Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Flawed Approach

In over a year and thousands of comments posted to this blog, no one, including the blog administrator, has summarized the flaw in the Eclipse approach better than what flyger did last night:

"Eclipse thought they were in the "aviation technology invention business", but that's misguided. They wasted a lot of their time fooling with stuff that ain't ready instead of just building a damn plane."


mirage00 said...

I remember when Stan would discuss Eclipses aerodynamic flaws and thrust to weight ratios, etc... Look what has become of Stan and his beloved blog.


I remain amused.

double 00 just driving by

Ken Meyer said...

Bear in mind that Flyger is heavily committed to Cessna; his brother worked on the Mustang project. So, he's always knocking Eclipse; it's his raison d’être.

Eclipse could have built a conventional jet with conventional avionics. That's what Cessna did. They downsized their Citation and wedded it to an existing avionics system. Very safe. Very conventional.

And it works fine.

But Eclipse set out to build something new and better, not just the same old jet downsized to sell cheaper.

Look at the piston planes Cessna is selling today, and even the pistons they hope to sell in the future--all very conventional, based on old, tried and true designs.

So, along comes Cirrus with some novel thinking, and they're stealing the market from them.

"Conventional" is safer certainly, but homeruns are hit by those willing to think outside the box.


Stan Blankenship said...


Had Eclipse taken the safe approach and built an "A" model with off the shelf avionics, you and Shari would both be jet pilots and the blog would probably not exist.

Once Eclipse had established a revenue stream, they could bring out the "B" model with more whistles and bells, better performance. Then the "C" and the "D" which you could upgrade to and eventually get to the airplane Vern envisioned.

For sure, had they taken a more conventional approach, their balance sheet would look a whole lot different.

mirage00 said...

For sure, had they taken a more conventional approach, their balance sheet would look a whole lot different.

"There you go again." Have you seen their balance sheet?

I remain amused

double 00

mouse said...

Mirage, get a clue jerk! The Eclipse spreadsheet is out there for the world to see. Your savior, Vern has diarhea of the mouth, constipation of the brain, and a collection of AFM-thumpers like you to try and convert the masses. People like Vern have visions of ruling the world, borne on the back of mind-numb people like yourself.

Again, put on an O2 mask and stop your yawning... PS. Hearing from you ain't amusing, it's embarrassing...

Ken Meyer said...

mouse peeped,

"get a clue...
diarhea of the mouth...
constipation of the brain...
visions of ruling the world...
mind-numb people like yourself...
put on an O2 mask and stop your yawning...
Hearing from you ain't amusing, it's embarrassing"

Nothing but ad hominem in that post. Is your point so weak you cannot make it without all the personal attacks?


Gunner said...

Bear in mind that Ken is heavily committed to Eclipse; his deposit is lost unless more Ponzi-Lovers step up. So, he's always knocking oter aircraft; it's his raison d’être.

flightfollowing said...

Stan's comment is interesting, but I'm not sure it would have worked to build something conventional to start with. Eclipse needed small engines which did not exist when they started. They had to partner with Williams for those. And then when the -22 engines didn't work out, they had to have a big enough orderbook to entice another engine maker to build an equivalent. If Eclipse had started conventional, I don't think they would have survived the Williams to P&W swap. However, I do think Eclipse should have pursued a garmin panel long ago. Had they done so, they might be much better off right now without all the IOU's and with a more functional aircraft. As it is, they are already going to retrofit the panels for the Avidyne aircraft, they would have had nothing to lose having had a Garmin option long ago.

flyger said...

Ken Meyer said...

Bear in mind that Flyger is heavily committed to Cessna; his brother worked on the Mustang project. So, he's always knocking Eclipse; it's his raison d’être.

You sir, are confused. But I guess we already knew that.

I have to hand it to Vern, find people with a million bucks who are like Ken. Not only do they get taken, they will defend Eclipse to their dying days! Wow, the "stockholm syndrome" for business jets.

I've got to take the Eclipse customer list and sell something to those guys. I'll be rich!

But Eclipse set out to build something new and better, not just the same old jet downsized to sell cheaper.

"New" is right, "better" is not yet demonstrated, and so far it is still "worse". "Old" is your attempt to label success as something else.

"Conventional" is safer certainly, but homeruns are hit by those willing to think outside the box.

"Strike out" seems to be the outcome of this at bat. That's what happens to most when they try to hit home runs without experience. Hmm, they whiffed on Williams, Avio, and pitot/static. "Yer out!"

Don't blame me, you're the one with the baseball analogy.

So far, no Eclipse customer has gotten what they paid for when they expected it. So far, every Mustang customer has.

