO Vista?

The more vendors they have in a system, the more likely the project will never complete. The odds are against Eclipse with every new risk partner (vendor) they add.

avtechpro said...

well, gentlemen. i can only say that as i work at eclipse i see first had all the problems. but as i recall most new aircraft development encountered quite a few years of getting it right. yes the avionics is a nightmare due to integreation. there is a lot of behind the scenes work going on to correct that. i am not going to bash the comapny for the vision, nor attack anyone here. i enjoy reading the blog here and while i see the problems everyday, IF it can be pulled off would be something special.