Saturday, September 22, 2007

Eclipse Aviation Turns To Automotive Industry For Inspiration

Sep 21, 2007

By Joseph C. Anselmo and Anthony L. Velocci, Jr., Aviation Week

Albuquerque, N.M.

Nearly a year after winning FAA type certification, Eclipse Aviation CEO Vern Raburn casts blame in a lot of directions when asked why his company has been able to deliver barely 50 small jets-far short of the hundreds he had forecast. His suppliers let him down, he says, calling the performance of a recently discarded avionics system "just really, really, really bad." Some of his managers fell down on the job, failing to grasp the complexities of mass producing airplanes. "They talked the talk, but they could not walk the walk. They had no concept of what it meant."

But then Raburn points the finger back at himself, acknowledging that he oversold the revolutionary idea that airplanes could be produced in big batches as efficiently as personal computers (he made his name in the software industry in the 1980s). "I didn't have an appreciation for the difficulty of ensuring that all this stuff was built in conformity," he says. "The biggest mistake I made was assuming the supply chain would function with the same efficiency and reliability as it does in the technology business."

Forget, for a moment, the long-running debates over whether there's a market for thousands of very light jets (VLJs) or how many of Eclipse's 2,600 orders will see fruition. The company's immediate challenge remains proving it can mass produce its two-engine, four-passenger jets with consistent quality.

The few dozen 500s that Eclipse has managed to deliver are falling short of their promised functionality, thanks in part to a last-minute switch in avionics suppliers. GPS isn't fully enabled, there's no approach mode in autopilot, and the avionics don't have a flight management system. Raburn says the integration of four systems components-which he declines to name-is still failing at "massively unacceptable rates." He estimates it will take another five months to iron out all of the problems."

Half the challenge is designing an airplane, but the other half is building a line that can manufacture them at a consistent quality level," says Ed Iacobucci, president/CEO of DayJet, a Florida-based air taxi venture that is Eclipse's biggest customer. "Frankly, some of the first airplanes were half hand-built. They didn't have all the processes nailed down."

Time is of the essence for Eclipse. The Albuquerque, N.M., company has raised nearly $1 billion in equity and debt since 1998-backers include Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates-and investors are eager to see a profit. In June, the collapse of a $200-million investment deal with a hedge fund fueled rumors of a possible bankruptcy. Raburn insists the 1,550-employee company was months away from having to shut down and says it has now raised enough capital to reach profitability-if it performs to plan. With a list price of $1.6 million, the VLJ industry's lowest, meeting that plan will require delivering 600 aircraft a year just to break even, meaning Eclipse's current production rate of about one aircraft per day must be doubled by year-end. Current plans call for a increasing yet again to three fully assembled aircraft per day by the end of 2008.

Meanwhile, the nascent VLJ market that Raburn pioneered when he began taking aircraft orders in 2000 is growing more crowded. Cessna's Citation Mustang entered service earlier this year, Embraer's Phenom 100 is expected to follow in mid-2008, and Honda Aircraft Co. is on track to receive FAA certification of its HondaJet in 2010 (see p. 58).

Part of Eclipse's challenge is to create a predictable production system with repeatable processes that places much more responsibility on suppliers than aircraft programs historically have-not unlike what Boeing is attempting to do with its new 787 airliner. (That too is a work in progress.) The Eclipse 500's wings come from Japan, the nose from Chile, the engines and landing gear from Canada, the tail from the U.K. and the windshield from the U.S. All the pieces are shipped to Albuquerque and assembled by Eclipse. Raburn says the "vast majority" of his suppliers are on schedule and cost. But "some took the attitude, 'Just build it, push it out the door and [Eclipse] will catch any problems at the factory.' That introduces massive inefficiencies to the supply chain."

The problems are hardly new. Five years ago, after the Eclipse 500's first flight, the company had to scrap the aircraft's original engine because of poor performance. Pratt & Whitney Canada was signed to develop the 900-lb.-thrust 610F, but the program was set back more than two years. Then early this year-four months after the jet received FAA type certification-Eclipse parted ways with its main avionics supplier, Avidyne, replacing the Massachusetts company with five new vendors for the jet's Avio Total Aircraft Integration System (AW&ST Mar. 19/26, p. 109).

"Those kind of changes will just wreak havoc on a supply chain, especially if you're trying to set up for a modular kind of build," says Pete Wiese, director of CSC Consulting's aerospace and defense practice. Raburn says Avidyne's performance was poor; Avidyne did not return calls seeking comment.

A recent visit to Eclipse's assembly facilities next to Albuquerque's airport yields signs of an operation that is getting its act together. More than 50 aircraft are in various stages of assembly, and the pace of deliveries unquestionably is speeding up.

To revamp its production processes, Eclipse sought help from experts in the hypercompetitive automotive industry. In March, it hired Todd Fierro, a seasoned plant manager at the Ford Motor Co., as vice president of manufacturing operations. Fierro quickly retained The Productivity Team (TPT), an industrial engineering consultancy that helps high-volume manufacturers apply Lean and Six Sigma principles to accelerate throughput and, as a by-product, improve quality. The second-largest firm of its kind in Detroit, TPT counts among its clients automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and many of their suppliers.

Following a three-month study of Eclipse's production operation, TPT concluded that much of the work it has done in the auto industry was immediately transferable, according to Steve Nolan, TPT's program manager-in-residence at Eclipse. "The goal is for Eclipse to deliver product quicker without ever losing sight that quality is paramount," he says.

Step One was to gain a full understanding of Eclipse's current production processes and identify constraints. The assembly floor was reconfigured to a linear flow model that involves kitting on two parallel production lines, versus the previous discontinued flow manufacturing Eclipse had been using. Revamped processes have been rolled out in phases and will continue to be introduced through the end of 2007. Aircraft fuselages move from one station to the next, with problems eliminated at the source or stopped from moving to the next work station.

The change is significantly speeding up production and yielding greater capacity, with little or no corresponding increase in investment in infrastructure. Since TPT's involvement, capacity has quadrupled and is forecast to double in the next phase from what Eclipse has now.

The challenge now is to sustain the more efficient processes that have been put in place. In addition to working closely with Eclipse in the implementation of the new production, TPT also is working in a similar fashion with Eclipse's 10 "highest-impact" suppliers so they don't become impediments to the overarching goal of the jet reaching its optimum production rate.

"The Eclipse production system is analogous to any other high-volume producer," says David Kunselman, president and founder of TPT. Both he and Nolan have been struck by the interest and engagement of the workforce."

This to me was a very pleasant surprise," says Nolan. "The people on the assembly lines have the spirit of continuous improvement, which is very important. If they follow and sustain the production processes that are being put in place, nothing should stop them from reaching volumes no other airframe OEM currently is achieving."

Adds Kunselman, "It's the same approach we've used with automotive companies. At Eclipse, we have a very clear line of sight of three finished aircraft per day by the end of 2008."

Even as it increases collaboration with vendors, Eclipse is trying to minimize the shock of supply chain disruptions by dual-sourcing more components and continuing to shed suppliers that aren't meeting schedule or quality requirements. Fierro says that if a vendor delivers a defective part, "we'll ship it back at their cost."

Iacobucci, who launched DayJet's air taxi service earlier this month with 12 Eclipse 500s on hand, says the "squawks" in the aircraft being delivered-incomplete avionics, air conditioning problems, wings that leak fuel and cosmetic problems-have declined from 74 in the first jet to fewer than 30. "The deliveries coming now are a totally different airplane," he says.

DayJet has firm orders for another 297 Eclipses over the next two years and placeholders for more than 1,000 through 2011. Iacobucci says he still has faith in Eclipse, even though the production problems forced DayJet to delay its service launch by two months. "We kind of figured there would be some slippage," he says. "I've never seen a new airplane that's been delivered that hasn't had one form of problem or another."

Resolving quality problems and making sure servicing and pilot training networks are in place will be crucial. Gerald Bernstein, a business aviation consultant with the Velocity Group in San Francisco, recently flew on a DayJet test run and was impressed how much room there was for his 6-ft., 5-in. frame. "I haven't heard any stories of mass cancellations, and they're going to market sooner than Embraer and HondaJet," Bernstein says. "So at this point it's a matter of how happy the new users are with the aircraft. If they say it was worth the wait, people will forget" the initial problems.

But skeptics continue to question Eclipse's financial assumptions. "They're selling a product at below the cost of production," argues Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia, a longtime critic. "They've justified it to investors on the basis of impossible production rates. There will be a day of reckoning."

For his part, Raburn, who as a teenager got his pilot's license before his first car, vacillates between contrition and defiance. "I feel pretty good about the way Eclipse has been run," he says. "I don't feel that I need to apologize to anybody for what has happened." And he hasn't lost his entrepreneurial streak, unveiling a new "Eclipse Concept Jet" at July's Oshkosh (Wis.) air show to test the emerging market for single-engine personal jets.

But he has toned down the rhetoric about running Eclipse like a technology business, touting his expertise as Microsoft's 18th employee and a senior executive at Lotus and Symantec.

In an interview last year, Raburn boasted that Eclipse's just-in-time business model meant it would build an airplane in four days and get paid by a customer 20 days before it had to pay suppliers for the parts, a practice famously employed by Dell with personal computers (AW&ST Apr. 24, 2006, p. 72). "If that's called a dot.com manager, then I plead guilty." Today, he's more likely to compare Eclipse to an automotive line than a computer operation.

Thanks to airtaximan for the heads up on this one.

185 comments:

Stan Blankenship said...

atm,

Where was this published so we can credit the source?

andy said...

Stan,
Aviation Week

airtaximan said...

aviation week..
acviationweek.com Sept 21st


just search on google news for "eclipse aviation", its the first one... provide the link if you wish.

BTW, not my favorite quote, but one that could ne MINE:
"But skeptics continue to question Eclipse's financial assumptions. "They're selling a product at below the cost of production," argues Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia, a longtime critic. "They've justified it to investors on the basis of impossible production rates. There will be a day of reckoning."

My favorite:

"Today, he's more likely to compare Eclipse to an automotive line than a computer operation"

- Call me when he realizes he's in the aviaiton business... it will take wnother year, AND it will dawn on him, Ken and the other die-hards, that this is not a new industry - its an old industry, with legacy markets, products, customers and off course realities.

Funny thing about calling old markets "new"... somwhow, THIS is the key to failure. It is a fundamental lack of experience and respect. Respect for the customer, supplier, industry norms and values.

That is BTW, how you spend 10 years and hundreds of millions playing with yourself to develop new avionics and engines...

IMHO

NBAA is going to be fun. I heard someone has placed an order for 500 "conventional jets" not VLJs to compete in the air taxi arena.

To me, this is a no brainer.

airtaximan said...

"Any bets on when they will deliver 600 aircraft in a twelve month period?"

YES... never. HEre's why.

1- 50 in 18 months to 600 in 12 months involves a learning curve that is impossible. Sorry to tell you...except if its computers, or cars (maybe) but in our industry - sorry, might as well smoke crack and use that as your next excuse.

2- at 600 per year, they ARE out of customers. As the article, and I have said, Dayjet 1/2 or more of the orders and options, does not agree to take their planes beyone perhaps 300, until 2010 or beyond. They ARE out of customers, delivery positions and cars. They played their cards, it was brought to light their "orders and options book" is 1/2 dayjet... if they accomplish their plane, they are out of business...period.
3- they won't accomplish their plan. They never have, and they will miss again by $450 million per year in equity required and 1/2 their projected delivery volume.

Sad, true, obvious and Vern still finger pointing and NOT realizing he is in aviation - an older mature industry with Long lead times and fivclke customers...many of which will pay 2 or 3x for a HONDA or Phenome or Cessna.

I think he thought he'd be the only game in town, and he aint...except of course for the $1.15 million Dayjets he can sell all day long to buddy-Ed.

Ken, happy with your investment in Ed? His planes cost $500k less than yours, and you paid for his, so far... how does it feel?

I know, you do not see it, believe it, acknowledge it or deal with it. Die hard at its best.

Stan Blankenship said...

andy/ATM,

Thanks to both, I don't receive my AvWk copy until Tuesday. Kansas still relies on the Pony Express.

fly in the ointment said...

A Modern Parable

A Japanese company ( Toyota ) and an American company (General Motors) decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River . Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile.

The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing.

