Friday, September 21, 2007

The Eclipse in Perspective

From Jetaburner:

My real point is not how great the TBM is but that e-clips has not created anything revolutionary. There are already similar products in the market price. All they have done is sacrificed range, payload, and size for two jet engines which gives them an advantage on speed, altitude, and jet prestige. That is important to some people but not all.

Here's another example of how the e-clips has not created a "revolutionary" product. The Piper Meridian is priced the same as the e-clips I just built ($1,943,629) and carries about the same payload with full fuel (556 lbs) and goes about the same distance (1000nm). It also has an advanced cockpit that is fully functional and certified, is FIKI certified, and has been available for the last 7 years. The only advantages e-clips has over the Meridian is that it has jet 2 engines, goes faster, and flies higher. But it does this by sacrificing cabin size and efficiency (E-clips and Meridian have about the same range but the Meridian only holds 170 gallons vs. 251 in the e-clips). Piper sells around 50 of them per year. Why does e-clips think that the market is 500+ per year? What happens to e-clips if they are wrong? Do they fail and the plane ends up like the starship? Or do they raise the price and face even more competition?

A lot of owner pilots who never thought they could afford a jet have jet fever based on unrealistic initial promises made by e-clips. Had e-clips produced what they originally stated they would have created a truly revolutionary product. I probably would have lost a lot of money on my plane but would have bought one myself and been very happy. The reason there is an e-clips critic site is because their statements and assumptions were so outlandish that people with real aviation and jet experience questioned it. You don't see a Honda, cessna, piper jet critic site because these manufacturers never made outlandish claims. Now that we are approaching the finish line, I see nothing revolutionary, amazing, or truly beneficial to the e-clips jet. If I really needed a jet, and couldn't stand the idea of propellers, I could only afford to spend $2M, I would buy a used CJ instead of an e-clips.

The fact is there are a lot of buyers out there like me who can afford a jet today but choose a turboprop instead for a variety of reasons. They make sense. I don't see that changing.

115 comments:

hummer said...

Jetaburner. .
Reminds me of a dozen eggs I got one time that were almost fresh.
A Piper Meridian is almost an Eclipse VLJ.
Eclipse thinks the market is 500/year because they have at least 1,400 hard orders.
If Eclipse is wrong, they produce 1,400 and introduce their concept jet.
Why raise the price? Oil is $80 and going up. Airlines are bad and getting worse. Open your eyes and look into the 21st Century. You're comparing apples and oranges. Fly Southwest and sell your plane. . it's more cost effective.

paul said...

Ken:

Why do you hate propellers so much?
I would rather blend a blade or even have to replace one rather than replace the entire fan disc on a Pratt. The Eclipse Pratt does not have individual blades that can be replaced, the disc is one piece.

gadfly said...

hummer

'Can't resist this one . . . about the eggs.

They arrived at the submarine base (Pearl Harbor) in crates, one month old. Fast forward about seven weeks into a sixty day patrol, up in Petropovlosk (uninvited "guests") looking in "mono-vision" through a periscope at the white scenery of Kamchatka Peninsula. Breakfast, "almost fresh" eggs, very flat yellow yokes, surrounded by a "transluscent lime green", fried in rancid butter. And you eat the stuff, because there is no choice. You've heard of green eggs and ham? . . . been there, done that!

If Eclipse is the only choice for VLJ, then "maybe" someone will show up to breakfast.

gadfly

(But we had a "head" . . . lavatory!)

Ken Meyer said...

Jet A wrote,

"The Piper Meridian is priced the same as the e-clips I just built ($1,943,629) and carries about the same payload with full fuel (556 lbs) and goes about the same distance (1000nm)."

I think you're fixated on making yourself feel good about the TBM. I'm okay with that.

But I'm not okay with you distorting facts to make your point.

You just priced out a fully-loaded Eclipse with options nobody would ever get (like a sixth seat AND a refreshment center when it is physically impossible to use both). And then you compared it to the base model Meridian with no options to raise the price and lower the payload.

The Meridian with options doesn't have any 556 lb full-fuel payload. It doesn't cost just $1.9 M. It doesn't go the same distance the Eclipse does. Its cabin is narrower than the Eclipse (and has less volume per passenger than the Eclipse). It has one engine. It has a propeller.

Now, I do think there is a very useful purpose served in an honest, open, fair comparison of the capabilities of Eclipse vs the Meridian. But that's not your message contained.

I think the Meridian and TBM are fine planes, but they serve a different purpose and attract only a small niche of buyers.

Your suggestion that there simply is no huge market for the "non-revolutionary" Eclipse is not supported by the facts. At this instant in time, Eclipse has a problem every manufacturer should have--They have two thousand more orders than they can possibly fill in the next year!

Somebody obviously doesn't quite buy into your assessment :)

Ken

hummer said...