Eclipse is a cult, not a business.

airtaximan said...

funny to hear someone say:

"e-clips thought they were in the aviation technology business"

They would have to have known the difference... which they obviously didn't. 9 years, $1.x billion, 20 planes later... they obviously didn't.

They also never understaood any of the risk - which is the scariest part. At its heart and sole, any aviation company needs to have a handle on "risk"...

"Ooops...sorry, uh...missed that one..."


"It's THEIR fault!!!"

Is a really bad sign...too.

- theyse clowns have been off by many NMs, hundreds of $millions, and years.

Doesn't sound like a safe bet to me.

airtaximan said...


"(I suspect Eclipse is working to entice these folks to “step up” to some future Eclipse model)."

think hard about this, and you'll probably notice one thing is strange about e-clips. They NEVER had the customer in mind with anything they have done. Never. What makes you think they will be trying to entice customers to step up?

I bet the new design is as disrespectful to any customer's wishes as the 500 was. It was designed around an engine... it was not designed to fill any market. This is the biggest BS story in aviation...

..full of air taxi fables, "value propositions" and the like.

The only market the 500 filled was Vern's own personal vision, streached a bit from Sam Williams "hanging bracket for his mini engine" called the V-jet.

So, I suspect, the new e-clips coming out in a few weeks, will be designed for one purpose: commonality of parts to get the parts prices lower on the 500... and lower cost to attract any kind of volume.

- smaller planes seem to be working for Satsair and the like flying Cirus props for taxi service at $500/hr. I think the ant farmers and cosmonauts at Dayjet will soon figure out that the $20 mil spent on computer systems waiting for the dumb-jet to get fixed and show up, was also, dumb.

They can fly a guy or two at a time in a smaller plane, and forget about the brain dammage associated with their much hyped per-seat scheme.

Smaller jet at $675,000 delivery in 2 years - tons of commonality.

Vive la revolutione!

bill e. goat said...

Well, I had to repost this because I abandoned my old dinosaur MS-
Word program, and went with openoffice 2.0 (lower cost, more features- including forward and back leaning quotes, that translate into jibberish on this blog. New technology gone not quite shaken out yet. Glad I wasn't typing a prescription- or flying in IFR?- Just Kidding- “hopefully” ("hopefully" :)

Ramblings on a Saturday morning...

I find it interesting that the discussion (um, somewhat lively discussion), contains a good deal of speculation about Eclipse's financial situation.

To me, this is the big mystery, the big unknown. After all, it is an aluminum airplane, with P&W engines, and probably 4000+ flight hours fleet time, so it's not a techno flash-in-the-pan, and WILL be brought into service- how successfully, and in what quantities, (and for how long), TBD.

Many startups have had good "paper airplanes" (1), and some have progressed slightly beyond that (2), but failed for financial reasons- mostly grossly unrealistic anticipation of certification expenses- and/or lack of deep pocket backing. And frankly, a lot of airplanes designed by people with "the mindset of a 4th year aero student. He/she is an idealist, not a realist". (Um, did I say Burt Rutan- No I didn't. Say it, that is. But I thought it. Disappointing that such an aeronautically gifted fellow has perpetually produced products that ultamately are uncertificatable- again, 4th year aero student designs. Oh well, youthful enthusiasm, and stupidity I suppose, have their place- under adult supervision. I thought the BOD would provide adult supervision for Vern, but it's sort of like a pyramid scheme for the past several years- the financial house of cards is so fragile, I think they are afraid to make any large changes- or even sneeze).

Talk about Cessna and old piston designs. Cessna is smart. They are fully aware of the performance limitations of the somewhat dated design. But also aware of the advantages of a dated design.

1)Tooling is already in place
2)it is already certified
3)logistics infrastructure is already established
4)Market demand is strong
5)Lawsuit-producing accidents have already occurred, and been paid off, and defiencies discovered in the process have been corrected, and design review processes implimented (with the advantage of lessons learned from literally millions of hours of flight time).

Cessna is in business to make a profit. New designs, clean-sheet certifications, new tooling and facilities are expensive. Market success of your new product often comes at the expense of current models (hence, Eclipse will probably be going substantially up-market with their next airplane, to avoid ravaging E-500x sales).

Cessna doesn't build "dinosaurs" because they are inept- in fact, just the opposite. Their product lineup is EXPRESSLY controlled to produce the optimum PROFIT, (optimum financial performance, not necessarily optimum aeronautical performance).