Feeling a deeper study was in order, American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion.

They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the 'Rowing Team Quality First Program' with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rower. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year's racing team was out-sourced to India ..

Sadly, The End.

Here's something else to think about: Ford has spent the last thirty years moving all its factories out of the US , claiming they can't make money paying American wages.

TOYOTA has spent the last thirty years building more than a dozen plants inside the US . The last quarter's results:

TOYOTA makes 4 billion in profits while Ford racked up 9 billion in losses.

Ford folks are still scratching their heads.

IF THIS WASN'T SO SAD IT MIGHT BE FUNNY

airtaximan said...

FITO,

Vern's idols...

One day he will wake up...

He will say:

"but I was rght regarding tablets and SLATE"

"but I was right, regarding leaving Microsoft, at the point the began to really increse shareholder value"

"but, I was right regarding the Vulcan Ventures money I blew..."

"but I wa right to use the computer indstry as a model for the aircraft industry"

"but I was right to switch to the automotive industry as a model for the aircraft industry"

"but I was right to base my program on a NASA demo engine"

"but I was right to bas my avionics on a completely new system from Avidyne, where I was on the board..."

"but I was right to switch to PWC"
"but I was right to swtich to COTS for the Avionics"

"but I was right to give Dayjet 1420 positions...."

at some point, he's got to admit, "I was wrong", no?

At THAT point, we can begin to count the "rights".... they will be corrections of mistakes that cost $1.Xbillion, and are the result of arrogance and the lack of recognition of a lot of talent and expereince in a mature industry that's been around for decades.

airtaximan said...

"They talked the talk, but they could not walk the walk. They had no concept of what it meant." Vern Raburn.

morror mirror on the wall....

airtaximan said...

Guner,
"OTOH, if he reads this Blog, he must believe The Faithful think he's just doing a bang-up job."

That's the most intersting part of this story.. how ANYONE could believe. Let alone wealthy, experienced folks... Ken, aside of course.

I keep thinking "what does it take to close your eyes to the realities of this miserable excuse for a jet program, miserable excuse for an air taxi plane, and give this guy your money?"

In Ken, we have an answer... but it aint pretty. Its like getting a crwoned beauty queen from a pable of blind judges - who cares?

One would think that as time goes by, and the progress is so framatic as repoarted here by the die-hards, the Press, who have been fed tons of cash in ads, would fall into place and become MORE on side. Nope.

Bottom line - its a tupid plane, made for a market without any choice - but choiices showed up, and this jet is so marginal, the comparisons are between a turboprop designed and manufactured for conventional rate and conventional pilots.

Back to reality, the e-clips plan required 10,000 planes over 15 years to make money. There's competition, and the buyer has chosen planes at 2 and 3 times the price... all too ofetn for anyone to consider e-clips seriously, nless of course, they fail to see the risks, and they fail to have the money required to pay for a jet from a reputable manufacturer.

someone said post mortum - this is a little dramatic... but not by much.

If JT shows at NBAA, its basically the fat lady singing...

airtaximan said...

european reality for air taxi...

"The network of airport pairs linked by business aviation has
100,000 links, three times as many links as the scheduled
network. It carries much less traffic and, for some parts of
the industry, the aircraft fly empty 40% of the time on
positioning flights."

This is going to be tough... wanna knwo why? Options...like the train...

Reality bites.

Ringtail said...

Come on critics, lets get back on topic. I haven't read the blog as much for a few days but it sounds like Stan needs to rename it the CJ/TBM boys club.

Best arguments have been from Hummer,Ken, Alexa and 421. Crtics are losing steam

Ringtail said...

Gunner said "The Faithful think he's just doing a bang-up job"

* 50 planes delivered
* PC
* 2 planes per day production rate
* 2000+ order book
* Concept jet
* aeromods cut in
* service centers open
* training plan on track
* Dayjet has 135 certificate in hand
* other 135's are making revenue flights daily
* etc, etc, etc.

I would say he is Gunner.

Ringtail said...

Oh yea, I forgotto mention that I was at a Citation Service Center the other day. You should have heard some of the bad apples there bad mouthing Cessna. I guess that happens with the holy-ier than thou Cessna also?

airtaximan said...

See ringtail for drug induced stupor...

Amazing.

reality bites:

* 50 planes delivered
- its taken opve a tear and around 1400 man-years to produce these...where do I sign for the celebratin? BTW they are all incomplete

* PC- TBD, for the finished version, right? When was PC for the finsihed A/C?

* 2 planes per day production rate - not even close, sorry. Even if you are correct, the 50 planes were aterted wel over a year ago, and have taken a year for 50 to be "delivered incomplete" try, try again...

* 2000+ order book - 1100 or more not avaialble for delivery before 1010... nice try again...

* Concept jet - thanks to Ken and the others for financing this plane instaed of financing their parts...do you really think this is an accomplishement?

* aeromods cut in - yes, after 10 years, they were able to modify the plane to almost meet the revised and revised again performance claims. - gimme a break.

* service centers open - so, they took government money and build some hangars...for what? Pop the cork again...

* training plan on track - you mean, revised and revised again, and later than late, right? Where's United? Where's UND? You are a joke on this one. FTD installed on pedestals? After all the prmises? Unreal.

* Dayjet has 135 certificate in hand - true -they have official launch in October, months after the revised launch date, again and again. They were supposed to fly their first paying customer this week...what happend? Is that not the launch according to their $200 or 99$ members?

* other 135's are making revenue flights daily - how do you know this? I'd like to know how many revenue flights?

* etc, etc, etc. There's no etc... ti all bad news from here..

Sorry buddy - find a better program to flog

Ringtail said...

Airtaxi

you are really grabbing for something! At least you are not trying to convince yourself you have the right plane for yourself like others on the blog do. You guys need to look 5 years down the road.

airtaximan said...

"Nearly a year after winning FAA type certification, Eclipse Aviation CEO Vern Raburn casts blame in a lot of directions when asked why his company has been able to deliver barely 50 small jets-far short of the hundreds he had forecast."

Anyone who wants to call me a LIAR for stating the obvious that e-clips havs taken a year or MORE (check out MOUSE'S info that they started the first fifty in Q1-06 or earlier... san read it and weep.

You want to believe it ain't so - sut the reality is - you've been had, and you've taek up the tail pipe, and you apparently like it.

You finianced this shenanigan, and you will get nothing for your money - money you apparenly value so much you bought the cheapest advertised jet, from a no name start up, with no track record, except broken prpmises and delays.

Read, weep.

airtaximan said...

ringmaster,

Stick to the circus... this is aviation.

It is not me grabbing, its reality biting you in the arse.

Wake up... you are way off in your prmotional analysis... the press is honing in, and you are being proven wrong.

One day, when the smoke clears, you'll see that Vern truly finally understands, this aint no computer, aint no software and aint no car.

Its a plane, and unfortunately, his trackrecord predeeds him even in the markets he claims he knows.

He's now dabbling in aviation - and as he clearly states - he's been way off base for years, and is now re-focusing on the car industry to improve.

Glad for y'all he has no friend in bio-tech. Oh, yeah - I thin he tried that already, too...

airtaximan said...

OH SHIT!

"Part of Eclipse's challenge is to create a predictable production system with repeatable processes..."

AND THEY DO NOT HAVE THIS? AND THEY HAVE A PRODUCTION CERTIFICATE?

- ARE YOU JOKING?

All the pieces are shipped to Albuquerque and assembled by Eclipse. Raburn says the "vast majority" of his suppliers are on schedule and cost. But "some took the attitude, 'Just build it, push it out the door and [Eclipse] will catch any problems at the factory.' That introduces massive inefficiencies to the supply chain."

ONCE AGAN, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
- build it, push it out the door, and e-clips will catch the problems... I guess the idea of on-sight QC is foreign to them? WHat century are they living in?

This is probably the dumbest excuse I've read yet. In fact, Vern would do better to just fess up and say "we're demanding a lot of changes from our suppliers, and in fact, we issue drawings so often that theyr parts are obsolete by the tme we receive them. We are working to finish the plane and comeplete the design so we can finally have some flow in our line and quality conformity in our production system. For now we are building a lot of planes by hand.. just to asuade the critics that we have no clue. At least we can build planes the old fashined way, right?"

Pathetic.

gadfly said...

Stan

You mentioned earlier “Pony Express”. ‘Interesting comment. They lasted about a year and a half . . . Spring 1860 to Fall 1861. It makes me think how history continues to repeat itself. It was a great idea, but just too little, too expensive, and got plowed under by other events and technology . . . just as they were working out the “bugs”. And today, in Florida, we have “Pegasus Express” . . . someone else can fill in the blanks . . . !

gadfly

airtaximan said...

Raburn boasted that Eclipse's just-in-time business model meant it would:
-1- build an airplane in four days
-2- get paid by a customer 20 days
-3- before it had to pay suppliers for parts

REALITY (between the lines, Ken):
-1- get non-refundable progress payments from hundreds of customers (except Dayjet) based on building a plane in 4 days
-2- get paid by customers 30 days before it had to pay suppliers for parts for Dayjets planes and the Con-jet
-3- before it had to order anothe 50 planes worth of parts to rime the equity markets based on "imporvements" n production. The last claim was "we have 57 planes n production, some of which have yet to be delivered, still... I guess for those taking notes, 50 planes seems to be the right number "in producton"


I'm curious...if there are 50 in production and there was number 72 just entering a month ago... and around 40 planes already delivered of fifty in production a year ago...

anyone else want to try to jive the math?

My guess is, there are really around 20-30 in production...and the shit hits the fan in November/December. Someone's going to get really pissed of if this is not the true number.

BTW, Vern and Ken, we'll keep track. 1 per day means there better be a lot of damn planes coming out very soon... and then we'll watch if the line grinds to a hault - in November/December.

History is a funny thing...

hummer said...

Yesterday morning in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida a Beech 18 took off with a load of freight and full fuel. The pilot was quite experenced and lost and engine on takeoff. Got to about 350 ft. and things got really busy in that cockpit. Those large radial engines cause a great deal of drag and feathering the prop during an engine out emergency procedure gets really interesting very quickly.
Been there, done that and got the tee shirt.
Fortunately he put it down beside the highway.
I believe we've all seen the pictures on tv how he is sitting with the cockpit peeled away in a stupor.
Probably thanking God the avgas did not ignite.
But the point I want to make is what would have happened with center line thrust on the Eclipse at gross at that airport losing an engine?
What would have happened with a TBM or Meridian?
Yea, I know, their engines never fail, right?
Those people out there on the hillside under those headstones thought it was going to be someone else.
Tell me how safe a twin prop or turbo prop at gross in an urban environment. Or better yet, how proficient are all you pilots on emergency procedures flying a hundred hours a year?

airtaximan said...

sorry Ken... you and I and the reporters pretty much know... its coming down pretty soon.

nice post regarding me, though.

Anthing concrete to add, like how fast the plane you don't have goes? Or how far it really goes?

Try to keep in mind there's risk associated with you ever getting a plane, Ken... this is the point everyone, including Aviation Week seems to be looking at...

Sorry, you seemed to have overlooked this.

airtaximan said...

"But the point I want to make is what would have happened with center line thrust on the Eclipse at gross at that airport losing an engine?"

Yup, no asymmetric thrust here... carry on...nice claim....

see the previous post regading witnessing an e-500 joggin down the runway tryng to take off... loafing... it works, sorta... its a jet, sorta...why?

I hope I didn't miss you point.

gadfly said...

It’s easy to pick on Eclipse, because, although they wish to make a major breakthrough, they have aimed at a distant target without properly recognizing the need for the past.

But on the other hand, the “dinosaurs” are slow to move forward as well. In years gone by, I used to argue with a head designer about the need to provide a single datum on a drawing, and the need to move into a true CAD system. Today, GE has moved into the computer age, and the single datum is a basic part of a file . . . and we share drawings by email. But there were many years of frustration . . . arguing over a couple points in space defined by the “whims” and various understandings of competing departments. But no more!

Eclipse may have an excellent CAD system, and use the best of computers and software, but (in my opinion) they have forgotten the need to carefully cultivate a crew of skilled craftsmen, that are not only true artisans in “sculpting aircraft” from raw materials, but are willing teachers of the many younger “craftsmen-in-the-rough” that will spell the difference between success and failure. (By the way, a good machinist is just as much an “artist” as he is a technician. In other words, machining and manufacturing is far more “art” than “science” . . . something that Eclipse seems to have totally missed.)

