Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fast Forward

Dateline: April, 2019

Publisher: Albuquerque Journal
Subject: Where Are They Now?

On the twentieth anniversary of the launch of the Eclipse 500 Jet, the aviation writer of this newspaper has conducted a retrospective in this interesting aircraft and the company that ‘produced’ it. Few of the participants could be located and even fewer would comment for publication. An extraordinary resource developed however. Using a powerful computer tool, the writer has conducted a thorough search of the old Internet and located the ‘website’ called Eclipse Aviation Critic. A sole ‘poster’ remains active and through him we found the whereabouts of some of the players.

Vern Raeburn, former president of the company, now plays piano in the lounge of the Holiday Inn in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Reached by phone he said, “Yeah, I miss the old days at Eclipse Aircraft. We had a good run. I like the creative uses that some of the aircraft have found. The Eclipse low-riders up in Espanola are really neat.

Vern sighed and then said, “Many of us had to find jobs outside the aviation industry and I like it here at the Lamplighter Lounge. Jim Bede stops by occasionally and we talk about old times. He’s got a great singing voice.”

Peg Bilson, former chief operating officer, is hostess at the International House of Pancakes in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. After repeated tries she returned our call, “Yes, it’s the same Peg Bilson. You know I had a bright future in aviation but I always knew that my Embry-Riddle education would also prepare me for a career in the food services industry. You know we have the best blueberry pancakes in northeastern Rhode Island.”

Ken Meyer, a former depositor, was introspective. “It was a real education to see the Very Light Jet fad buildup and then diminish. Through it all, I’ve kept my now-forty-year-old Cessna piston twin. And now I’ve put a deposit on a really exciting new development – The RAM XXVI Conversion. My liquid cooled engines are being replaced by motors incorporating a heavy water cooling jacket and palladium pistons. You know Pons and Fleischmann had it right with Cold Fusion in 1989. My Cessna 340 is really gonna go now.

”Few of the other ‘bloggers’ could be located. Only one appeared to have done well with new aviation concepts. A man using the handle, ‘gadfly’, has operated his Moeller Skycar for five years now. Reached by email, he said that he was working on a new ‘STC’, which stands for Submarine Type Certificate. “It’s going to be the first truly multimode vehicle on the planet,” he wrote.

The most notable of those involved in the Eclipse story is former President Bill Richardson. He operated the sole flying example of the type. “I wanted it to be called Air Force One when I was using it,” President Richardson said. “But the best radio call I could get was Air Force Zero Point One. We took all the seats out except two – one in front and one in back for my, well… rotund figure.”

The whereabouts of Stan Blankenship, the founder of the website, is unknown. He was in a work release program while incarcerated at a minimum security facility. While picking up trash along the Interstate, he inexplicably fell back behind the van, took off his orange vest, dropped it and slipped into the woods.

Another 'blogger', the Black Tulip, was recently released based on new DNA evidence. He is thought to be living in a cheap motel near Cleveland, much like a character in the Willy Nelson song, “Pancho and Lefty.”

From the fertile mind of Black Tulip

The tulip mania peaked in the Netherlands during the 1630s. The black tulip was the most sought after, until found to be biologically impossible.


JetA1 said...

Great discussion on boots in the previous thread: to wait, or not to wait...

Having been closely involved in several FIKI cert programs, and recently sitting in on an FAA briefing of the issue, I can tell you the NTSB and FAA are 100% aligned on this one: Start poppin' the boots at the first encounter of ice.

From 1st hand experience, the aircraft handling after a 2 minute exposure to icing can be far more dangerous than a 4-inch rams-horn shape. I know it sounds crazy, but it's true. A "sandpaper" shape results in the wing (or tail) lift separating without any advance warning. A large shape will give lots of airframe buffet before the departure from controlled flight.

Take a look at the NTSB final on the Circuit City C560 accident at KPUB, for a prime example. The FAA is campaigning hard to prevent events such as Comair 3272, where the AFM had been recently changed, but the "wait until 1/4 to 1/2 inch" traditional "wisdom" was used instead, which cost many people their lives.

The FAA is pushing manufacturers to issue revisions to AFMs to make these changes. And when they say "modern" deice equipment, they mean anything after about 1960.

Having seen what very light ice accumulations on boots can do (compared with residual or inter-cycle shapes) I'd highly recommend folks like Gunner give the maker of their plane a call to see if AFM changes are in the works, or have been issued already and just missed by some operators.

Gunner said...

Thanks much, jeta.

It's a controversial subject, I know. For piston twins the answer is (and always has been) "get out now, deice equipped or not". I intend to pursue this subject on my own.

Now back to the EA-500; it doesn't suffer from the dilemma of when to deploy the boots. It suffers from the dilemma of will it ever have any.


planet-ex said...

I thought the FAA handled that one the ADs that they started issuing in 1999 (there's a stink load of them).

"The FAA does not concur that no unsafe condition exists. As discussed in the preamble of the proposed rule, the FAA has reviewed the icing-related incident history of certain airplanes, and has determined that icing incidents may have occurred because pneumatic deicing boots were not activated at the first evidence of ice accretion. As a result, the handling qualities or the controllability of the airplane may have been reduced due to the accumulated ice. The FAA also discussed an accident that occurred as a result of the failure of the flightcrew to activate the wing and tail pneumatic deicing boots."

JetA1 said...

Now back to the EA-500; it doesn't suffer from the dilemma of when to deploy the boots. It suffers from the dilemma of will it ever have any.

The FAA mentioned in the boots briefing that "modern" boots inflate rapidly, but "early" boots took very long times to fully inflate.

Along with so many other terms, EAC seems to have redefined "very long time to inflate" wrt their boots! ;)

The FAA also discussed an accident that occurred as a result of the failure of the flightcrew to activate the wing and tail pneumatic deicing boots.

That's the Comair 3272 accident they are referrring to.