(I use the term "dinosaur" not disparagingly, but as a term of convenience, and mostly in regard to their piston single lineup, but admit much of the Citation lineup also involves heavy "carry forward" from previous decades- hey, if it works pretty good- it is worth the cost to change it? I think Cessna is VERY astute in evaluating both financial and aeronautical real-world tradeoffs).

New-comers to the manufacturing world have the advantage, and disadvantage, of offering "clean sheet" designs. But explicitly, this is out of NECESSITY. It is spun as "an advantage". (And it can be "an advantage" to the customer- but LITERALLY, at the expense of the company). Cessna COULD do a clean sheet designs for every different model. They have the technical capability (um, so does Eclipse- every 10 years or so; apparently, from their track record anyway). But it is NOT optimally profitable for Cessna to do so. Some will compare Cessna and Eclipse in terms of aerodynamics, cost, and performance; Vern would have you believe this is the sign of "innovation"- in reality, it is honestly a sign of necessity. While pilot's will gauge Eclipse's success in terms of aircraft performance, the industry will gauge Eclipse's success in terms of profit. So far, Eclipse has been a relatively dramatic success (a truly break-through product as a replacement for the Baron) for pilots- and an abysmal failure for investors.

As far as the industry goes? Well, Eclipse has prompted Cessna to partially fill a hole in it's product line-up, and Eclipse may even produce a queue of future "step up" customers for Cessna (I suspect Eclipse is working to entice these folks to "step up" to some future Eclipse model). I am modestly surprised Beech (or whatever they're called now) hasn't addressed their own seeming product lineup deficiencies, but coming up with an Eclipse-500-like replacement for the Baron. But like I said above with Cessna replacing their current piston singles, Beech DOES already have the Baron designed, certified, and tooled. And if the Baron were to be "promoted" (well, hyped, like Vern does the E-500), and Beech were looking at ramping Baron production to 500 units per year, with volume efficiencies driving the price down by half, I think it would be a sudden "explosive" hit. But then, at half it's current price, it would be stealing sales away from the Bonanza. Which is also already designed/certified/tooled. So the Bonanza price (and profit margin) would have to be halved (price would halve; profit would be reduced to zero). So, Beech is maintaining optimum PROFIT by offering the existing lineup- call it dinosaur, or whatever. You might hurt their feelings- but they're be crying- or laughing- all the way to the bank.

So, I wouldn't through the term "dinosaur" around so contemptously. Afterall, Cessna and Beech have survived. And delivered satisfying and safe airplanes. And created well-paying jobs for employees (not to say that Vern went to NM to get cheap labor. Wait a minute, I am saying that. But not to disparage the fine Eclipse employees in any way). And, Beech and Cessna DELIVER return on investment. If they didn't, they'd be sold (uh, wait a minute; they WERE sold, due to financial distress in the past (3). Textron owns Cessna, Onex owns Beech. It would NOT surprise me if Eclipse will soon go through a change of corporate ownership as well. Bring in the adult supervision !!!

Parenthetical babblings:

(1)I was particularly impressed with the Safire, on the low end;

(2)although not a startup, a "reinvigorated" Dornier with the 528/728/928 on the high end- until both went bankrupt- good designs, and even good companies, don't ensure financial success).

(3) The same is true for high-end companies; Hawker is also owned by Onex, Gulfstream is owned by General Dynamics, and Canadair and Learjet (also DeHavilland and Shorts) are owned by Bombardier).

bill e. goat said...

I think Vern did have a customer in mind- 10 years ago- the guys who could afford a Bonanza, but wanted a Baron; he'd kill two birds with one stone- the E-500-lite, or whatever it was called back then (I think the current version is about 40% heavier, and thirstier, and more expensive, than he planned on back then).

I'm not sure which came first- the chicken or the egg, with the upward spiral of weight and cost. But somehow, along came the next "customer" (or scam); air taxi operators. I think even this started out with good intentions, but over the years, has sort of morphed into a pretty fuzzy hypothetical purchaser (not to say they are not still lots of legit folks out there buying them for personal, or even occasional, business use).

I agree with you regarding the advantage of a "Smaller jet at $675,000 delivery in 2 years - tons of commonality". Indeed, I think that is what they should do- and probably SHOULD have started with. (And maybe, this is really a reincarnation of the original E-500-lite, from 10 years ago, with lessons learned, and even further cost reduction from commonality as you point out).

With all the hints about a future model, rather than product refinement, it appears Eclipse will go one of two ways: smaller or larger.

The problem with going smaller (and cheaper), is that I for one, think the air taxi business probably won't quite work out, and most of the purchasers of the E-500 will be individual owner/operators. To offer a smaller jet at half the price, will just divert sales of the E-500, to a lower-cost, and lower-profit, airplane.