All this is not something that comes together in a “fortnight” (two weeks for those who don’t know the mind of a “Brit”), but something that is grown over time, with patience, and recognizing the “good and valuable” that has been so carefully nourished by the “dinosaurs”.

Again, (in my personal opinion) it is too late to save Eclipse . . . at least in its present form . . . there’s just too much baggage. The little plane “flies” . . . not great, but it’s “OK”. But far too much is expected of it . . . it needs far more than it can possibly provide.

Sometimes, as I have learned so very many times in my own work of design/machining/manufacturing, it’s best to admit “failure” on a project, and start, again, with a clean slate . . . or in my case, a “new file” . . . remembering various mistakes, “not-so-great” ideas, and put a new design on my computer screen. But I continue to build on the successes of the past. And there have been far more past successes than failures . . . and that gives me assurance that I’ll solve whatever problem that has been presented to me.

Another time, maybe we can discuss the danger of attempting too many “breakthroughs”, using “others” that do not share, nor understand, the “passion”, without the needed resources to complete the project.

gadfly

("Beech 18" . . . bad memories. As a young and inexperienced A&P, I moved a "banjo" oil fitting on one of the engines . . . the seal no longer "sealed", and when MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) received their plane, they were not pleased with the streak of oil coming off one of their radials . . . "left engine", as I recall . . . so many years ago.)

Jim said...

Is there anyone who flies old twin props who doesn't leave it on the runway for an extra 10 or 15 knots?

Asym thrust is still a better option than no thrust esp. if you're at max T-O wt. when the shit (in this case bird) hits the fan:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji4nZ5k82uk

hummer said...

ATM
Would you rather have 300 to 500 ft/minute positive climb or shutting down and engine, feathering a prop and handling VMC?
Or is two turbine engines safer than two recips or one turboprop given all conditions equal?
That was my point.
Safety for the pilot/passengers
(especially those pilots that fly
100 - 200 hrs/year)

hummer said...

Jim
Sure do and concur with asmy thrust.
Great youtube clip.
Thanks for the input.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Wow, a non-fatal accident in an airplane that first flew 70 YEARS ago - and they say the critics are stretching.

The macabre fascination the Faithful seem to have re: crashes makes one wonder if they suspect things about the Eclipse even we critics don't suggest.

I have an idea, let's compare the partially functioning WunderJet to a dependable workhorse of truly historic importance (over 9,000 produced), one still in service 7 DECADES after first flight (and 4 DECADES after production ceased) - anything to create a sense of validation.

How long before the Faithful will be comparing the Eclipse to the Wright Flyer in terms of perceived safety.

I read the Aviation Week article as very sceptical, might even call it Critical, of the Eclipse - now where have I heard that before?

airsafetyman said...

I think the point of the Beech accident should be that he lost an engine between rotation and achieving the best single-engine rate of climb airspeed, and the aircraft would not accelerate on the remaining engine to the necessary airspeed that would enable a positive rate of climb. On the Eclipse, if there is a noticable difference between rotation and the best climb airspeed, the same thing could occur, especially out of a hot and high airfield. I would not want to lose an engine at rotation in an Eclipse departing out of Aspen, CO, in the summer. The Beech pilot had three choices: pull off power and land, go straight ahead until you hit something, or pull up and do a VMC roll. The Eclipse pilot might well have similar choices: pull off power and land straight ahead, go strraight ahead until you hit something, or pull up and stall.

Ken Meyer said...

airsafetyman wrote,

"The Eclipse pilot might well have similar choices: pull off power and land straight ahead, go strraight ahead until you hit something, or pull up and stall."

I don't think so. At every permitted altitude/temperature/weight combination, the Eclipse is flyable from rotation.

For example, at Denver, ISA + 20 at gross weight, the Eclipse has an engine-out climbrate of just under 500 ft per minute, easily clearing the OCS.

The plane has no asymmetric thrust. No Vmc at all. The Eclipse pilot will not face the Vmc rollover situation that does in so many piston twin pilots who lose an engine at takeoff.

You've very nicely highlighted one of the important safety advantages of the Eclipse over a piston twin.

Ken

airsafetyman said...

Well, what is a normal rotation speed for a fully-loaded Eclipse and what is the best climb airspeed and how long does it take to accelerate to the best climb airspeed from the rotation?

A good friend of mind used to fly a Falcon 20. He loved the airplane but said that if he had to use anti-ice on take-off the airplane was seriously underpowered even with both engines running! Now we are told that an engine cut at rotation in an Eclipse at a hot and high airport is no problem? An airplane that many consider to be seriously underpowered in the first place?

Gunner said...

By Kevin Robinson-Avila
Updated: 8:00 p.m. ET Sept 16, 2007

Things haven't gone as planned this year for Eclipse Aviation Corp.

The company expected a few hundred planes out the door by now, en route to a 2007 production goal of 500 planes. But as of June, the fledgling maker of very light jets had only delivered 30 planes to customers, thanks to nagging production and supplier problems that continue today.

Eclipse naysayers who have long doubted the company could mass-produce low-priced, quality jets are quick to predict the startup's demise. Richard Aboulafia, vice president and aviation analyst with The Teal Group in Fairfax, Va., is one such critic.

"I think a day of reckoning is coming for Eclipse," Aboulafia told the New Mexico Business Weekly. "They simply can't reach the high production rates they've outlined in their business plan."

Even some staunch Eclipse supporters seem to be growing a bit weary. Fred George, senior editor with the monthly magazine Business & Commercial Aviation, said his usually upbeat outlook on Eclipse is now more sober.

"I never thought Eclipse would be so behind on production at this point," George said. "They'll be lucky to get out even a couple of hundred planes this year. For the first time I have real concerns."

George said sluggish production has led to ongoing cash-flow problems, forcing Eclipse to seek more funding from investors. The company raised another $200 million over the summer, bringing total private investment in Eclipse to nearly $1 billion since 1998.

"I'm concerned they'll need another healthy cash infusion by the end of the year," he said. "With the clock running and money burning, things could get difficult."

An article in the September edition of Condé Nast Portfolio said the latest round of funding was cobbled together at the last minute this summer after a $200 million investment from the hedge fund Highland Capital Management fell through. The story, by staff writer Gabriel Sherman, said Highland made eleventh-hour demands in June that were unacceptable to Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn, such as requesting two seats on the company board. When the deal folded, it sent Eclipse scrambling to find alternative funds to stay afloat. Raburn told Sherman that "nearly destroyed" the company.

"It was a very candid interview about the state and health of Eclipse," Sherman told NMBW. "Sources had already told me the company was facing significant financial hurdles. This was the first time Vern acknowledged the depth of the problems."

Raburn, however, says the incident with Highland was blown out of proportion.

"Is the company financially solvent? Absolutely," Raburn said. "I said [to Sherman] that Eclipse was nearly bankrupt [by the Highland incident] because the investor had lied to us, but we're nowhere near bankruptcy. That incident was like a near miss in an airplane -- it didn't happen."

And Raburn dismissed criticism about production problems as exaggerated speculation.

"The ramp-up in production has certainly not gone as well as we planned or wanted, but speculation on our health and finances is just that -- speculation," Raburn said. "If we don't succeed in ramping up production, it will certainly be a problem but, if we do, we'll be in good shape."

Raburn said most of the reports on production delays are not new. Eclipse itself has been publicly forthcoming about those problems, such as some aerodynamic changes in the Eclipse 500 structure early this year, and a change last March in the company's avionics supply chain. Those changes, combined with frequent delays by suppliers in shipping jet parts and some administrative difficulties when organizing the Eclipse assembly line, have caused production setbacks, Raburn said.

"We're not out of the woods yet -- we still have some big challenges ahead -- but I'm proud of the company's ability to meet challenges straight on and solve them."

Eclipse has achieved some major milestones this year, such as receiving production certification from the Federal Aviation Administration in April.

"We've already created far too much value for this company to go away," Raburn said. "Eclipse will continue to move forward."

Despite his concerns, George agreed.

"A lot of the delays are because Vern is bound and determined to do everything the right way -- either full blast or not at all," George said. "Vern's a real magician. If anyone can pull a rabbit out of the hat to make it all work, Vern can."

WhyTech said...

Ken said:

"The plane has no asymmetric thrust. No Vmc at all. "

I am anything but an expert on the E-clips, but this doesnt sound right. The engines are not on the center line, so there is a moment arm, and there should be an asymmetric yawing/turning moment developed whenever the engine thrust is not equal on both sides. There may not be a Vmca, but what about a Vmcg? This could result in control problems on a contaminated runway if the asymmetric thrust is sufficient.

WT

airsafetyman said...

WT,

I don't think controllability would be a problem on the Eclipse as the stall speed is lower than the calculated VMC.

The question I had was that since the single-engine climb airspeed has to be achieved to get the best published single-engine climb figuers, what happens with an engine cut at rotation? How long does it take to accelerate (single-engine) to the best climb speed. The 500 fpm that Ken mentioned would not be possible to achieve at rotation unless rotation speed and the best single-engine climb speed were the same.

421Jockey said...

Vmc is below the stall speed. Of course there is some asymmetric thrust, but is minimal and the aircraft will stall before the rudder loses authority.

I seem to recall Vern saying that an engine out is "a feet on floor event" (Perhaps an overstatement)
421

airsafetyman said...

421,

Thanks, That's what I ment to say. As airspeed is decreased the wing will stall before the calculated VMC airspeed is reached.

WhyTech said...

ASM said:

"I don't think controllability would be a problem on the Eclipse as the stall speed is lower (actually higher) than the calculated VMC."

As I understand things there is a Vmca (a = air) and Vmcg (g= ground). Vmcg is defined as:

'This is the minimum control speed on the ground and is the CAS, at which, when the critical engine is suddenly made inoperative during the take-off run and with its propeller, if applicable, in the position it automatically takes, it is possible to maintain control with the use of primary aerodynamic controls alone (without the use of nosewheel steering) to enable the take-off to be safely continued using normal piloting skill. The path of the aeroplane from the point of engine failure to the point at which recovery to a direction parallel to the centre line of the runway is attained may not deviate by more than 30ft laterally from the centre line at any point.'

I was asking the ultimate authority on all things E-clips (Ken) whether there is a Vmcg consideration with the E-clips. Ken's statement that there is no asymmetric thrust is clearly not correct. The issue is whether there is enough to matter, either in the air (apparently not an issue) or on the ground.

WT

421Jockey said...

WT,
The current AFM (July 26) clearly states that there is no Vmca because "minimum control speed is lower than stall speed in all configurations". There is no mention of Vmcg.
421

Stan Blankenship said...

It would be interesting to know how much Eclipse paid TPT for the Doublespeak.

"Step One was to gain a full understanding of Eclipse's current production processes and identify constraints. The assembly floor was reconfigured to a linear flow model that involves kitting on two parallel production lines, versus the previous discontinued flow manufacturing Eclipse had been using."

Building airplanes isn't rocket science, brain surgery, heart surgery or even toe surgery. The production line process is pretty simple:

Establish as many production line positions as practical. In the case of a small complex airplane like Eclipse, you would need more than normal. The airplane is so small, workers will get in each others way unless the line is spread out.

Install everything you can as early as you can. Don't wait for that last position at the hangar door to do too much.

Stage the parts at each production position so workers are not running all over the factory floor gathering parts to build the airplane.

It sounds like another management misfire. Underestimating the man-hours for assembly, underestimating the number of bodies required for final assembly, underestimating the number of assembly line positions required.

Some of the failed production managers may have tried to tell Vern and company what was needed, but it is much easier to bring in experts (people more than 100 miles from their homes), pay them dearly to tell you the obvious.

planet-ex said...

A quick rejoinder to Ken's last post about the safety of the TBM-700 compared to the King Air series...

What percentage of TBM-700's are owner-operated compared to the King Air series? That has a lot to do with it's safety record.

As I've said before, Ken doesn't know how to understand statistics.

hummer said...

Stan
"A lot of the delays are because Vern is bound & determined to do everything the right way"
That's the kind of manufacturer I want building my airplane.
Is one aircraft/day (30 per month)
which is to be announced tuesday
respectable?
Looks like quality headed for quantity.