Gadfly
We use to chase you guys around on a galloping greyhound (destoyer for the landlubbers). It does however, allow for a good analogy: any difference between what you were on an todays submarine? Probably no difference whatsoever. Both go under the water and are fighting ships, right?
Kinda like comparing a Piper Meridian with an Eclipse.

gadfly said...

Ken

Sometime back, I suggested to you that if you stick with what you know you'll be OK. Do you really know (about) what you say?

Me thinks you step over the boundary on occasion. Step back a few feet, and keep your comments "believable". You might even make "friends", and maybe even become an "authority". It's a goal worthy of achievement.

'Until then, I'll check in, now and then, to see what the true authorities have to share.

gadfly

(Allow Vern speak for himself . . . he's a "big boy", . . . he should be able to take care of the attacks against the paper clips, don't cha know?)

gadfly said...

Hummer

'Funny man, you! "Diesel boats forever!" If you are trying to make a comparison, OK, I buy that: Paper Clips = Tin Can (DD) = Target!

gadfly

hummer said...

Gadfly
You old salt. You have a great weekend hear! BTW. . thanks for
your service.

gadfly said...

Hummer

It has been a true pleasure . . . the fulfillment of a lifelong dream! Not many folks can say that they acheived everything of which they dreamed when they were four or five years old, but in my case, everything has come true, thanks to a wonderful God.

gadfly

(For you who still have dreams, make sure of your goals. And be honest in your assessment of the little jet. To "cover" for someone else's mistakes or shortcomings will come back to haunt you, "big time". To dream big is admirable, but be careful in whom you place your dreams. Advice of a dinosaur! . . . get my drift!)

hummer said...

And not to leave the subject for just a minute. We should all say a prayer for the crew of the USS Grunion (SS-216) and their families, a submarine just recently found. I think it was north, north east of where you were on patrol, Gadfly. Further, there is one great special series coming on by Ken Burns of PBS starting this sunday. Worth Tivoing.

gadfly said...

To hummer . . . et al:

Submarines/Jets . . . so much in common:

Whether SS216 running on four V16 GE engines, or SS416 running on four Fairbanks-Morse ten cylinder-twenty piston 2cycle engines,(with a few hundred tons of "cells/batteries") and two propellers a few hundred feet below sea level, or a little jet flying a few miles above sea-level, the pilot/crew/passengers are all alone . . . depending solely on the craft in which they are flying for return to normal life. Step out of a submarine, or an aircraft, and life ceases in minutes or seconds. Both "fly" through a foreign medium, unable to support human life.

In either case, we depend on a small space for life. It is no tivial thing . . . and not dependent on the limited arguments of some “blogger”. It either works, or it doesn’t. Human life is fragile, able only to survive in a narrow limit of temperature and pressure, a narrow limit of oxygen and CO2. I, personally, have experienced some of those extremes . . . it is nothing to be taken lightly.

You, who would put your trust in the little jet, should be more thorough in some of your investigation. The boundaries between success and failure are extremely narrow. I am amazed at the silly arguments that break out on whether or not the little jet shall be a success, . . . missing far more important subjects.

That, for the moment, is enough for further thought.

gadfly

(Thanks for the “heads up” on the PBS programming. I’ll share that info with a former shipmate.)

gadfly said...

Paul

One last comment:

Personally, I love propellers ("screws") . . . big brass nine-foot diameter four bladed with a five-foot pitch, two each counter-rotation, mounted on two steel shafts, running at a redline of 360rpm, with (believe it or not) lignum-vitae (wood) bearings. Inside the hull at full rpm, when they "cavitate", sounds like two rock-crushers, grinding big boulders. At low rpm, quieter than a mouse on tippy-toes.

gadfly

(And you think the little jet is quiet!)

421Jockey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jetaburner said...

Ken-

My purpose is to show you historically how big the market is for a new plane that costs around $1.9 to $2M. Didn't know you can't add both a refreshement center and a sixth seat. The seat is 33.6lbs and refreshment center is 12.8lbs. Really not a big deal either way. That plane is really small!!

We've already discussed previously how extremely tapered the e-clips is and therefore how misleading your one data point of cabin width is in the e-clips. I've been in the plane and it is definitely smaller than the Meridian (I owned one for 4 years).
The Meridian has 6 seats, standard, and good luggage space behind the seats. There is no comparison in size.

All planes are compromises regardless of their powerplants. Again, do I think that a twin jet is an up sell over a single turboprop, absolutely. No question that the market prefers jets. But the market also chooses King Airs, Pilatuses, and TBMs over Citations every day. I'm one of them. I'm not trying to prove to you how great the TBM is or a turboprop is etc. My point is, and please try to understand this and discuss it, is that I don't see a demand for 500+ small jets per year that cost about $2M. The e-clips isn't revolutionary when it comes to range, payload, and size. Do you agree with that statement? It is revolutionary by offering a twin jet for about $2M but you have to give up range, payload, and size to get that.

