In the last post, flyger questioned the Vern's wisdom in choosing to develop and certify so many new aspects for the Eclipse. In a later comment he asked the question, "Why did they choose to make a proprietary avionics system, and why did they stick with Avidyne so long?"
Today in a follow up rumination from bill e. goat:
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 throw 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.