421Jockey said...

P-X,
Methinks that Ken understands statistics perfectly well. He has just learned how to apply them from this bunch of critics.

WhyTech said...

Hummer quoted:

"A lot of the delays are because Vern is bound & determined to do everything the right way"

I think this should probably have read:

"A lot of the delays are because Vern is bound & determined to do everything HIS way"

WT

Stan Blankenship said...

hummer,

From my view, most of the delays have resulted from not getting it right the first time. I'm not talking one or two items, it has been pretty much across the board.

WhyTech said...

421 said:

"There is no mention of Vmcg."

Probably not an issue if not stated in the AFM.

Thanks,

WT

hummer said...

WhyTech & Stan. .
Then am I right in assuming
"right way" equals "HIS (Vern's way)
And Stan, doing things over and over again until they're right is wrong?
Then determining the right way
(in this instance quality)
continuing on with increased production
(in this instance is quantity)
it the wrong way?

Stan Blankenship said...

hummer,

Your underlying assumption is that they are getting it right the second time around.

This airplane has fundamental flaws that owners are going to have to live with because they did not get it right the first time.

Too small a wing, underpowered, tip tanks, undersized wheels and brakes, a forced dependence on centralized computer control for nearly all system functions due to weight and space limitations.

WhyTech said...

Hummer said:

"Then am I right in assuming
"right way" equals "HIS (Vern's way)"

The Faithful seem to think that this is the case. The evidence suggests that Vern's way and the right way are diametrically opposed. You should assume whatever makes you feel good.

WT

WhyTech said...

Hummer said:

"Then determining the right way
(in this instance quality)
continuing on with increased production
(in this instance is quantity)
it the wrong way?:

First Law of Manufacturing:

Get it right, THEN scale it up.

E-clips still isnt right (good design, functionally complete) but they are about to be bragging about delivering at least one unfinished airplane per day. This will haunt them forever.

WT

Gunner said...

Intentional parsing without regard to context:
The REAL "context" of Eclipse Supporter, Fred George's comments are provided here:

"I never thought Eclipse would be so behind on production at this point," George said. "They'll be lucky to get out even a couple of hundred planes this year. For the first time I have real concerns."

And here:

"Vern's a real magician. If anyone can pull a rabbit out of the hat to make it all work, Vern can."

In short, he says the company is WAY behind, that he's concerned for the first time and that it'll take a virtual act of magic to make things right.

I guess Fred wasn't impressed with what they're "gonna" announce "on Tuesday".
Gunner

Gunner said...

Oh, yeah....he also said this:
"I'm concerned they'll need another healthy cash infusion by the end of the year," he said. "With the clock running and money burning, things could get difficult."

Step right up, Ye potential Depositors. Plenty of room in the the Eclipse bank accounts for all of your dreams. ;-)
Gunner

hummer said...

OK
This, of course, is the fallacy of Circular Reasoning.
"Right Way" vs "Wrong Way" vs "Verns Way"
So introduce the "Supposed" design flaws.
Perhaps the aircraft will be improved upon.
And two turbines (maybe underpowered -
hard to have fuel efficiency overpowered and a subjective judgement),
no VMC with the folks and dogs on board (safety)
compared to the other unsafer
alternatives. . . .
does indeed make me "feel good".
Thank you.
Centralize computer control is an issue yet to be determined.

WhyTech said...

Hummer said:

"Centralize computer control is an issue yet to be determined."

You do know what the air/ground data link (I dont recall E-clips marketing speak name for this) is really for? Its to download patches to the acft operating software in flight - somewhat like the Windows Automatic Update feature, which is constantly busy on my PC, even with an OS a "mature" as Win XP. This is the Microsoft legacy Vern brings to the program: put out a bunch of partially tested code and let the customers perform the quality control function. Fortunately, the FAA wont let it happen quite this way.

WT

hummer said...

WhyTech
Being from the "Old School" and wishing to control all things,
the "Centralize Computer Control"
feature gives me the greatest concern. Even though I have "Vista"
and love it (greatest platform to date in OS), and was a beta tester for it, I am having tough times with Office 2007. Seem like I can't talk or have people understand me since Office 2007 can not be really understood by another who does not have Office 2007.
Kinda like this blog
with the Critics
and the Faithful
Anyway, we just have to wait and see.
The FAA has greater problems than Vern to solve at this point.

airtaximan said...

Hummer,

you must admit that most of the criticism of e-clips has come true. The BS posts regarding critics saying it will never fly, or it will neverr get PC, is untrue, just an attempt to discredit.

Avweek puts on a convention for the air taxi market and depends on e-clips... The publications in the industry depend on e-clips ad dollars... but something seems to be changing, no? Have they decided the ad dollars have been milked and now they should be realistic regarding their "news" on e-clips? Has reality set in, and the liability regarding journalistic integrity has hot home - no excuses, and black and white evidence that e-clips is way behind and n trouble?

The reports are sounding more like the critics on this blog, while the die-hards keep saying "the train has left the station... its all good!".

Curious.

Between you and me, you are planning an air taxi service with e-clips planes, and you seem to have some good ideas. You are going to sell "fractinal ownerships" to non-pilots, and also use their planes for taxi service, right? You are promising ROI to the owners.

I understand you want to believe this is a good plane for your business plan... just take Stans comments to heart a little. Perhaps the plane has fundamental problems - it was afterall designed for another engine. This is abig deal. Its currently undergoing redesign again and again. Perhaps when all is said and done they will catch up to all the required redesign work.

To my point - is the cheapest plane really the enabler for your business and investors? If the e-500 works, so will the Phenom, or you are on a razor thin business case to begin with.

If I'm an investor, I look at the risk and say: "I'll invest another few hundred grand for my share, and we can charge alittle more per ticket (gas takes care of this problem... if you do not have fuel in there at plus or minus $1.5 your crazy!) and you have a better platform, and a safer investment.

Chances are, if yur plan does not work out, you and your investors can easily sell the Phenoms or Mustangs for close to your purchase price or a premium - on the e-clips side, I think there's more risk with that plane from a resale perspective.

Just my opinion - I wish you luck, its an adventurous plan!

Nerdy Engineer said...

Ringtail said...
I guess that happens with the holy-ier than thou Cessna also?


I think you've got your "holier than thou" misplaced. I've never heard the CEO of Cessna publicly insult vendors or competitors. They just worked through the issues with Garmin this year without making a public spectacle of the problem. Vern, on the other hand, takes every opportunity to place the blame on Eclipse vendors. He even publicly ridicules his own people.

As the OEM, you are responsible for all vendors and employees since you chose them. Just like an army commander, you are responsible for the conduct of your troops. No ifs, ands, or buts.

jetaburner said...

Hummer-

Don't know about the e-clips b/c I've never flown one but on a CJ2 there is a lot assymetrical thrust which is why they have a rudder bias system. That helps with the rudder when you lose one. Since the e-clips has two engines mounted on the side of the fuselage there will be assymetrical thrust in the event of engine lost. Does it have a rudder bias system like all the other jets?

WhyTech said...

Hummer said:

"Even though I have "Vista"
and love it (greatest platform to date in OS), and was a beta tester for it, I am having tough times with Office 2007"

I am right behind you on this path. Have Vista running on 3 computers, and XP on several others. Just beginning to fool with Office 2007. My beef with Vista: why was it necessary to render most of my peripherals and some applications unworkable with Vista? Had to spend a lot of time finding drivers and patches. And still not 100% there.

WT

hummer said...

ATM
Thanks
There are still a lot of unknowns
on both sides:
The Critics and
The Faithful
A reasonable person may conclude that perhaps something lies in between.
For a business model, one approach is to start with a lot of money, seek further financing and try to make it work top down.
RE: Vern & Ed
Another is to start at the bottom and prove each step of the way before going to the next level.
I prefer the later to the former.
Let's face it.
Everybodys got a VLJ.
Some with different mission profiles.
The market: owner/operator, airtaxi and corporate are preceived to really be the market.
It is not in my opinion.
It is the Flying Public.
Not all but the top 60% that are really in a bad situation that is getting worse.
If they can be informed (sold) on a better way (other than the airlines) in sufficient numbers and at the right price . . .
VLJs will succeed handsomely.
Otherwise, the market will become
the owner/operator, airtaxi and corporate and will be in the same situation as it is in now. Kinda slogging along. . not going much of anywhere.
So the business model is the Flying Public.
VLJs will become more avialable.
Pilots are a dime a dozen.
Investors care only about ROI.
Business models will be all over the place. Most will fail.
When you are trying to sell the wrong thing to the wrong folks it's hard to succeed.
Nuff said
Time to watch football.

hummer said...

Jetaburner. . .
I'm confident Ole Vern has that programmed into his super duper software package along with a call to the FBO to send out some toliet paper and a stiff drink.

Gunner said...

WT-
In the world of computing, there have been few "revolutionary" products. Windows 95 was one. Nothing they've done since has been worth the costs (to you) that are built into the OS.

Quicken was another...but it, too, continues to degrade.

Mac OS X. Ahhhhh, there's a different story. Revolutionary when introduced, it only gets better with every release....and it's based on Open Source, "Dinosaur" Linux.

The iPhone....I'll call it evolutionary; but a quantum leap over the previous front runners, Treo and Blackberry. Nearly revolutionary.

Much as I'm awed by Bill Gates,I think Microsoft is much like Eclipse. Over the years, they have lowered expectations of what a computer (or aircraft) should do, we're content if it only crashes weekly. ;-)

VISTA is the worst release since Windoze 2000.

As always, YMMV
Gunner

jetaburner said...

planet-ex-

Ken likes to point out the safety record of twin jets vs. twin and single turboprops. What he doesn't understand is that the safest feature in an airplane is a 2 person crew. Most twin jets are crew flown, even as part 91, and therefore those statistics do not truly reflect the safety difference of the different type of aircraft. By far the leading cause of all accidents is the pilot. The engineers have done such a good job, except maybe in e-clips case, of making the aircraft extremely safe and reliable.

hummer said...

Hey Gunner. ..
Once you learn how to use it,
You'll like it.
Stop playing with them guns, girls
and your. . . .. .
and start playing with your keyboard.

hummer said...

Jetaburner
And the reason they fly with a two man crew is not because of the FAA
but because of the insurance companies.
In a VLJ like Eclipse where space and fuel are a very vital concern. . .
two pilots are a deal breaker.

jetaburner said...

Hummer-

2 reasons most other jets fly with 2 man crews: Insurance and FAA (for the larger jets).

Agree that the e-clips and other VLJs will have to be flown with one crew. Therefore, I suspect they will have a higher than average accident rate for twin jets. Probably about the same as the turboprops since a higher percentage of them are flown single pilot.

Nerdy Engineer said...

It is true that the most critical piece of equipment in an emergency is a calm pilot. Sure, you can have your "Oh #$%@!" moment but you must quickly recover. You can see this pilot instinctively duck but he keeps his cool and lands the aircraft. The bird strike could have been worse but it is very bad timing.

Bird Strike on Approach

This one is a little more dramatic:
Military Crash

jetaburner said...

Ken and 421-

Is this what happens when you lose one of your engines in a piston twin? http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20070813X01177&key=1

I have lost 2 engines in an Aerostar as a passenger. Luckily, both worked out fine. I have a lot more time flying single turboprops but have never lost one. Could it happen? Of course. But one of the big differences is not only the remarkable reliability of the PT6 but also the fact that the engine is de-rated to 50% of its thermodynamic rating. That means on takeoff, when pistons and twin jets are pushing their engines to their max, the single turboprop is barely working. Maybe that is why there has never been an engine failure on takeoff in a TBM in 15 years.

jetaburner said...

I heard Boeing is asking engine manufacturers to design engines that can withstand ingesting an e-clips. They are concerned because the aircraft is so slow and small that they may fun over them at altitude. Just kidding!!!

Gunner said...

Hummer-
The difference between Windows addicts and Mac Addicts:
Mac Addicts are proficient with both systems.

Nice handle, by the way. ;-)
Gunner

mirage00 said...

It would be interesting to know how much Eclipse paid TPT for the Doublespeak.

Ahhh "Conspiracy" theory again. Like the AFM cover up "Conspiracy"

I remain amused

double 00

rcflyer said...

jetaburner said,

"I heard Boeing is asking engine manufacturers to design engines that can withstand ingesting an e-clips."