Back in the real world comparing the Meridian and e-clips. You will find once you own your e-clips that in a lot of airspace you will be held down at or below FL310 b/c you are significantly slower than real jets. How do I know? I fly there today in my TBM and above that in the CJ2. Rarely, do I fly the CJ2 in the 30s. ATC prefers me in the 40s because of the congested airspace in the 30s. Add a SID, STAR, a longer taxi than 30lbs and you will see a dramatic reduction in the useable range of your e-clips. I bet for a lot of trips the Meridian will actually go further and carry the same payload then the e-clips.

Reminds me of another story of a gentleman who owned a TBM and reguarly flew Miami to NYC. He upgraded to a CJ1 and could no longer make the trip even though the plane has the same range of the TBM. Why? Because NY center brings you down before DC and your fuel consumption goes through the roof in the jet. He traded the CJ1 in and bought another TBM. True story.

Again, my point is not to toute the TBM but rather show real world examples of how there are already similiar type products in the market. I couldn't care less what you, or any other members of the blog, think about the TBM. I only use it b/c that is what I know and have experience with that is similiarly priced. As you pointed out earlierly, comparing the e-clips to a CJ2 is unfair as the CJ2 is a real jet.

jetaburner said...

Good news for all of us: According to Phil Boyer with AOPA:

SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE SETS STAGE TO ELIMINATE USER FEES

I apologize for the intrusion of another e-mail this week, but this one is to not only convey GREAT news, but also to truly thank those of you who made phone calls or communicated in any fashion with your Senator. This morning the Senate Finance Committee passed the “American Infrastructure Investment and Improvement Act” — the Baucus/Grassley bill— and by doing so they have endorsed a tax-based system of funding the Aviation Trust Fund, and set the stage for eliminating User Fees.

As you know, I called on you mid-afternoon Wednesday to contact your U.S. Senator, and in retaliation to our efforts, subsequently Senators Trent Lott (R-MS) and John Rockefeller (D-WV) wrote seven amendments to attack general aviation. Your calls not only secured the vote on the Baucus/Grassley bill, but the calls also assured that the committee would not adopt those seven amendments. Great work!

This is a significant victory for general aviation. We still have challenges ahead but with the continued support from you, I am confident we will be successful!

Thanks so much,

Phil Boyer
AOPA President

jetaburner said...

Hummer-

My point earlier, as I explained to Ken, that today's offering by e-clips as built up by me on their website ($1,943,629 w/ a full fuel payload of 552lbs) is not revolutionary and in fact does not do more than the similiarly priced Meridian that has been available for 7 years. I agree that 2 turbofans are better than 1 turboprop. That is not my arguement.

My point is that every plane is a compromise and e-clips has not changed that. When e-clips originally announced a twin jet for <$1mm that carries 4 people 1450nm that was revolutionary. Suddenly folks who could only afford mooneys, barons, and bonanzas could afford a jet. Could they sell 5k airplanes at those figures? Most definitely. But that is not the plane they built nor was it the price I got today.

Today's e-clips is just another offering that allows the consumer more choices. That is good thing. A lot of people will give up cabin size, payload, and range to have a twin jet. But the real question is how many are there out there that can afford to own and operate a $2M jet? That's my point. The historical data shows that the market is a couple of hundred a year, tops. I don't see it changing just because it is now a jet as opposed to a single turboprop. Ask yourself, are there hundreds of owner pilots that didn't want to upgrade from their piston aircraft to a turboprop because it wasn't a jet? I don't think so. As far as penetration into the turboprop fleet there will be some, no question. But I have not met one owner of a TBM (I know many), Pilatus, or King Air that thinks the e-clips is worth while. There are a couple of TBM drivers that are interested in CJs and Mustangs but everyone I've spoken too thinks the e-clips is too small and doesn't carry enough, far enough.

421Jockey said...

JetA,
I think that you need to fast forward 3 or 4 years. I know that this is a stretch, but let's assume for a moment that Eclipse is successful to the point that at least they deliver 1000 aircraft before moving on to the EA600. This means that there will be hundreds of used EA500s in the used market that will cost substantially less than a new jet.

I don't know about you, but I purchased 4 used aircraft before buying my first new plane. By the time that Eclipse has delivered 1000 jets, and the used market will be filled with used EA500s, who is going to buy a 30 or 40 year old twin Cessna, 30 year old twin turboprop, or even (heaven forbid) a 15 year old single turboprop.

The VLJ is here to stay, and it will render the value of the aforemntioned aircraft near worthless. Perhaps it is Eclipse, perhaps something else, but as much as I would currently trade you your TBM for my delivery next month, in 5 years, the TBM is obsolete.

I am jeleous now, but the turboprop era is soon over.
421

jetaburner said...

Hummer-

FYI.... As for me not looking into the future. I invest in high tech companies so I am always looking into the future. But I learned my lesson early in aviation to let others be the early adopters. After 11 AOG issues in 4 years in my 2001 Meridian I finally sold it. Most of the AOG issues was with the ADAHRS and Meggitt System. At the time, a new advanced cockpit.

jetaburner said...