That leaves going larger. I had expected maybe a legit 6 seat version of the E-500: bigger fuselage, more drag, more weight, more cost, but still the with advantage of commonality in many areas. Until the the mysterious PR/non-PR from a couple of months ago, where they claimed they antipate a glut of $2-3M airplanes. So, does that imply a $4M+ product? My guess would be yes, but it's just a guess. Maybe something along the lines of the Spectrum?

(I see even Spectrum is going more up-market: I was thinking of the "6-9 seat" Independence; now they are planning an even more up-market Freedom, a Honda-powered twin. How much paper vs real, tbd).

Hmmm- this is idle speculation, and NOT meant to agitate the owners-in-waiting, and not meant to fish for responses to such idle speculation. But if Eclipse were to go down-size, I wonder if they will be dumping the E-500 completely? Or keep it as a pseudo conversation piece to attract buyers, and then re-route them (upmarket, in the case of the Cessna Mustang; downmarket, in the case of the E-500- maybe throw in some kind of "trade up later" program. Maybe a low cost single, with ?Avidyne? I'm very puzzled about "going separate ways", but not until after 100+ shipsets are delivered??? This doesn't make sense, but then, not much about Eclipse as a corp. makes sense.

(One advantage of going up-market, it that by the time the new model is ready in a few years, the current owners might be ready to go upmarket too. Otherwise, it's "wait two years ang buy the new model- smaller and cheaper!" Not so appealing as "upgrade later to something even nicer").

PubGrubber said...

ATM and Bill-E

Many companies, analyze what they feel the market can handle, and will build a product to fill what they see as a void. Whilst at a very large Aerospace manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest, I worked on a program that did this. The program’s decision was to go with a product that filled what was deemed Middle of the Market, a 225 – 275 airplane with lower Operating costs. The main competitor decided the market was for a larger airplane. Time will tell which was the better decision.

Along with this, there was a study and program conducted by NASA, called SATS, below is the link.

This, IMHO, is where the concept for the VLJ and E-clips came to fruition. There is a hole in the existing transportation system, and it seemed that a small 6-seat jet would be the ideal product to fill this void. Does E-clips fill the void, I would say yes. Can the Air-Taxi also fit in this, I would say yes. Shall the two ever meet and succeed, only time will tell.

PubGrubber said...

A pontification from a small worm:

I’m not a pilot, but I like the plane, I think the concept and plan put forth was a valiant effort to bring something forward that would dazzle the public. Along the way, decisions were made that produced some set backs. Maybe they tried to do too much and tried to reinvent the wheel too many times simultaneously. Let’s face it, creating a new airplane from the ground up isn’t easy, issues will come up. For me, it’s not necessarily the issues that come up, but how they’re handled that matters. With the Pitot problem, I would have preferred to see the company voluntarily ground the fleet until it was fixed. The windshield issue, is Eclipse paying for the changeout or are the customers footing the bill.

Aviation is a serious business; mistakes that are made can cause the ultimate price. Beyond the hype, press releases, order book, aero-mods and all the other nit-noids that are discussed, at the root of it all, can this company design, produce, and deliver a safe, reliable airplane that fills a need for the market.

I have seen the word “dinosaur” thrown around recently, and agree with some of the words that Vern has used. Aerospace, from my experience, can be an antiquated and arrogant industry. “It’s always worked, so why change it” is something I’ve heard for the last 16 or so years. I have seen one company launch two new product lines while there, and the same issues, problems, and mistakes were made. They didn’t learn from the past, and we paid the price for that.

This is why I’m excited about the new companies that are coming to the market. Along with new products, they are trying to change the attitude of the industry; they’re trying to do things differently and learning from the past. Will they succeed I sincerely hope so.

A little revolution now and then is a good thing.

Karl Marx.

cj3driver said...

PubGruber said;

"...There is a hole in the existing transportation system, and it seemed that a small 6-seat jet would be the ideal product to fill this void. ..."


I don’t really see the market "hole" your talking about. If its an air taxi, what’s wrong with a Pilatus, TBM, Meridian. Many markets already use the Caravan or the up and comming Kodiak. All have substantially larger cabins, similar speeds on most “taxi” missions and lower operating costs.

If its a tiny twin-Jet, This is a luxury “rich-mans” toy. It has too many limitations to be a mass charter workhorse. The economics just are not there yet, and probably never will be.

The “hype” is a pipe-dream. There is nothing wrong with a dream, as long as you don’t take advantage of others in the process. In my opinion, the “Darkening of the Skies myth”, and the majority of the steam for the proponents of user-fee’s came as a result of this “hype”.