Now THAT was funny. Reminds me of the old joke about the original Citation -- all the bird strikes were from behind.

R.C.

jetaburner said...

rcflyer-

That was good one as well!!

airtaximan said...

"I heard Boeing is asking engine manufacturers to design engines that can withstand ingesting an e-clips."

The whole thing? or just some windshields, wings, other parts?

gadfly said...

Eclipse has taken care of the problem in anticipation . . . they're already "stir fried".

gadfly

jetaburner said...

AT-

I believe it is the whole thing. You can fit an entire e-clips in one of the engines of the 777.

Black Dog said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o

nice clip think Vern when you watch.

George Carlin at his best can be a touch rude if you are easily offended do not view

gadfly said...

Let us say that although Vern is not the most popular person in the view of many on this blogsite, I seriously doubt that we would place him on the vile level of this Catlin person, who some think of as a comedian. Yes there will be a day of reckoning for Eclipse concerning finances, etc., but nothing compared to another day of reckoning.

Dark Pooch . . . we don’t need this sort of thing. Remain anonymous . . . we don’t wish to know any more about you, Thank you!

gadfly

airtaximan said...

funny, craxy thing..and credit where credit is due..

witha marginal program, a marginal plane, a lot of boisterous claims and many many failures... Vern IS a magician.

No one should doubt how critical he has been at keeping the program alive.

Many better programs have failed, due to lack of access to financing.... and Vern deserves LAL the credit here.

Truely impressive. Learn from it... and be impressed - the rest is unimpressive, for sure. He has continually pulled a rabbit out of his ass...

Troglodyte said...

Gunner,

From one Mac lover to another: With all due respect to your points (which I accept and agree with) I believe Mac OS X is based on the Mach kernel (with bits of 4.3BSD) which got it’s start at CMU and was acquired by Apple when it purchased NeXT. It is open source, but isn't Linux.

Trog

jetaburner said...

Ken-

I've had some time to review the NTSB site regarding the TBM since you seem to think it unsafe because it is a single engine.

From 1992-current there have been a total of 17 TBM accidents.
- 6 involving fatalities
- 4 of those 6 were in the approach phase of flight. Non involved any malfunction of the plane.
- 1 was a departure in IMC out of Centennial where the pilot lost control of the plane. Again nothing wrong with the plane.
- 1 was a stuck engine at full power due to faulty engine maintenance. The pilot should've been able to land the aircraft and therefore it was deemed pilot error.

Of all the accidents, only one was directly attributable to an airframe/powerplant issue which was a gear collapse on landing. No one was injured.

That's pretty good in my book as clearly the fleet, which according to planet-ex's statistics, had accumulated over 493,000 hrs by 2004 so it is safe to assume it has accumulated well over 500k now. Clearly the leading cause (16 out of 17 accidents) is the pilot not the aircraft.

There has been 14 CJ, straight CJ (525) not CJ2 or CJ3, accidents between 1995-2007. 5 involved fatalities. Does anyone have fleet hours? It would be interesting to compare as the CJ is probably the most likely jet during that time to be flown single pilot. Still more likely to be flown in a crew configuration then the TBM but it would be interesting to compare.

In this month's Flying Magazine on page 20, they post the results of their unscientific poll about single-engine jets. 69 percent believed that this new breed would be a hit. 30 percent said that the jets would be "everything buyers are looking for".

What I find interesting is that these are the same type of buyers who originally believed the e-clips was the answer until e-clips doubled in price. Clearly there is a large population of owner pilots who are looking for an inexpensive jet, single or twin. The real question is what is the price threshold. I think it is a $1 million but that's just my opinion. Thoughts?

Niner Zulu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
planet-ex said...

Cessna is stating over 1 million hours for the CJ/CJ1 fleet.

That's the only number I can find after about ten minutes of googling.

Shane Price said...

Trog,

5.3 (not 4.3) of BSD.

And the GUI is NOT open source. Apple keep a tight hold on that code.

Also, Apple did not, by any reasonable measure, aquire NeXT.

Steve sold it to himself!

Vern could learn something from Mr. Jobs. I mean, what other company would pay it's CEO $1 per annum (yes, a dollar) but give him a bounus of business jet.

Hey, there's a good idea for Eclipse. Vern can get his pals in the Fortune 500 company list to give away E499.5's as staff bonuses. A big benefit would be in staff retention. If you left, your Eclipse would not get finished.

OK, enough with this silly stuff...

Anyone else got a confirm on DayJet starting next week?

Shane

Shane Price said...

9Z,

Pretty soon there will be as many for sale as are acutully built!

Any word on #71. You know, the one we heard Vera state had 'started this morning' on the 13th of August.

Should be ready by now, you would think. After all, #51 was 'waiting for the NASCAR transporter' to take it to wing mate on the same day.

All The Faithful are convinced that the company is delivering 'one plane per day'. Counting all my fingers and toes, 13th of August to 24th September is 42 days. E499.5 #71 minus E499.5 #51 is 20. Even if you take it as read that 71 had actually started.

That makes interesting reading for those who either a) believed Vern when clamined that #71 had started 42 days ago or b) believe ABQ has hit 'one a day'.

Shane

WhyTech said...

jab said:

"I've had some time to review the NTSB site regarding the TBM since you seem to think it unsafe because it is a single engine. "

And I have done the same for the PC-12. In 2 million hours spread over about 700 airplanes over 13 years:

> 3 fatal accidents, all due to pilot error, NONE due to engine failure

> 7 additional accidents/incidents due to miscellaneous causes involving no or minor injuries: hitting an elk on the runway, hitting a fence while taxiing at night, hitting a snow bank on the edge of the runway, etc. Three of these were due to engine failure (2)or power rollbacks (1), but there were no fatalities or serious injuries in these cases. The cause of the power rollbacks has been determined and corrected via a modification to the fuel control unit, and there have been no additional rollbacks since this mod was applied fleet wide. The cause of one of the engine failures has been determined and attributed to improper maintenence. The third engine failue was due to a seized prop reduction gear box, and the cause could not be determined as the acft sunk in 14,000 feet of water some hours after a ditching in which the acft did not breakup, and all aboard escaped safely.

And keep in mind that this acft is far more often operated single pilot than is a twin jet.

WT

6:30 AM, September 24, 2007

Bonanza Pilot said...

Sounds like more of the same...blah blah blah Bad suppliers...blah blah blah bad managers....blah blah blah bad workers....hey Vern admits he might have done something wrong, he trusted others too much! Talk about denial. This is like watching a plane on fire with one engine shut down in a box canyon at night in IMC with complete instrument failure. It is like watching a car wreck in slow motion...we all know what is coming, it is just a matter of picking a date.

ExEclipser said...

Here's a great specific example of where there are HUGE problems in the company.

A young kid just out of college was hired on as a salesman. Soon, being a golden child of Vern in the image of Paul Allen, he became sales manager. During that job, he became the self proclaimed father of AVIO. Now that AVIO has completely failed, he gets giddy over being the NEW father of AVIO NG...which is also having severe issues.

So what does Vern do? He fires one Marketing director, the other leaves and he PROMOTES this kid to DIRECTOR OF MARKETING! OH, and he's still the father of what is probably the number one biggest problem with the Jet - AVIO XX.

Right in line with the Toyota/Ford story up above.

airtaximan said...

http://www.avweb.com/
newspics/camarillo_vtol_
large.jpg

Black Tulip said...

I met someone quite knowledgeable in the aviation business. He knows a great deal about Eclipse as well as other manufacturers and their aircraft. I’ll try to summarize opinions he expressed in our conversation:

The owner of a piston twin such as a Baron will be satisfied with the Eclipse 500 and the value it delivers.

Piston pilots with large amounts of disposable income have put deposits on the only jet they see themselves owning.

For long range, it is a two-place aircraft.

Jet pilots and current jet owners will be disappointed in the aircraft and will find it unsatisfactory.

Eclipse has followed in the footsteps of Microsoft by delivering incomplete products or products with bugs. Being a near monopoly, Microsoft implied that the customers should accept the products; because that is the best they are going to do.

Vendors have trouble getting sufficient information from Eclipse to do their job. This is out of concern for loss of intellectual property.

Like Microsoft, Eclipse intends to keep vendors subservient and competitors at bay, by fierce protection of intellectual property. This led to the breakup with Avidyne which has successfully supplied avionics to other aircraft manufacturers.

Again, these are not my opinions. I’ve tried to transcribe those of someone I respect.

Black Tulip

airtaximan said...

E500now a Personal Jet vs a VLJ...according to Honeywell's forecast - interesting...

Very Light: Deliveries of business jets in this segment are poised to
accelerate rapidly off a base of around 175 units in 2007. Deliveries are forecast to increase dramatically in 2008 and beyond, averaging just under
320 aircraft per year for the latter portion of the forecast period. The rapid increase in projected demand reflects the introduction of new very
light jets, such as the Embraer Phenom 100 and Cessna Citation Mustang, both of which continue to enjoy strong order backlogs. Also entering the segment is the recently announced HondaJet. Total deliveries of very light jets for the 2007 to 2017 period are expected to exceed 3,300. Other
production and announced aircraft in this segment include the Cessna CJ1+ and CJ2+, Beechcraft Premier I and Sino-Swearingen SJ30-2.

Personal Jets: The 2007 Business Aviation Outlook provides an updated look at the emerging General Aviation Jet segment. This portion of industry demand has centered on the emergence of very light aircraft such as the
Eclipse 500, Adam 700, Diamond Jet, Cirrus, Piper Jet and others not normally covered by the Business Aviation Outlook.

FlightCenter said...

It is very interesting that Honeywell classified the A700 as a personal jet instead of a VLJ.

The A700 has the same speed and range as the Mustang plus it has a larger cabin.

The A700 cabin is almost the same size as the CJ1 cabin.

It appears that Cessna's marketing group did a good job influencing Honeywell regarding the definition of the categories.

Honeywell seems to be taking the position that they don't need to provide a forecast for those upstart aircraft manufacturers from the other side of the tracks. They clearly aren't cut out to be members of the biz jet club.

ExEclipser said...

Just about as subjective as you can get.

Vern invented the phrase VLJ, and now just about anything with a MTOW of less than 10K lbs is considered a VLJ.

Anyone can call anything whatever they want to.

Niner Zulu said...

I give as much credence to Honeywell's forecast of the business jet market as I do Century 21's forecast of the residential home market.

Which is to say, not much.

Consider they are about as biased as it is possible to be. To quote their website "Honeywell is a leading supplier of avionics systems and products for the commercial, military and space markets...".

Honeywell would be foolish to come out with any report that paints anything less than a rosy future of the jet market. The last thing they want is for some executive somewhere to have second thoughts about buying that new business jet.

jetaburner said...

Dark flower-

I agree with your friend's assesment:

"The owner of a piston twin such as a Baron will be satisfied with the Eclipse 500 and the value it delivers.... Jet pilots and current jet owners will be disappointed in the aircraft and will find it unsatisfactory."

I have not met any TBM, Pilatus, or CJ owners that are considering an e-clips. It just doesn't do enough compared to their current planes and there are too many questions regarding the airplane. Some of the TBM folks are interested in the Mustang and Phenom but most, who want a jet, are interested in a CJ1,2, or 3.

Gunner said...

JetA-
The more I read this Blog and analyze the numbers, the more convinced I become that, for utility, the Turboprops win the day for those of us wishing to regularly travel >800-900NM. For economy, the single Turbo's clearly stand out.

Unless your general mission profile is a 600-700 NM run with 1 or two passengers, the logical step-up from the TurboProp is a full fledged entry level Jet. And I think the Mustang barely makes that category.

In the Eclipse category I believe Diamond and Cirrus have the better idea. Optimize a small, slow jet for where it's gonna be flying (FL2X0), recognize the limited market demand, and don't pretend that it's anything other than what it is. (Vern paid tribute to this concept when he stated something to the effect that the ConJet was the "jet we should have been building all along".)

Every argument I've seen for the EA-50X (in context of my comments) revolves around wannabe cool factor ("We can just take my personal jet") or selective stats to show that it's "safer" than a turboprop AND equivalent to a real twin jet.

To all who feel the EA-50X fits their mission...more power to you. I hardly think your situation is the norm.
Gunner

FlightCenter said...