421Jockey-

People have been predicting the end of the turboprop for more than a decade. Socata is having its best year ever. The TBM850 was on the cover and featured by Flying magazine. The TBM700 was named best used personal turboprop last month in Flying magazine. I bought my C2, a 2003, 2 years ago for $2.25M. Today it is worth $2.25M. It will continue to do things that the tiny jet can only dream such as carry 4 adults, 3 large dogs, lots of baggage 780nm in comfort. I carry 4 to 6 adults all the time in it and go 1200nm with sweating. I put my bikes in the plane as well.

My friend is taking 7 buddies to go golfing this Wednesday with his Pilatus. My other friend, who could have easily afforded a real jet, regularly puts his dirt bikes in his Pilatus. Every year hundreds of King Airs, Pilatuses, TBMs, and Meridians are bought by people and corporations who could've afforded a real jet but chose the turboprop for number of different reasons. As I said before, every airplane is a compromise. I am not worried about the value of my TBM.

421Jockey said...

JetA,
I agree with everythng you say.......Today.

In 5 years, for most people, a plane with a propeller will be like you buying a new PA-32 today. (and we both know it is a great aircraft, it ias just percieved as being out of date)

The times are a changin.......

gadfly said...

The “paper clips” reminds me of the Porsche 914/6 . . . sort of a “sports car” at VW prices . . . and, with the paper-clips, pretending to be a competitor of the Checker Marathon (air-taxi). Too much with too little, too late.

gadfly

(It's difficult to fault a turbo-prop, combining the best of both worlds, piston and pure-turbo . . . especially with the economy and safety that is not found in either extreme.)

WhyTech said...

jab said:

"There are a couple of TBM drivers that are interested in CJs and Mustangs but everyone I've spoken too thinks the e-clips is too small and doesn't carry enough, far enough."

This is 100% consistent with my experience. I have a network of aviation friends and acquaintances who are mostly highly experienced, with above average incomes, and almost all are aircraft owners currently. To the best of my knowledge, not a single one is or has considered an E-clips, and I cant remember even one mention of E-clips that I havent initiated.

WT

WhyTech said...

421 said:

"The times are a changin......."

Yeah, sure. The demise of the turboprop has been predicted every decade for the last three decades. Cessna 172's, 182,s, 206's are selling very well today some 50+ years after the first ones rolled off the production lines, as are Bonanza's. American Champion has a very nice business building airplanes designed in the 40's.

Time and technology will eventually kill the demand for many of these airplanes, but your time horizon is off by close to an order of magnitude.

WT

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

Jetaburner. .
For your FYI and bad experience. .
Just because something doesn't work out the first time, don't give up.
I was married before, got divorced
but I didn't stop liking girls.

WhyTech said...

hummer said:

"But, gentlemen, jets are the future. Props are the past.
It is a simple as that."

I recommend that you not hold your breath until the turboprops are gone from the scene.

WT

paul said...

Props are the past? Someone has bought the rights to the DHC-6.
I doubt if they're going to hang fanjets on it. There isn't another plane in the world that can do what the DHC-6 can.
To predict that turboprops are obsolete is absurd.

hummer said...

Give me the good Ole Days.
Flying a Beech 18 at night over gross in a thunderstorm on a ADF approach with one runway and a 20 knot crosswind. Gee. .sure wish my friends, wife and dogs were on board.
Gotta Love It.
Whytech. . .
You are absolutely right. Can't hold my breathe that long. You ready to convince us that hand propping should never have been done away with? Just us sissies have heat and airconditioning?
Explain the merits of open cockpits, please. Let's do away with stormscopes. Makes flying much more interesting and great hangar stories. And in the old days, didn't have ELTs. There not much good anyway, are they?

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

God love the faithful.

New value-proposition. Old rules do not apply. The dinosaurs will die. Just buy now and you cn make money by holding it for a little while.

We have seen this all before friends, the Tech-Bubble of the late 90's (when the Eclipse was born), and the S&L collapse a decade before that.

Speculators making money without adding value to overvauled stock being dishonestly hyped - disuptive business models, the 'new economy', blah blah blah.

The only way to make the Eclipse seem revolutionary is to compare it to 30 year-old piston twins and ancient bizjets - I mean the way these ridiculous comparisons keep going how long will it be until one of the Faithful compares the Wunderjet to the Sabreliner in terms of fuel burn or the GII for Mx costs.

Never mind the autopilot that drops out during descents (won't that be fun in hard IMC), the wobbly pitch and roll (passengers love that, reminds them of being on a boat), the INOP GPS, FMS, etc - the plane burned 3GPH less than the book projected (that's got to save what, $15\hr in fuel costs - wow!) - that's the beauty of it!!

airsafetyman said...

"Vern cautioned me to go easy on the brakes. EA 500 doesn't have anti-skid and its 100 psi main tires can easily be flat-spotted or blown out if you have lead feet on the rudder pedals."

As in trying to stop?

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Borrowing a page from the book of Gadfly...