This is the penalty all of us in general aviation may have to pay for one mans dream.

airtaximan said...


we could debate the air taxi thing all day long... but in a nutshell

1- there are around 10,000 jets and 2,000 props in air taxi in the US today - part135. OF COURSE THERE'S A MARKET

2- the trips you are refering to as the "hole" in the transport market are the shorter ones. Somehow optimizind a plane for 35000 ft does not seem like a good idea for these short trips, to me, but hey - everyone has an a-hole too, right.

3- what does john Q public NEED for a viable air taxi? Lets take for granted the 12000 planes already providing service fill a market need - heck, they ARE providing air taxi service. I swear, they really ARE. What is needed to bring more folks into the market for air taxi?

Is it a jet... hmmm, many folks already fly the props, there are 10,000 of them. They fly a lot, and they fly a lot of people. SatsAIR has a few hindred little prop planes providing service in the Southeast all day long everyday...answer, its not a jet. This would make very little difference.

-I think it has more to do with the price of the service. If John- Q could afford to avoid the airlines, he would. For business, for pleasure...forever! Its a question of the cost.
-another aspect, all weather - it needs to be reliable. At lkeast nearly as reliable as the airlines.

What has e-clips delivered on these two very important aspects of filling the "hole"...



The aircraft acquisition price is derived from the fantasy marketsize associated with air taxi. $4, $3 per mile air taxi exists already - wake up. The little props are doing great at $500/hour service cost, and the hour-long stopover imposed by dayjet will erase any speed advantage the e-500 has on paper.

-if you have a service that is too high priced, and only 1 or 2 passengers show -Dayjet in eclips- you can use a Cirrus. Especially if you are going for the short trip - which they are.

-if you have a system whereby the price and service can attract more passengers, you obviously need a bigger plane. You would be better off with a plane that can compete with air travel distances and not car trip, too.

- there's a reason Dayjet is upping their rates to $4, and there's a reason Cirrus is doing great in SatsAir and there's a reason Bruce Holes from NASA now works at Dayjet. There's a reson they are doing per-jet at CJ hourly rates too.

- its just the wrong airplane -and the reason is the ack of market understanding and the fixation with the weeej22 operating system, I mean engine. The plane was designed around the engine... not around a market.

golfer said...


I thought you are DRIVEN by so much dislike for eclipse. I thought you lost your balance.

Your comments:
Had Eclipse taken the safe approach
Once Eclipse had established a revenue stream, .......
...get to the airplane Vern envisioned.

I was wrong. You have good intentions for Eclipse to succeed.

mouse said...


The Williams EJ22 engines didn't not "work out". The plane failed to meet the design weight for 700 Lb/thrust engines. Williams boosted the rating to 770 Lbs of thrust and still the EA-500 gained more and more weight making the EJ22 engines no longer viable. The decision to abandon the weights and seek out a more powerful engine was made by Eclipse about 3 months before we completed and rolled out the first plane...

mouse said...

Cessna understands that the key to certification and selling/delivering airplanes is A) build a plane that will pass the FAR's, and do it at a cost that allows for a nice profit and within reach of the customer. The other trick in the game is to not build too many or the value goes down and destroys the market... Cessna could crank out 10 planes a day if they wanted, but they don't want to hurt their sales, swamp and overload there suppliers, service centers, Etc. which would hurt their outstanding customer service/support.

Eclipse took bids for their windshields and transparencies based on 20,000 hours MTBF... Have to wonder how much the short interval replacements are costing them??? It all adds up to a small fortune that cannot ever be recovered. (Except by Ken, Mirage and Alexa)

mouse said...

SATS isn't really demonstrating a hole for a new plane, but rather a new mindset on how we fly/charge for the same old charter trip. Point to point into any suitable airfield instead of leasing the entire plane and crew for the day or double roundtrip/double deadhead trip.

The solution invloves matching the travelers needs with the available uplift closet to them. Taxi cabs have done it from day one... Drop off the pax and pull over and wait for a dispatch or go cue up at the closet pool of people in the neighborhood...

flyger said...

mouse said...

The Williams EJ22 engines didn't not "work out". The plane failed to meet the design weight for 700 Lb/thrust engines. Williams boosted the rating to 770 Lbs of thrust and still the EA-500 gained more and more weight making the EJ22 engines no longer viable. The decision to abandon the weights and seek out a more powerful engine was made by Eclipse about 3 months before we completed and rolled out the first plane...