Eclipse 500 Delivery Data has been updated to reflect the FAA registry database as of today.

The FAA database has not changed in the last week and shows a total of 44 Eclipse 500 aircraft registered and 38 EA500 aircraft which have been issued certificates of airworthiness.

That's right, no Eclipse aircraft registered or issued certificates of airworthiness in the last week.

There are still fewer certificates of airworthiness issued than the number of airplanes that are listed as delivered.

This is the case for all aircraft with serial numbers 39 and higher. (The aero mods were cut into production on serial number 39.)

As far as the FAA database is concerned, none of the aircraft with serial number 39 or higher have been issued a certificate of airworthiness.

In addition, the FAA "in process" website shows 1 additional aircraft (serial #48) for which registration paperwork has been submitted to the FAA.

On a side note, no paperwork has been submitted for serial #46 or serial #47 (you may remember that serial #47 was originally planned to be delivered to John Travolta.)

The in process website would indicate that Eclipse has delivered a total of 46 EA500 aircraft as of today.

As for Mustang deliveries, the FAA database shows 5 Mustang deliveries last week, for a total of 21 Mustang aircraft delivered to end customers.

airtaximan said...

"That's right, no Eclipse aircraft registered or issued certificates of airworthiness in the last week."

Someone's going to blow their wad at NBAA...

"we are delivering 10 planes this week..."
or
"we are delivering 5 planes today"

Just looking to make everyone "believe" things are OK..

IMHO

gadfly said...

From the NBAA website:

"Eclipse Aviation is in the manufacturer of the the Eclipse 500, The World's First Very Light Jet., An affordable jet aircraft that is revolutionizing the transportation market. The company is applying revolutionary propulsion, manufacturing, and electronics systems to produce aircraft that cost less than a third of today's small jet aircraft. The E500 is powered by PW610F engines." (Exhibiting At Booth: 2248, Static Display)

Evidently, the "paperclips" is a better bargain than we previously thought!

gadfly

jetaburner said...

Gunner-

I think your analysis is right on the money.

jetaburner said...

Gadfly-

Great qoute from NBAA!! 1/3 the cost of today's jet =

1/3 of a Mustang ($2.8M)= $600K

1/3 of a CJ1+ ($4.5M)= $1.5M

Hmmm... The e-clips I built up on their site had a base cost of $1,595,000. Add some options that come standard in a CJ or Mustang (like SkyWatch, TAWS, DME, leather seating, etc.) and it comes to $1,943,629!!

Maybe they were comparing it to a CJ2+!!!

I don't know how the faithful can listen to e-clips and not be concerned.

gadfly said...

jeta

1/3 of $2.8MM is about $933K . . . but the point is the same.

gadfly

('Maybe wings are optional!)

flightguy said...

I am just taking a breather from the calm before the NBAA storm,

Aviation Week flies the Eclipse. Some very candid observations.

Enjoy. Sorry for the long link.

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/business_aviation/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=2f16318d-d960-4e49-bc9f-86f1805f2c7f&plckPostId=Blog%3a2f16318d-d960-4e49-bc9f-86f1805f2c7fPost%3af0734733-c650-45b5-aa2b-5886e4101334&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest

jetaburner said...

Gadfly-

Whoops!! My bad thanks for the correction.

airsafetyman said...

Pilatus will be introducing their PC-12 with the Honeywell glass cockpit at the NBAA.

Black Dog said...

"Let us say that although Vern is not the most popular person in the view of many on this blogsite, I seriously doubt that we would place him on the vile level of this Catlin person, who some think of as a comedian. Yes there will be a day of reckoning for Eclipse concerning finances, etc., but nothing compared to another day of reckoning.

Dark Pooch . . . we don’t need this sort of thing. Remain anonymous . . . we don’t wish to know any more about you, Thank you!

gadfly"



Gadfly

I did say it might cause offence and until yesterday I had never even heard of the guy, maybe us Brit's have a thicker skin or maybe you have a thinner skin than the average American? any ways I found the analogy amusing.

Before I return to the shadows might I share my reasons for being here in the first place.
I am a supplier to the tail manufacturer of the Eclipse here in the UK parts for set number 160 have been shipped to the states and but for design changes and the need to slow the line due to the risk of producing too many sets up front we would have been well past 200 by now.

I have had my reservations about this programme since I first heard the order book numbers but this has been covered many times on here, my biggest worry is that Hampsons in all good faith keep their end of the bargain but Eclipse fail on there's.
People over here have invested a lot of money up front to meet Eclipses demands the only way of recovering that investment is if Eclipse is a success and that is becoming increasingly unlikely.
I find it interesting that the only people who really believe seam to be position holders the rest of us naysayer's appear to be in the real world.
I might return from the shadows if Gad lets me but would rather watch from the side, just one last thing KEN please quote your costing in 2007 dollars
Regards

FlightCenter said...

Pilatus introduced their PC-12 with the Honeywell cockpit last year at NBAA.

Pilatus announces the next generation PC-12

Stan Blankenship said...

black dog,

George Carlin is a popular and funny comedian who is not afraid to take on any issue including religion. Obviously, he is not everyone's cup of tea. If a person is secure in their belief, they should not be concerned by what anyone says, remember, Salmon Rushdie?

But I would like a clarification on your comment, can you confirm that Hampsons has shipped 160 tail units?

gadfly said...

Dark Pooch

My comments were my own thoughts, and do not speak for the rest. And I am sure that you have skill to use the Queen's English, to adequately express your thoughts concerning Vern, et al, without resorting to a diatribe from a so-called comedian, and his harangue against God. ‘Let the comedian stand on his own. God will take care of Himself. And let’s stay focused on the Eclipse. We can all do that without going out of our way to offend each other.

gadfly

(It would appear that your personal thoughts would be most welcome, by me, and many others. So, let’s put this behind us, and move to a higher plane of discussion.)

421Jockey said...

Flightcenter,

SN 50 is flying from ABQ to Tulsa as we speak. I think that Eclipse is taking quite a risk flying the plane with no C of A don't you.

Or, perhaps it is the FAA that is lagging behind

airsafetyman said...

"Pilatus introduced their PC-12 with the Honeywell cockpit last year at NBAA."

I think they announced they were going to do it last year. This year they did it. A friend who works for Pilatus told me they hoped to have it ready for the show.

rcflyer said...

Jetaburner,

A small point when you are configuring sample E500s -- the typical US buyer is not going to get the DME. It's only there for countries that require real, live, DME for some flight regimes. The US allows the substitution of GPS for DME.

R.C.

WhyTech said...

ATM said:

"I think they announced they were going to do it last year. This year they did it. A friend who works for Pilatus told me they hoped to have it ready for the show."

Right on all counts. They were briefing current owners on this quite a few months ago. First deliveries are said to be 2Q08.
Thats the good news. IMO, the bad news is the choice of Honeywell Apex. The Apex suite has only one other announced design win so far, and that is the Grob SPn, which has a long way to go before deliveries begin (and some chance that they will never begin), and will never be a high volume acft. I believe that ProLine 21 would have been a more appropriate choice in terms of market acceptance and likely long-term support. There is a real chance that Pilatus has shot themselves in the foot (or worse) with the choice of Apex. We'll see. I hope it works out, as I will give serious consideration to moving to this acft.

WT

FlightCenter said...

421,

Yes, I see
Eclipse 500 #50 Enroute ABQ - TUL

Flightaware says 374 kts at 27,000 feet halfway through the flight.

I'm not sure why there have been no Eclipse CofAs recorded by the FAA since the one for serial #37 on July 27th.

They seem to get their CofAs in batches. The last 15 registered were 7 during the week from 7/14 to 7/21 & 8 from 6/22 to 6/30. None so far listed in August or September.

The previous pattern was that the CofA would be recorded about a month prior to the aircraft delivery.

One possibility is that there is some sort of IOU still outstanding on the CofAs being issued for serial #39 and higher that prevents the FAA from recording them as official CoAs.

jetaburner said...

rcflyer-

Good point. That saves $24,995 so the plane is now $1,913,634 and has a useful load (with only 5 seats installed) of 611 lbs with full fuel.

rcflyer said...

whytech said,

"There is a real chance that Pilatus has shot themselves in the foot (or worse) with the choice of Apex."

It could have been worse -- they could have chosen Avio :)

R.C.

Black Dog said...

gadfly said

(It would appear that your personal thoughts would be most welcome, by me, and many others. So, let’s put this behind us, and move to a higher plane of discussion.)

No problem


Stan

I was in there last week and parts to complete set 160 had been shipped don't forget Hampsons has an assy plant in Dallas Texas where assy of the tail is carried out.
A very good move by Hampsons as the more money they spend in $US in the US means less loss on the exchange rate which is now 2 for 1.
Even with this without larger volumes I can't see how they can be making much from this project its lucky/good business they have picked up the Honda job.
Already with Honda we can see a major mindset shift from the way Eclipse work main one being your the guys making the bits can you make this and is the design correct and workable and if not how can we help you manufacture it easier.

WhyTech said...

rcf said:

"It could have been worse -- they could have chosen Avio :)"

You are definitely a pessimist!

WT

gadfly said...

Dark Pooch

Now that, Sir, is good information! 'Something of real worth. 'Would that more could offer comments of that value.

Thank you.

gadfly

"(Is)the design correct and workable (?) and if not how can we help you manufacture it easier." It is that attitude that spells the difference between success and disaster . . . between Honda and Eclipse.

Black Dog said...

gadfly

Time will tell its early days yet but the vibes appear good.
I am a consultant engineer so I am not directly involved but the Hampsons staff seam happy.
Probably as happy as this Dog :-)

Check out this nice very clip http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2007/09/24/217011/video-what-happens-if-you-dont-strap-your-dog-in-during-negative-g.html

gadfly said...

Dark Pooch

It appears that our computer "firewalls" in our small company are preventing me from watching the video, but I'll watch it later at home. In the mean time, it appears that you've acquired a friend across the "pond" . . . and "Thanks".

gadfly

(From one consultant to another, it's a fine line to walk, advising others . . . making sure that nothing comes back to bite your clients, or yourself.)

Black Dog said...

gadfly

(From one consultant to another, it's a fine line to walk, advising others . . . making sure that nothing comes back to bite your clients, or yourself.)

Very true but it ensures due diligence of the highest order.
May your god go with you its time to walk the dog and then bed.

airtaximan said...

blk dog,

"I was in there last week and parts to complete set 160 had been shipped don't forget Hampsons has an assy plant in Dallas Texas where assy of the tail is carried out."

excuse my lack of familiarity with your business... can you explain:
I was there = where? PArts for 160 were shipped,: what parts and what happens with them where they are going? IS this a tail shipped to e-clips, or parts which need assembly to then go on to e-clips?
How many shipsets are shipped at a time to e-clips? How many shipped to them so far? Any come back or get rejected?

Sounds like an interesting business - thanks

FlightCenter said...

Serial #50 (N456MF) appears to be on its way to NBAA.

1st leg of the trip -

KABQ - KTUL
2nd leg of the trip -

KTUL - KFTY

Looks like they flew northeast out of ABQ to avoid the weather.

Ringtail said...

"One possibility is that there is some sort of IOU still outstanding on the CofAs being issued for serial #39 and higher that prevents the FAA from recording them as official CoAs."

Stan's eyes sparkled when he read this...its the conspiracy theory again

airtaximan said...

has there been another call for more progress payments?

421Jockey said...

AT,
That's the way it works. Ship 1, invoice 2. You finally figured out why Eclipse can never go broke. (as long as they have a backlog)

mirage00 said...

airtaximan said...
has there been another call for more progress payments?

421Jockey said...
AT,
That's the way it works. Ship 1, invoice 2. You finally figured out why Eclipse can never go broke. (as long as they have a backlog)


More birds are flying... Why does it hurt so much..

I remain amused

airtaximan said...

moo,

I am asking questions, for a reason. It has something to do with the birds flying, not enough of them. Maybe for you, but not for the situation to be bright, on the financial side.

My sense is plans are being laid, and timing is certainly an issue.

The next "round" will not merely be deckchairs moving....

Just a hunch.

So, asking a few harmless questions - why does it hurt you so much?

I think I know why.

Enjoy the show.

gadfly said...

M00

“Why does it hurt so much . . .”

That’s a question that should be asked of Eclipse. The answers are understood by many who watch.