Some years ago, the best and brightest minds in the most powerful and well-funded armed service on the planet at the time (the USAF) decided, after much review, many studies, test after test, simulations upon simulations, and many live fire exercises that the then 'new' technology of anti-aircraft missile had rendered the gun-armed fighter aircraft obsolete.

So convinced of the superiority of their new technology, they convinced pilots and maintainers and logisticians and generals, and as the most powerful fighter aircraft of the time came online it had no gun, and was bristling with technology, a highly educated two man crew flew it, and it was armed with all the missiles it could carry.

It went into battle against 'lesser' technology, two decades older fighters, no radar, simple instruments, flown by farmers, armed only with cannon and guns.

The F-4 Phantom II, the most successful combat aircraft in history, was shot down regularly by MiG 17's during the early part of Vietnam - UNTIL it got a gun.

So by all means my dear predict the end of the turboprop and the piston aircaft - secure in the knowledge your 'superior' technology will beat those other poor saps in their dilapidated prop-jobs - the lesson you will eventually learn is called hubris.

BTW, 2007 marks the 75th anniversary of Beechcraft and the Staggerwing, the 70th anniversary of the Beech 18, and the 60th anniversary of the Beechcraft Bonzanza - a design in continuous production, to this very day. Congratulations Walter, wherever you may be - ya' done good.

Will Eclipse survive to 75? I doubt it, but that is part of what makes me a critic. One thing is for sure though, regardless of which side of the discussion we are all on, we all do love airplanes and flying and that is something.

Blue skies!

WhyTech said...

hummer said:

"You ready to convince us that hand propping should never have been done away with?"

You need to unsuspend your critical thinking and consider how absurd your position is. You oversimplify everything with one wave of the (jet) hand. Who said anything about hand propping or ADF's? Have you noticed that almost eveything that flys today (newly produced acft) has a glass panel? Are there any acft in production without a starter? Technology is rapidly adopted where increased utility and economics make sense. So far, the turbofan doesnt get the job done for many applications when utility and cost are considered. Until this happens, the turboprop will be with us, and if oil goes to $100 per barrel as some believe it will, the current boom in turboprops will only grow larger.

WT

Ken Meyer said...

jetA wrote,

"My point earlier, as I explained to Ken, that today's offering by e-clips as built up by me on their website ($1,943,629 w/ a full fuel payload of 552lbs) is not revolutionary and in fact does not do more than the similiarly priced Meridian that has been available for 7 years."

See, JetA, that's just wrong.

Maybe it doesn't do what YOU want it to do, but it sure as heck does what a lot of people want it to do.

Take this typical flight an Eclipse 500 with aeromods did a couple of days ago. Two hours 48 minutes and 1100 lbs of fuel. By my calculation, your TBM would take about 45 minutes longer but burn an almost identical amount of fuel. You'd be slugging it out in the weather while the Eclipse is flying over it. You'd have the noise and vibration of a prop; the Eclipse driver has the security and quiet of two turbofan engines.

By my calculation, the Meridian would take an hour longer than the Eclipse on the same flight. And, by the way, the Meridian does NOT have the same full-fuel payload as the Eclipse; that's just not true.

And neither is the Meridian cabin a whole lot bigger. It's got 6 seats--if you need 6 seats that's fine. But if you don't, the Eclipse cabin with just 5 seats is actually pretty spacious--take a peek at this cabin comparison to see the relative size of the two, along with some bigger aircraft.

In the end, it all depends on what you want. You could carry more in a TBM, but not in a Meridian. But that extra hauling capacity of a TBM would be wasted capacity for me. And it would be wasted capacity for a bunch of people.

I just found out that the Eclipse flight I pointed out carried 3 guys and their luggage for a trip to New York. I never carry more than that.

Every plane has its plusses and minuses. You seem to want to emphasize the advantages of a turboprop without recognizing its disadvantages or the advantages of the jet. That's okay with me, but it suggests that you're not really looking to objectively compare these two aircraft. 2700+ orders are testament to the fact that a pretty good number of people are able to see the merit in the particular mix of advantages that the Eclipse 500 offers.

Do you happen to know the total number of TBM's ever sold? There's a story there if you're openminded enough to see it.

Ken

hummer said...

Whytech. . .
Let's get very critical and simple:
Cost Justify the private owner/operator of any aircraft today
as compared to commericial airlines.

WhyTech said...

hummer said:

"Cost Justify the private owner/operator of any aircraft today
as compared to commericial airlines."

Bottom line: airplanes are expensive toys for the owner/pilot. I have made this point (sometimes in other words) many time here. What's your point?

WT

hummer said...

charter, bus, rail or car.

cj3driver said...

jab said:
"…There are a couple of TBM drivers that are interested in CJs and Mustangs but everyone I've spoken too thinks the e-clips is too small and doesn't carry enough, far enough."