To hear the Eclipse advocates relate this story, they claim the Williams engines were defective and that *forced* Eclipse to redesign the airplane for larger engines since they couldn't find small ones in that thrust class. That is, the plane would have been flying in customer's hands *years* ago if not for Williams incompetence.

What you describe is that Eclipse had a runaway weight issue on the design (which was predictable based on their orignal unrealistic specifications) and had to find another engine based on need for *more* thrust, not the lack of reliable operation. And clearly, even if the Williams engine was working, there are systems that were nowhere near ready years ago, and a lot that aren't ready even today.

Are we saying Williams was falsely accused as the cause of the years of redesign? They were just a cover story? Well, they are just a vendor, and we know what that is worth for Eclipse.

airtaximan said...

The decision to abandon the weights and seek out a more powerful engine was made by Eclipse about 3 months before we completed and rolled out the first plane...
... and they took the deposits "non-refunsdable" based on the first flight with the garbage engines, too...

the next stunt was PC, with Avidyne...they took hundreds of non-refundable progress payments, based on garbage avionics...

anyone see a pattern?

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

flyger said... Are we saying Williams was falsely accused as the cause of the years of redesign? They were just a cover story? Well, they are just a vendor, and we know what that is worth for Eclipse.

If that were the case, then Williams has a perfectly good, truly revolutionary, 80 lb 770 lb thrust engine sitting on the shelf. Why aren't they marketing that engine? Surely it would be of great value to many new aircraft designs. Well, get it right - it didn't work. Williams couldn't get it to work reliably. Williams couldn't get the components to withstand the rigors of normal operation. If this is incorrect, then Williams would have received the Collier trophy, and Eclipse would never have been considered. Plain and simple, Williams did fail on this one.

airtaximan said...


funny how this air taxi thing works, isn't it.

At $3-$4 per seat mile (conventional charter rates today, really) the market for private air service is pretty small. Airline service is in the pennies per seat mile and is around 750 million trips/year now.

Seems like air taxi needs to become less expensive for more folks to show - Satsair is doing this. The equipment is a prop, with 2 passenger seats, at $1 per seat mile or so, but they don't have the risk, you do - bring to passenger, its a buck, bring one its $2.

Seems like a good way to lower the cost of air taxi is add passengers. Seems like average loads of more than 2 or 3 passengers is required... seems like this is not achievable in the e-clips.

Seems to me the plane wasdesigned as a technology demonstrator, for new engines, and new computer based avionics, which are both in the garbage. Seems like FSW was another BS demontrator technology that became a distraction, with no real benefit in the end.

Seems like none of this has, or had any real value for a customer. No one cares about rivit versus a weld, smaller engines, or computers in the middle of the whole plane - no customer, anyway - certainly not a cusotmer who bases a business on reliability and durability. These "technologies" are worthless in the real world. They have found their way into the garbage, cost $1 billion and took 9 years.

None of the enable a lower cost, highly reliable aircraft - none.

Its the product of well-meaning (I'm being nice) amateurs.

They make a lot of statements about how great they are - but the plane is falling apart, and it really costs a lot more to build than anyone can imagine - they NEED 500 per year to break even, and at todays system costs, low rate production volume and all the IOU's... the plane and the program are a big failure.

But ask any dinosauer - THAT's what you should expect when you are developing a plane based on unproven technology.

From where I sit, the entire plane is analogous to the EJ-22 engine. A technology demonstrator project, not ready for prime time, and not something that should be in the hands of operators.

As they off lod the "new" and go with proven systems (COTS) for the most part, they are transitioning to a product. The technology failed and went to the garbage.

Eventually, they may have a product. It will be a niche product, it will be much more expensive, and it will have "teething" problems for years.

I suspect the company that produced a technology demonstrator and sold it, and tried to delive it, and is changing the technology out for proven systems, has made a lot more of these errors than we can see today. Just a hunch based on their unabashed appetite for risk... and their current plan to replace the miscalculated risk with orther parts, systems and redesigns.

.. just a hunch...

airtaximan said...


the question becomes, "how could anyone who knew what they were doing, go with that technology demonstrator engine, and base a whole program on it?"


"when did Vern know the engines would never make it?"

.. if you think he realized this after first flight, claiming victory and taking the deposit money... well, I guess you can believe anything you want.

.. but, you would have to believe that Vern just flushed a ton of cash for the development of the engine (he paid Williams, this should tell you what THEY thought of the technology) and left them alone for years without any reports or status. He would have had to have planned his whole aircraft around them, but just never bothered to check how things were coming along.

They would have had to have magically just attached two engine to their plane and said to the pilot "have a nice flight".