First, delivering unfinished product is an act of desperation.

Second, as those of us who are in manufacturing understand, once a product has left the factory floor, and placed in the hands of the customer, control over quality in future assembly/fixes is lost. And a “re-do” or “add-on” costs far more to accomplish, than had it been done correctly before delivery.

Third, the customers are less than pleased . . . even though they may have insisted on receiving an unfinished product.

The bottom line is a “lose-lose” situation, and seldom increases the bottom line. Overcoming a bad customer experience is possibly the most difficult situation a company may experience.

Some time back, a study was done of such situations. The results indicated that a “good” experience will be shared with one or two other people. A bad experience will be shared by a couple dozen or more people.

Early delivery of unfinished product is a totally bad situation. The old saying is “better late than wrong”. I see nothing in this scenario to change that “age-old” law of doing business.

gadfly

mirage00 said...

Maybe for you, but not for the situation to be bright, on the financial side.

Yeah.. Better bring focus to the "financial strength" of this company since there really isn’t much more to discuss regarding its "paper airplane" that seems to be flying all over the country these days. Ouch...

Still waiting on that AFM review by Stan. Remember the dangerous CG issue? Must have gone away with the pitot issue, RVSM, PC, etc...

I remain amused

double 00

Gunner said...

"there really isn’t much more to discuss regarding its "paper airplane" that seems to be flying all over the country these days."

Wonder why they keep doing such short hops, though? ABQ to PDK is only 1100 NM. Why the stop in Tulsa? They were only on the ground about 45 minutes...sure looks like a fuel stop to me.
Gunner

mirage00 said...

They were only on the ground about 45 minutes...sure looks like a fuel stop to me.

Haven't you heard? It doesn't have a potty! ;)

I remain amused

double 00

The Real Frank Castle said...

Ken's probably driving, and fuel's probably cheaper in Tulsa.

He's such a cheapskate, you know. He's still thinking in 2006 dollars.

The Real Frank Castle said...

Well, Moo-boy finally spoke a word of truth !

Hey, the local WallyWorld has these neat boxes made for quickie oil changes, full of kitty litter.

Stow one under the seat, and no need for a stop !

The Real Frank Castle said...

One other possibility, Gunner....

Tulsa State Fair starts this week, maybe they were going to tether it and put it on the Midway !

Hang it up right next to the Freak Show.

Ringtail said...

Gunner said "Wonder why they keep doing such short hops, though? ABQ to PDK is only 1100 NM. Why the stop in Tulsa?"

Gunner, are you wanting to re-open the range discussion again? We have been around and around with that topic and have concluded that the Eclipse is a 1000 NM plane (plus reserve). If you want 1500NM you buy the CJ.

Ringtail said...

Gunner, I don't know about you, but 1000 NM (plus IFR reserves) with three seats fits my mission perfectly

Ringtail said...

And it's not much more than a new twin recip (Baron)

Ken Meyer said...

frank wrote,

"Ken's probably driving, and fuel's probably cheaper in Tulsa."

Nope. I flew to Atlanta to be at NBAA. Company send you? Or you too low down the totem pole?

And, yes, fuel is cheap in Tulsa.

They stopped there because of RVSM constraints. They don't get full range at FL 270--no jet does, but they can still go far enough for me even that low.

And the trip was pretty impressive really--they flew from Tulsa to Atlanta in 2:06. It took me more than an hour longer to do the same flight in my 340, both of us fighting unusual winds. And I burned just about the same amount of fuel slugging it out 8000 feet lower and a lot slower. The Eclipse would have been a far better choice for this trip; that's the bottom line.

I'll tell you something else interesting--the Eclipse came up with better than book speeds at FL 270 after I figured in the winds winds. The aeromod planes are pretty doggone fast!

So there you have it--serial number 50 right here at NBAA. The train is now way out of the station, but some of you are still trying to figure out how to stop it.

Ken

Ken Meyer said...

Folks here complained that the +/- 3600 hours that Eclipse tested the Eclipse 500 before certification wasn't nearly enough. So, it was with amusement that I read Embraer's plans for the Phenom 100 tonight:

"The Pheonom 100 test campaign will include a fleet of four jets, for an accumulation of about 1,800 flight hours, 600 of which for the maturity design."

Just 1800 hours?

Just 4 jets?

My goodness, if the Eclipse program with 3600 hours and 7 jets (5 of them flying examples) was so unsatisfactory to this audience, what is the Embraer program?

Ken

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Ken,

Nobody said the testing was inadequate, we said it was not the 5-6000 hours they promised - that they bragged about IN ADVANCE - that like so many other things they promised the moon and delivered only moon pies.

You Faithful really need to hook back up with reality as Vern's Napoleonic persecution complex is spilling over via the web - perhaps you have been infected by the evil Betaplane energy and need another treatment - thank Xenu for L. Vern Raburn and Flyanetics, its like the owner's manual to you jet jockey delusion.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

I agree with Ken BTW that the Eclipse, even only partially functioning such as they are, is revolutionary compared to his once-crashed 30 year old piston twin.

Compared to a modern turboprop or jet, it is just a Yugo, but compared to Sky King's ride, it is pretty cool.

Wonder why the all-new super cool aero-mod havin' S\N 50 was relegated to sub-RVSM altitudes on the way to the biggest show of the year?

jetaburner said...

Coldfish:

Great point:
"Compared to a modern turboprop or jet, it is just a Yugo, but compared to Sky King's ride, it is pretty cool."

No wonder he is so blinded by reality. I'm starting to feel sorry for him!

gadfly said...

It’s a bird . . . it’s a plane . . . no, it’s a “choo-choo train” . . . that’s left the station (and is about to leave the tracks).

gadfly

(But leave it alone, and it will come home, wagging its tail behind!)

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Columbia Aircraft declares bankruptcy, Cessna to buy 'certain' assets.

http://www.aero-news.net/

Fascinating story. As with the kit industry, most companies in aviation run on thin to sometimes non-existen margins, driven as much by ego and dreams as by balance sheets and P&L's. Columbia has had a tough road to hoe - their customers and employess deserve to be taken care of - and initial indications are that Cessna intends to do that.

One has to wonder if any other bankruptcy fire sales are in the works, perhaps from the 505........

rcflyer said...

cwmor said,

"Wonder why the all-new super cool aero-mod havin' S\N 50 was relegated to sub-RVSM altitudes on the way to the biggest show of the year?"

Perhaps because a FSDO can take a couple of months to issue an RVSM LOA?

R.C.

EclipseOwner387 said...

Coldwet,

Wasn't Sky King's ride a 310? A 340 is pressurized and larger.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

RCF said

"Perhaps because a FSDO can take a couple of months to issue an RVSM LOA?"

We hear this excuse often, yet Mustangs and other RVSM birds don't seem to face the same issue - better planning? better execution? better planes? better companies?

Could it be that once again Eclipse has hurried something out the door before it was ready in order to pull off a marketing stunt?

Anyone wanna bet S\N 50 has some kluged together Avio NfG suite?

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Ya missed my point EO, Ken's once-crashed ride is 30 years old, of course ANY modern turbine aircraft, or in fact were there a pressurized piston twin of modern design, ANY modern aircraft would be revolutionary by comparison to his slightly dinged 340.

A TBM is, a PC-12 is, a KA-90 is, an Epic is, all revolutionary compared to a 340.

Compare the wee-jet to a Mustang, to a CJ, to a TBM, PC-12 or even the Epic and we find, as you have, that the best thing to do is trade the can of beans before anyone opens it.

jetaburner said...

Coldfish-

I think the Pilatus is coming out with a new add compaign where they have a picture of an e-clips in the back and something like: "enough room to bring the toy jet and your friends."

Gunner said...

Ringtail said:
"Gunner, I don't know about you, but 1000 NM (plus IFR reserves) with three seats fits my mission perfectly"

No argument here. It fits your mission profile.

I haven't done it in a while, but ABQ used to be a regular stop for me in a BE-55. I can recall at least two non-stop trips from ABQ to ATL. Of course it was just me, two full grown adults, a dog and our gear....a few ounces more than the EA-50X can haul for that trip.

With the prevailing tailwinds, it would have taken me just under six hours in a 1978 twin prop dinosaur. Looks like it took N456MF just under 4, with the fuel stop that I didn't require.

Revolutionary.
Gunner

ps: Sky King's "Songbird" was, in fact a Cessna 310-B.

planet-ex said...

If they were looking for cheap fuel in Tulsa, they landed at the wrong airport.

Maybe they needed the extra 5,000 ft of ruway that's not available at Riverside (where the fuel is cheaper).

Gunner said...

planet-
Vern took a two page ad spread in the just-arrived Special Edition AOPA Turbine Edition. Cessna, Diamond, Cirrus and others settled for a single page.

It would be unseemly for Eclipse to appear as though they needed to worry about things like local gas prices. Besides, Deposit money is easy to come by and there's no contractual obligation that it be spent on the Depositor's jet....or even Ken's.

Money to burn buys image. Image is everything to some. ;-)

Gunner

paul said...

"So there you have it--serial number 50 right here at NBAA. The train is now way out of the station, but some of you are still trying to figure out how to stop it."
Do they know the bridge is out?

Niner Zulu said...

So serial #50 will be at NBAA?

I seem to remember looking at #38 at Oshkosh and that was 2 months ago. It's been 60 days since, and only 12 partially-completed jets have been delivered assuming #50 is being delivered now.

So we're up to 6 jets per month, or 72 per year. A far cry from 30 jets per month predicted just 90 days ago by Vern, and no where near the 500 or so per year needed to reach profitablility, and each jet produced still has to go back to ABQ to be retrofitted with a new panel and aero mods. Anyone care to speculate how much that is going to cost the factory? My guess is an amount between 50-100% of what it costs to produce the jet itself.

The train has left the station all right. It's on the wrong track, however, and headed the wrong way.

AlexA said...

Ringtail said...
And it's not much more than a new twin recip (Baron)

Ringtail let him stick to his 17 old Baron.

Gunner said...

Alexa said:
"Ringtail let him stick to his 17 old Baron."

Let's remind everyone that I've never hid my ownership of the 1990 Baron that I fly. It's been a great plane for me.

On the other hand, once you were unmasked as Alejandro Amor; certified single engine, instrument private pilot; owner of a 27 year old SE Mooney...you actually tried to argue that we'd need to check your vast network of Delaware fronts and British Virgin Island shells to find all the "aircraft in your stable". You actually said that! Ouch.

A bit more embarrassing even than those Faithful claiming to have been Mirage owners in their youth, I admit. But I didn't create this image of the Eclipse Depositor. You did.

You really should have offered a ride in the Mooney to Mercedes Segal. She might have been more, ummmm, "receptive" to your overtures. You know? ;-)
Gunner

paul said...

Gunner:
Before he has a chance to say it I will. He's also got his multi.
Now I'm impressed!
As you know if you look at the certificate next to the ratings it also states that the holder is a expert in everything concerning aviation.

Gunner said...

Paul-
Correction noted.

Alexa-
Apology proffered, though it wasn't an error in context, and certainly not intentional. I was simply pointing out that you are certified to fly the 1980 single engine Mooney, in which you buzz about the state of Florida from time to time.

I've no problem with what ANYONE chooses to fly. I've enormous respect for those who reach for more. I just can not stand pretense or BS in the matter.

As always, YMMV.
Gunner

FlightCenter said...

From Aero-News.Net this morning

"Eclipse Aviation delivered its first customer aircraft on December 31, 2006. By the end of the second quarter this year, Eclipse had certified a total of 31 Eclipse 500s and delivered 22 to customers... and as of right now, over 50 completed airplanes have Certificates of Airworthiness. The company's state-of-the-art, high-volume production system is humming with activity as Eclipse assembles customer aircraft at the company's Albuquerque, NM headquarters."

Eclipse Aviation, Soars into NBAA 2007

This statement does not say that Eclipse has delivered over 50 aircraft, only that they have received certificates of airworthiness for over 50 aircraft.

According to this statement, Eclipse has received certificates of airworthiness for ~20 aircraft in Q3.

WhyTech said...

9Z said:

"It's on the wrong track,"

Some bellieve that its off the track.

WT

FlightCenter said...

If you recall, the official plan from Eclipse was that the pitot static fix would be cut into production for serial number 65.