WT said:
”…This is 100% consistent with my experience. I have a network of aviation friends and acquaintances who are mostly highly experienced, with above average incomes, and almost all are aircraft owners currently. To the best of my knowledge, not a single one is or has considered an E-clips, and I cant remember even one mention of E-clips that I havent initiated.”

WT JAB,

I agree. I’m the move up poster boy.

172
PA32
PA46 Malibu Mirage
P46T JetProp
CJ
CJ1
CJ3

So, lets see… when I was in the market (2003) to move-up from the JetProp I had $2.2 million to spend. I was choosing between,

1. TBM (1-3 yr old)
2. Pilatus (3-5yr old)
3. KingAir (3-8yr old)
4. Meridian (new $1.7)
5. CJ (5yr old)
6. Citations (numerous older)

All about the same price point at the time. After careful and exhaustive (but fun) comparisons, I chose the CJ.

I looked at the Eclipse is was just too small for me. I need six seats (or more) plus luggage. In the end, the speed of the CJ (along with a case of jet fever) overrode the TBM and Pilatus. I ‘m sure I would have bought a new Mustang at $2.3 (if it was available then).

I’m not saying there isn’t a market for the Eclipse. There is. Its just not 500 per year…. Not even 200 IMO. There are just too many other viable choices when in the $2 million dollar price range.

The turboprop market will continue to grow. After all what is a turboprop but a jet engine with a propeller attached!

I will say jets are intimidating (at first). A low time pilot will feel more confident in a Meridian, JetProp, TBM or Pilatus. There is a perception that the time and energy needed to transition from a single to a jet is overly burdensome. Insurance is an issue, and there is the inconvenience (and expense) of a pro-pilot. So may owner/operators who can easily afford a jet will go turboprop.

One of my friends just decided on a turboprop for this reason alone. He could easily afford a CJ3. I’m a little different, Heck, when I bought my Mirage, I didn’t even have an instrument rating.

I can also actually see someone upgrading from an Eclipse to a TBM or Pilatus. One would think that a twinjet was the upgrade!

This is not to knock the Eclipse. Its merely an additional opinion of value from someone who has been there. If the company survives, it will certainly have a place alongside the other dinosaurs in the market.

WhyTech said...

Ken said:

"2700+ orders are testament to the fact that a pretty good number of people are able to see the merit in the particular mix of advantages that the Eclipse 500 offers. "

Ken,

Let's see some conclusive proof of 2700 "orders." I think that you may be the only one on the planet who truly believes this to be the case.

WT

hummer said...

My point is, was and will be:
Small Jets, single engine and twin engine are the future.
Props are not the future.
Eclipse may or may not specifically be the future.
And Simple to me is a compliment.
Thank God I'm a simple person.
Thank you for mentioning it.

cj3driver said...

Ken said;

"… 2700+ orders are testament to the fact that a pretty good number of people are able to see the merit in the particular mix of advantages that the Eclipse 500 offers…. "

Ken,

Cessna says they have now sold over 420 Mustangs. In May 07, and they were at 320. It appears they have taken orders for an additional 100 planes in the last four months. That’s over 25% increase in Cessna’s order book.

During the same time period there were plenty of Eclipse’s to choose from at a million less, ... and I don’t think there were 25% more Eclipse’s sold. In fact, Eclipse would have needed to sell 675 planes over the same period to match the growth rate.

Eclipse should have sold at least 166 planes over the same period, … just to keep up with thier proposed production rate. Even at a rate of 200 planes per year, Eclipse should have sold 75 units over the same time period. Did they? … doubtfull, since there is such a glut of Eclipse positions on the market at below factory cost.

Doesn’t this raise a red flag?

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Another example which I have oft repeated is the famous exchange following the explosion of one of the fuel cells on the Apollo 13 Command Module, as dramatized on the excellent movie by Tom Hanks.

When the telemetry data was being analyzed in Houston following the explosion:

Gene Kranz: EECOM, is this an instrumentation problem, or are we looking at real power loss here?

Sy Liebergot: It's, it's reading a quadruple failure - that can't happen! It's, it's got to be instrumentation.

Can you say stand-by instruments neighbor?

Sure, I knew you could.

WhyTech said...

CJ3 said:

"One of my friends just decided on a turboprop for this reason alone. He could easily afford a CJ3."

I am somewhat in this camp as well. I consider the CJ3 to be the ultimate persoanl acft. There is not a lot to be gained in "moving up" from a CJ3 unless one has a need for more speed or range, and even then, small incremental improvements in speed and range come at a disproportionate cost premium.

I fly multiple acft for personal transportation and enjoyment. Its all I can do to put 100 hour per year per acft. I really dont believe this to be enough to stay proficient and safe in a CJ3 and I dont want the hassle of having to call a 2nd pilot everytime I want to go somewhere. (If I had a "must do" business travel schedule, this would be different.) The insurance (vs my PC12) would be triple, the operating costs would be 3x-4x, and I wouldnt have much to show for it except the enormous satisfaction of flying a CJ3 - definitely worth something, but not 3x-4x for 100 hours per year.