Same for Avidyne. After 8 years and millions - "we plugged in the avidyne system and well...shucks, these avionics don't really work..."

Sounds like a well run aviation non-manufacturer to me... but if you want to believe that's what happend...


Ken Meyer said...

AT wrote,

"Same for Avidyne. After 8 years and millions - 'we plugged in the avidyne system and well...shucks, these avionics don't really work...'"

You have a source for that, AT?

I think your version is nowhere near correct. The problem was Avidyne's inability to provide a full-featured product in a reasonable timeframe. The limited product they delivered works fine--"aw shucks, these avionics don't work" is flatout wrong.

If Eclipse hadn't cancelled the Avidyne contract, naysayers would no doubt ask "Why didn't they terminate the Avidyne contract instead of continuing to deliver hundreds of planes without full avionics capability? How could they be that dumb?"

Your use of gross inaccuracy to make your point suggests you cannot make it by using legitimate facts.


Gunner said...

Ken said:
"If Eclipse hadn't cancelled the Avidyne contract"

Ummm, who told you that Eclipse canceled Avidyne and not the other way around?

In the interests of "keeping it real", source please.

ThisWillHurt said...

Ummm, who told you that Eclipse canceled Avidyne and not the other way around?

Gunner is right.

Gunner said...

Expect the counter to your link to be, "Where's the proof that Avidyne canceled? I don't see that in the article."

See proof that Ken ISN'T wrong (again). Ipso Facto, Eclipse must have given Avidyne the boot, since everyone in aviation would be honored to do business with this stellar example of business expertise and corporate integrity.

EclipseOwner387 said...

Have you guys seen this?

flyger said...

Ken Meyer said...

I think your version is nowhere near correct. The problem was Avidyne's inability to provide a full-featured product in a reasonable timeframe. The limited product they delivered works fine--"aw shucks, these avionics don't work" is flatout wrong.

Then why did you celebrate the avionics switch if the avionics did "work"? You proclaimed the change as "good news".

If Eclipse hadn't cancelled the Avidyne contract, naysayers would no doubt ask "Why didn't they terminate the Avidyne contract instead of continuing to deliver hundreds of planes without full avionics capability? How could they be that dumb?"

I think *both* questions are valid. Why did they choose to make a proprietary avionics system, and why did they stick with Avidyne so long?

Yes, how could they be so dumb?

Your use of gross inaccuracy to make your point suggests you cannot make it by using legitimate facts.

Can you make *one* post without a put down?

flyger said...

EclipseOwner387 said...

Have you guys seen this?

Brilliant! How else can the debug AvioNG and make money at the same time! Maybe customers can "load" this into their airplanes?

I bet more of the plane works in the sim than in real life.

I find this *very* amusing!

airtaximan said...


for a guy who is so "detail oriented" (being nice here), you seem to be perfectly happy calling that crippled piece of junk a "jet" -

the point here was that E-clips took 8 years and a ton of cash to "discover" after they told you and a few hundred of your religious-buddies to pony up $900,000, that Avidyne was being replaced. You would need to believe they had a good faith belief the system woudl work for them, until just after they got your cash.

-same goes for the -ej22

Either they are completely incompetant, pay no attention to the companies developing new technologies for them, or they lied.

drop, stop and roll....

use your head, Ken. In any case, the word "screwed" is used to describe them...

bill e. goat said...

Redtail and Flyger bring up an interesting question, and ATM provides an answer: Eclipse paid for (at least some) of the EJ-22 development cost. I'm not quite sure how the product was supposed to evolve, but I believe NASA funded part of the engine under the 1990's GAPS program (General Aviation Propulsion System).

As I see more and more projects, poorly planned and executed, I become less giddy about technology for technology's sake, I believe that this was just another monumental abysmal NASA failure. (Like their other GAPS program: electronic ignition and fuel injection. Like Jap cars and motorcycles had 20 years earlier). Can you say international space station (1)(Wikipedia estimates $130B total; or just say 1000% overbudget, and 500% behind schedule, and much reduced capability from original plan. No wonder Vern is so chummy with the feds- kindred spirits).

In the same vein, thanks to Pubgrubber for the SATS link, I'll come back to that one later.

Anyway, the engine was paid for by some foggy combination of NASA, Williams, and Eclipse funds. As I understand it, NASA funded the program, uh, but never required a flight test. Because, the story goes, Eclipse agreed to use it. NASA considered that to fulfill the intent of the GAPS jet program- to create a light weight, low cost jet engine for the commercial market. Maybe they should have used a little extra thought, and stipulated that it had to be a working engine. Whatever, the feds bailed (after proclaiming victory), and figured Eclipse would pick up the tab for making the damn thing work.