In all probability serial #50 had the pitot static fix retrofit shortly before departure to NBAA.

I noticed that the flight departed 3 hours and 20 minutes later than expected. Perhaps it took a bit longer to get the paperwork complete than they expected.

The RVSM approval will probably occur after they get back from NBAA.

You can review the official plan from Eclipse (as well as projections from some of the critics) for the cut in dates of various functionality on the Aircraft / Cert Milestones tab of this spreadsheet.

Eclipse Aviation Critic Projections

FlightCenter said...

From the Columbia press release, note the last sentence. Cessna isn't a done deal, Columbia is still planning an auction, but it sure does look like Cessna is the front runner.

Columbia Aircraft Receives Debtor-In_Possesion Financing

"Concurrently Columbia filed a motion with the Bankruptcy Court seeking approval for a sale of substantially all of its assets to Cessna Aircraft Company, the world's largest manufacturer of general aviation airplanes as measured by unit sales. As part of that motion, Columbia is also asking the Bankruptcy Court to establish bidding procedures that will enable other interested bidders to submit offers and bid at an auction currently scheduled to be held in November."

Rumors are that Cessna is also interested in EPIC.

FlightCenter said...

Is IPO flight of fancy?

This is an article panning Pogo's planned IPO. Analyst Vaughn Cordle is quoted as saying "It's a bust of a business idea." But he ranks Pogo as the top company in the market because of Crandall's experience.

The article concludes with the following comment on the merits of the IPO, "it can offer investors a chance to throw their money out of a window from an exceptionally great height."

mirage00 said...

bit more embarrassing even than those Faithful claiming to have been Mirage owners in their youth, I admit.

Ummmm there you go again... You're embarassing yourself again. Seems you do that quite often.

I remain amused

double 00

AlexA said...

Gunner,

Your propensity for misrepresentation is only outdone by your hatred for Eclipse. You question Eclipse’s business model and my business acumen but of course you are an expert on failed businesses too ie body building, transport co, physician management service and the list goes on. I’m sure Barbara is very proud of you that you finally hit it big. Congratulations this is what makes this country great.

You keep questioning my aviation expertise and credentials to post on the list. I have none and stated that many times. If you had any sort of retention you would have remembered that I flew an old Cessna 400 for almost 5 years (almost 1400 hours IIRC) and sold it due to the expected delivery of the Eclipse (sold it too early based on projections from Eclipse). By the way if you still can’t find it I will email you pictures.

If it makes you feel better AlexA can’t afford to be in aviation (my wife would agree with you on this one), doesn’t know anything about aviation (my flight instructor would agree with this one) and shouldn’t be posting on this Blog.

Ken Meyer said...

gunner wrote,

"Let's remind everyone that I've never hid my ownership of the 1990 Baron that I fly. It's been a great plane for me."

Your BE-58 Baron is a nice plane. Take a typical flight you did recently in yours--Vicksburg to Dodge City, almost 600 nm as routed. 3:38 it took you in the Baron. That beats driving by a country mile.

But the same route with the same winds would take the Eclipse just 1:54. Almost twice as fast as your Baron. And it would be in pressurized comfort above the weather with the safety only a twin turbine can offer.

In the end, it all depends on what you're trying to accomplish. But for a typical Baron flight, the Eclipse fits the bill very nicely. It offers a lot more capability, turbine safety, faster speed, quiet cabin, pressurization, ability to top the weather, etc etc. And it doesn't cost all that much more than a Baron.

That's one reason there are 2700 orders for the Eclipse--many more than the number of BE-58's ever made.

Ken

airsafetyman said...

"..above the weather with the safety only a twin turbine can offer."

maybe, maybe not. the Vernster himself has said the 100 psi tires are prone to blow-outs and flat-spotting with heavy brake usage. If you lose an engine just before rotation on a wet or icy runway how are you going to stop as there is no anti-skid or thrust reversers? If you lose an engine just after rotation at gross weight the teeny remaining engine will have to accelerate the aircraft to the best rate of clinb speed before it will climb at the book rates. How long does that take? Or will you just whiz into the ice cream parlor off the end of the runway at a nose high attitude?

Gunner said...

Ken said:
"But for a typical Baron flight, the Eclipse fits the bill very nicely."

There's not a word of that which I'd dispute, Ken. The revolutionary Eclipse Twin jet compares favorably to a twin screw, piston aircraft designed decades ago. Way to go.

Alexa-
In one breath you claim I misrepresented something; in the next you admit I was being quite factual. Your ride is a near-30 year old Mooney M20. Dunno why you would have suggested that we check thru Delaware to the BVI in order to discover your "secret planes".

I've not questioned your aviation or business expertise. I've simply pointed out that you are hardly who you claim to be on either front. I appreciate your candor in finally admitting that fact.

As to your mumbled (and off-topic) innuendo, I challenge you to find any business which I've bellied up. Can you say the same about Blossom? That one died hard, no?
Gunner

jetaburner said...

Ken-

You said: "But for a typical Baron flight, the Eclipse fits the bill very nicely."

No question. But that is no longer the competition for e-clips. It was originally when the Vern announced they were going to produce a VLJ for less then $1M. The e-clips I built up with standard features found on comparatable aircraft was $1,943,629. That's almost 2x the cost of a new Baron!

A recent press release posted on this blog suggests that to break even e-clips has to sell 600 planes per year. I would assume that is at the new base price of $1.75M and normally equipped price of $1.95M not at the 2000+ option price (your qoute which I'm very skeptical of). This means they have to move through their order book before they can start selling the jets at a profit. What happens to the company between now and when they can begin to produce planes at a profit Q3 of 2009 (according to the company)? If they make it that far, will they be able to sell 600 VLJs at around $2M each with all the new competition? I don't think so.....

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

Hopefully, EAC won't turn to the auto industry to learn on how to negotiate with the labor unions.

jetaburner said...

9Z-

Excellent point. The risk to reward ratio is so high that I wouldn't be able to justify it even if it was the right aircraft for me. E-clips has so many battles in front of it to become an established, profitable company:
1. They have to finish FIKI and the Avionics. The Avionics issue is a major potential liability.
2. Retrofit all of the existing aircraft (big bucks).
3. Many potential unkown ADs and SBs that could effect their ability to sell additional aircraft.
4. Deploy service centers.
5. Finish training program and sim.
6. Produce 2000+ aircraft that have been sold at a loss.
7. Sell an additional 600 aircraft per year at around $2M.

#'s 6 and 7 are particularly worrisome as I don't see how they are going to keep the volume needed at a sale price of $2M, especially with all the new competition. So if they don't make it but you got your jet what happens to the resale value? What are the chances of them becoming a long term, reputable, and reliable aviation company?
Seems like a lot of risk when the only reward is that you may have saved $500k by being an early depositor (which ironically may bring the company down). These are huge hurtles.

On another note. What turboprop did you sell?

AlexA said...

Gunner said “I've simply pointed out that you are hardly who you claim to be on either front.” Gunner more misrepresentations? Please point to any posting that I “claimed to be anything that was untrue.”

In reference to your innuendo check your facts Blossom did not “die hard.” As far as the 20 or so corporate entities you created and the State the closed down due to various reasons, I have neither the time nor inclination to look them up. Nor would it add anything to this Blog.

You have made plenty of statements that discredit you (period). No need to rehash history.

I will give you one more kudo you have an uncanny ability to distort other individuals statement to suit your needs. Great!

I’m sure you will be happy with your 3 D-jets it going to be a great upgrade from a 17 year old Baron. If you are so comfortable with you D-Jet decision I wonder why you spend so much energy trying to put Eclipse down. You would have done much more damage to Eclipse (which appears to be your motive) by sticking to the facts and not distorting other bloggers statements.

Gunner said...

Alexa-
Good try at continued off topic innuendo. As you know, based on 5 of YOUR Florida corps that were "Involuntarily Dissolved" by the State, this is the common method by which we all close non-operating corporate entities in Florida and many other states.

The difference between yours and mine is that mine didn't wind up in Federal Courts with various injunctions for Internet Piracy and Judgments from stiffed vendors. Yours did. Wanna see the documents?

Now, back on topic. I hardly spend the kind of energy "putting Eclipse down" that you spend spreading falsehoods about their competition. This, despite your continued appeal to emotion by charging me with "hating" the company. The EA-50X is what it is...a faster alternative to a 50+ year old, twin engine, piston prop design. Even Ken recognizes the validity of that comparison.

As I've repeatedly stated, the D-Jet also is what it is: an entry level personal jet with none of the hype, diverted Deposits or unprofessional management that has become the Eclipse legacy.

What's not to like?
Gunner

rcflyer said...

At NBAA, Gulfstream announced two innovations: aircraft datalink and an electronic flight bag.

The datalink will transmit fault data to the ground from the aircraft in flight.

The flight bag will contain items such as the AFM and the Quick Reference Handbook for the aircraft.

Gulfstream is to be congratulated for incorporating leading-edge technology into their aircraft to make them easier and more economical to maintain, as well as easier to fly.

R.C.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

FYI - Electronic Flight Bags and datalink predate Gulfstream AND the by innuendo soon-to-be-someday Eclipse concepts by about a decade (in both airline and military service) - they both DO provide efficiencies of Mx and operation as promised - and are cool, when properly applied.

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

Raburn said that in terms [snip] recyclability, the 500 is "already green."
I'm not touchin' that line. Biting my tongue to control the giggles, but that's as far as I go.

"I'm always wrong," he said.
Somebody must have slipped a dose of scopalamine into the Atlanta water supply. ;-)
Gunner

AlexA said...

9Z,

Thank you. There is no disagreement from me that Eclipse has been able to alienate a good portion of the aviation community. Eclipse has also over sold, under delivered and over hyped. I made a business decision to sell my Cessna 400 series aircraft believing that with the imminent arrival of the Eclipse, the market for twins would plummet. History shows that the “imminent” wasn’t so imminent, luckily for me the price of the twins has plummeted for a number of reasons. I got out just in time.

I for one see the recent change for the better with Eclipse. Peg has taken a leading role in trying to deliver what has been promised. If you notice there has not been much fanfare lately with the number of deliveries, reports are that the plane is meeting the performance numbers and the quality of the product continues to improve. As I mentioned in a previous post I actually swapped my position for a later position hoping that more bugs would be identified and worked out. Unfortunately some of the critics/haters do not have the experience of speaking with the customer support staff, sales, engineers, etc, that depositors/buyers do. I am always impressed by the professional attitude, candor and willingness to address any concern.

jetaburner said...

alexa-

You label us "critics/haters" and I think that is a bit unfair. I've never had an axe to grind with e-clips since I've never been interested in the plane. Am I a critic? Absolutely. But I'm a critic with every aircraft and aircraft manufacturer because I am entrusing my life to their product. Do I hate e-clips? No way. Actually I hope they succeed because it will only create more competition and therefore it will be beneficial for consumers (it actually already has). I'm just very skeptical of a company who has made so many grandiose predictions and promises which they haven't met.

jetaburner said...

Alexa-

You might fairly ask me why do I participate on this blog if I don't have anything at stake? Because I love aviation, planes, and especially jets. I also have relevant experience that I think may be useful for some to hear. I've bought and operated 2 turboprops and I'm SP typed in and regularly fly a CJ2. Therefore, I have a somewhat unique experience to share with fellow critics and the faithful. Take my opinion with a grain of salt but I do not hate e-clips.

AlexA said...

Jetaburner said “You label us "critics/haters" and I think that is a bit unfair.” I agree Jetaburner.

I appreciate your input and candor.

Unfortunately, it appears that this Blog has been used by competitors and individuals with the only agenda to hurt Eclipse financially (dirty pool if you will). I agree that every aircraft and manufacturer has its short comings. If the exchange is meaningful (ie 9Z, Ken Meyer) there is a lot for a novice like myself to learn.

The Real Frank Castle said...

Whats-her-name sez...

"If the exchange is meaningful (ie Ken Meyer) there is a lot for a novice like myself to learn."

OK, learn this. Oh, wait, you already know how to attack people.

As I do.

Kenny sez...

"Nope. I flew to Atlanta to be at NBAA. Company send you? Or you too low down the totem pole?

Good cheap shot there, Kenny. Makes me proud.

You actually went back on your word that you wouldn't reply to anymore of my posts.

Glad to see you still craw-dad with the best of 'em.