So, the PC-12 gives me a slightly larger cabin than the CJ3, with a cargo door, and gets where I want to go the same day as I would arrive in the CJ. Definitely not the same wow factor, but that comes from my turbine helicopter, which I can afford only because I didnt spend all my money on the CJ!

WT

Troglodyte said...

Re: Breaking (anti-skid and thrust reversers) and turboprops vs. jets:

There are some considerations that become much more critical when operating a jet. One is operations on contaminated runways which are, I suspect, going to be a major challenge for the Eclipse as well as the other small jets. Lots of owners are going to want to operate from smaller fields where accurate runway condition and breaking action reports are difficult or impossible to obtain. And it makes a big difference.

It is interesting to note that the correction factors published by Cessna (approximate, and to be considered minimums) for the Citation 501 requires multiplying the Landing Field Length by a factor of 1.45 for a wet runway (<0.01”), 2.35 for water < .5” on the runway, 2.4 for snow up to 1”, and 2.8 for ice. I do not know if Eclipse has published numbers for contaminated runways, but I would love to know what they are.

I think that Ken mentioned in a previous post that the landing distance (ISA, Sea Level, max landing weight) is under 2800 feet. Let’s say 2300 feet as you usually aren’t landing at max landing weight (talking about routine operations here). This seems pretty reasonable until you add a correction factor which, if you use the Citation numbers (can one of the engineers opine as to whether this might be a reasonable approximation given differences in weight/Vref?), then the numbers might look like this:

Dry: 2,300
Wet: 3,220
Water (.5”): 5,400
Snow: (<1”): 5,520
Ice: 6,440 ft!!!

It’s pretty hard to control whether your airport of intended landing is going to get wet or worse, and sometimes things can change while you are cruising in the sunshine at 41K! You say that no sane pilot would land on ice? What if you don’t know it’s there? Happened to me -- ice under a very thin layer of snow. Ooops. Now your 2,300 ft landing requires more than 6,000 feet!! That’s without a safety factor to account for a real plane, a real pilot, and missing Vref by a few knots.

Pretty sobering and, if you can get over the vibration thing, makes turboprops look pretty good. My vote is for as much help with slowing/stopping as I can get.

Trog

Niner Zulu said...

But, gentlemen, jets are the future. Props are the past.'

Are they? Remember that article someone published a couple of days ago about Dayjet giving global warming "the finger"? Anyone see Al Gore's movie "An Incontinent Truth" or the segment Sean Hannity did about how hypocritical Gore was since he was flying a polluting private jet around to his speaking engagments on global warming?

A lot of things are working against us budding jet buyers. Finally, at the time in many of our lives when the goal is just within reach - BAMM! - it's becoming un-politically corect to fly a jet. Damn, I hate when that happens! Add escalating oil prices, rising jet fuel prices, China, India, no new refineries built in the last 30 years in the US and Al Gore's "carbon offsets" which amount to a pollution tax and we have the makings of a global jet market meltdown.

What's left? Has anyone read articles on ELECTRIC aircraft engines lately? They are on the horizon. Yes, they need props and yes the range sucks. But it's a start, it's eco-friendly and it's VERY politically correct. Even Hollywood liberals like Alec Baldwin would love you and praise you for flying one. You want disruptive - a 300 kt electric aircraft would be disruptive. THAT would be cutting edge technology. That, I think, is probably the real future.

jetaburner said...

Ken

You said:

"Take this typical flight an Eclipse 500 with aeromods did a couple of days ago. Two hours 48 minutes and 1100 lbs of fuel. By my calculation, your TBM would take about 45 minutes longer but burn an almost identical amount of fuel. You'd be slugging it out in the weather while the Eclipse is flying over it. You'd have the noise and vibration of a prop; the Eclipse driver has the security and quiet of two turbofan engines."

Ken-

I just put the above flight you mentioned in my FliteStar for the TBM. The difference is 32 minutes for the TBM700 and 15 minutes for the TBM850. Fuel burn for the 700 was 1072lbs. Since the plane holds a useable 1,883lbs of fuel your available payload with a 400lbs reserve would be 1,263lbs. You could carry 6 and bags no problem. The e-clips, using 400lbs reserve, can carry 742lbs. That is maybe 4 people if they wear their helium underpants and pack lite.

jetaburner said...

CJ3 Driver-

Good example of your decision tree as you have upgraded your aircraft. You and I were in similiar positions in 2003. I started with a B36TC, then a Meridian for 4 years and then to a TBM700 C2 in 2003. My budget was $2 to $2.5M and I came very close to buying a used CJ. The other possibilites was the Pilatus and Conquest 441. The CJ and TBM were the finalist and eventually decided against the CJ as we already had a CJ2 in the family which I had access to and was typed in. That being said, I love the CJ series aircraft and if I didn't have access to the CJ2 I would be in a CJ1 or CJ2 now.