The only thing “revolutionary” about the E-500 is the engine, and to screw the competition, Vern wanted exclusive rights to the engine. Williams wanted to sell thousands of engines, Vern promised a market, so Williams agreed to grant exclusive right to Eclipse, in exchange for Eclipse funding, and presumably an Eclipse guarantee to use Williams engines exclusively.

Why did Eclipse dump Williams? Good question. Did the Eclipse outgrow it- even before the first-first flight (2002)? I'm not sure- this is pretty screwy- like ALL of Eclipse's machinations. What IS sure, is the first-first flight was a stunt by Vern to lock in the customer deposits. Much like the second-first flight, in 2004, was a stunt to trigger some investor funding.

Why didn't Vern just let Williams have 18 months to develop the EJ-22??? Maybe he knew even if it did work, it couldn't keep up with the weight growth of the airframe. Williams isn't a bunch of yahoos- I think they could have got the engine to work, at least up to the original spec. As it is now, I believe Eclipse has some sort of lock on the rights to the engine, even if they never use it. Your tax dollars at work- thank you very much, NASA morons (2).

Regarding Avidyne, the blog had a lot of discussion a few months ago. I think the prevailing view was, Avidyne had been working for free on the Eclipse suite since 2003, in hopes of making some money on volume deliveries. My gut feel is after a couple of years of non-performance by Eclipse, they scaled back spending, expecting Eclipse to fold- for Avidyne, why through good money after bad?

I suspect Vern was too cheap to foot the bill for truly adequate product development by Avidyne (and Williams)- just look at the idiotic, pathetically under scoped and unrealistic development and certification plan (and manufacturing, and QC efforts), and I think the customers will find, pathetically under scoped customer support facilities (witness, the idiotically mismanaged training program). Disruptive technology? Hey Vern, here's some disruptive input- get a clue! Better yet, Board of Directors: Get a clue- and a new CEO!

(I think the BOD is afraid of sacking Vern- that would make the enterprise look troubled, and they are desperately hoping he can sell some more snake oil to other gullible types, to keep fresh cash coming in).

(1) Credit where credit is due. The ISS does keep other countries “on board” with the USA, and that serves to stymie Russian and Chinese power projection. As a tool of foreign influence, it makes a valuable contribution, which is the ONLY thing the civilian pace program has ever really been anyway, idealistic pretensions aside, but a valuable tool. Could the money have been better spent? Well,...Just think how many 200 ft statues of Cheney holding a 6-pack and a shotgun we could have built).

(2) Let's go to the moon- or Mars! Just send money- don't worry, we'll tell you when to stop. Funny (not ha-ha funny) how NASA seems to have researchers for everything, astrophysics, life science, materials, aerodynamics. Everything EXCEPT finance. NASA ought to be called the agency of self-promotion.

Pretty cranky stuff for a beautiful Sunday- no more blogging for me today- just gets me aggravated to see Vern pissing away time and money while pandering for more money, while pawning deficient platforms, all the while he KNOWS they are deficient. If he had the guts, he'd just say “time out for 8 months- Eclipse is going to get this right the first time” (well, make that the second or third or fourth time). Reality, Honesty?- Not the cup of tea for P.T. Raburn.

(Hey, he's got a pitcher of Koolaid though. Mix in some Avio-NG for 2007Q3 just to make it go down r-e-a-l smooth).

mouse said...

Avidyne got their belly full of changes from Eclipse. The original requirements were solid and defined, and then they changed constantly. Think of Vern as Charles Durning in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, dancing around the courthall steps.

Eclipse failed Avidyne and not the other way around. Never have so many been screwed by so few in such a short time... er, long time, er... All the time.

Avidyne has their issues, however they make the most intuitive system on the market. They met every single Eclipse requirement several times.

Again, if Avidyne were really at fault like Vern likes to point out, how come dozens of airframes were not piling up awaiting box stuffing? The lead times alone with make it mandatory to keep building the airframes, but nope.. no mass piles to be found...

Hmmmm.... Very Transparent, eh?

mouse said...

To those who understand the brilliance of NASA and Bush to commit to going to the moon and beyond...

It has nothing to do with trip or the destination but rather the journey.

If it were not for the work in trying to get to the moon we now have LCD's, LED's, Digital readouts, $1.50 Calculators and watches, miniature computers and electronics, Etc.

College doesn't prepare you for the real world by practing the lessons in the book or listening to lectures, rather it's learned from the studying and trying to figure it all out...

PS. It's still a duck...