Where’s the Beef?
As one examines the details of the Eclipse program, it becomes increasingly apparent that there is little remaining that differentiates the acft from any other light jet except for the price point and physical size, and many believe that the price is not sustainable.
Lets take a look:
1. Engine: Pratt & Whitney – any competitor can purchase substantially the same engine.
2. Avio NG: COTS technology – any competitor can purchase substantially the same equipment.
3. Airframe: designed by EAC, but manufactured by Fuji and various other suppliers who can supply substantially the same functionality to others; there is nothing in the design that would indicate a significant, defendable cost advantage.
4. FSW: used on a limited basis, and expected overall cost savings is small as a % of total cost. EAC may have gained some specialized know how in FSW but as others have suggested this is not central to success.
5. Training: apparently qualified vendors, but likely higher cost than FSI due apparently lower volume.
6. Service centers: no apparent meaningful competitive advantage here; will have a higher cost position than Cessna unless comparable service center volumes are achieved.
7. Deice system: any competitor can purchase substantially the same parts from the same vendors..
8. Other systems: perhaps some innovation, but not clear that there is a meaningful life cycle cost advantage.
What I am looking for are large hunks of innovative, defendable technology which drive substantial, sustainable competitive advantage, especially lower costs and/or outstanding performance. So far, this advantage is not apparent.
Contributed by whytech who later added:
Now, I'll praise Elcipse to bring some balance to all this.
I do believe that the concept of the EA500 as advanced in 1998 was only microinches short of brilliant, but not particularly defendable. Where Eclipse could have gained some real competitive advantage would have been to take a stealth approach to this program, and execute flawlessly on development and production, getting to market in 2003 with a fully functioning airplane.
Instead, they spent a disproportionate amount of time trumpeting their cleverness to the world and collecting awards, and have shot themselves in virtually every part of their anatomy in executing the development and manufacturing program. As a result, they have compromised away most, if not all, of the competitive advantage they were clever enought to dream up. As is often the case where technologies are widely "shared," competitive advantage oftens comes from superior execution, rather than brilliant innovation.