Interesting point, my insurance qoute in the TBM, 0 time, was 1.07% of hull. For the same coverage I was qouted 1.2% in the CJ even though I had over 100hrs and a type rating. Clearly, at that point, the insurance companies thought the single turboprop was a safer bet.

jetaburner said...

hummer-

How do you think small jets will do in Alaska landing on unimproved fields? Saying all props are going to be replaced is just silly. Turboprops are more efficient at lower altitudes, can use shorter fields with higher payloads, can carry more, etc. The military still uses them, commercial services still uses them, and they will continue to serve a very real need in the owner flown market. Look at the price of a Pilatus, KA200 or KA350. People who buy these planes could obviously afford a CJ or better. So how come they've been selling these planes for the last decade while the CJs has been in service?

jetaburner said...

Trog-

Excellent point on stopping data for jets vs. turboprops. I am based in Aspen, CO and regularly fly my TBM and a CJ2 out of here. May sound crazy to the faithful but I prefer to TBM when its cold and snowy. The CJ2 has good anti-lock brakes and low ref speeds but the #1 accident in the CJ series is pilots running the plane off of the end of the runway. It is something that is in the back of my mind on every approach.

The e-clips not having anti-skid brakes nor thrust neutralizers/reversers seems crazy. Just another testiment to how cheaply the plane is built.

EclipseOwner387 said...

JAB,

Comparing a slower $2.8M plus single turboprop to the Eclipse is basically crazy talk. Thanks for playing. Game over. If payload is a huge consideration, then trading off for the slower more expensive TBM may make sense.

But if I was going to pony up those dollars I would go the Whytech (smart) route and buy the Pilatus. With a potty, nobody will care it is slower. It will just be the party bus to paradise!

I think someone is afraid their little TBM (big dollars) is going to lose value when the Eclipse is in full swing. It may, but relax -it fits your mission so just sit back and enjoy it.

Troglodyte said...

Jetaburner

Another thing that the CJ2 has (I think) is a ground flap position. Is there any equivalent on the Eclipse? Reversers are missing on most of the “interesting” jets -- FADEC with low ground idle makes them less important, apparently. Yeah well, reversers still work great when the runway is less than perfect.

I have heard that something approaching 8% of CJs have had a runway excursion of one type or another (think this was referring to the original CJ). Can you confirm??

Ken Meyer said...

jetA wrote,

"I just put the above flight you mentioned in my FliteStar for the TBM. The difference is 32 minutes for the TBM700 and 15 minutes for the TBM850."

If your TBM700 can fly a 1200 nm flight just 30 minutes slower than a plane that cruises 73 knots faster than it, you're doing great, and you shouldn't be considering a jet. Maybe you and I are using different AFMs? My TBM 700 AFM says the recommended cruise settings for the TBM at ISA +14 at FL270 yield 277 KTAS compared to the Eclipse speed of 350 KTAS. I don't see how you can make that come out with a 30-minute block time difference, but my hat is off to you if you can.

Ken

hummer said...

Jetaburner
I hold an opinion. My definition, an opinion is a belief held by one that is subject to change. If you agree with this, then:
Small Jets: single and twin jets are the future.
Prop aircraft is the past.
Will all props cease? I don't think so. Whytech made a smart comment about me not holding my breath. I responded in kind. Probably shouldn't have since he has a PHD and more money than God.
Anyway that was the nature of my post and it's my opinion. May not satisfy you, but it does me.

jetaburner said...

EO387-

I do enjoy it very much. It is a wonderful aircraft and if I was that worried about it losing its value I would sell it for the same price I bought it 2 years ago and buy a CJ. But I enjoy its combination of speed, efficiency, big door, payload and range. It is the perfect airplane for me. But thanks for asking.

My purpose, which I've already explained to Ken, is not to defend the TBM or other turboprops, but rather shed some light on how guys who can afford to by a jet today often don't for a number of reasons. Some like the large cabin of the Pilatus (my wife was really pushing me towards that in 2003 but I couldn't fit it in my hangar), some like the simplicity or effiency of the single turboprop. others like the efficiency

For me, in 2003, I came very close to buying a CJ but chose the TBM. Why? Because on my typical mission of 765nm it saved only 30minutes but burned 2x the fuel. So I bought the TBM because of economy. They both have about the same range and payload so that was an issue. I fly about 200hrs per year and I figured the CJ would cost me about $220K and the TBM costs me $110K. The insurance companies qouted me a lower rate in the TBM eventhough I had no time in it and a type rating with 100+hrs in the CJ.

I have nothing against the e-clips. If it worked for me I would buy a late sn # once all the issues were worked out but it doesn't. It's just too small and doesn't carry enough. FYI... Every TBM, Pilatus, and CJ owner I've spoken to has no interest in the e-clips because of its small size and limited payload/range.

I believe size/range/payload are the biggest factors in aircraft success and popularity. Look at the Pilatus vs. TBM for example. The Pilatus is more expensive and slower but b/c it is larger, can carry a whole lot more, and goes a little further it out sells it 2 to 1.

I recently looked at the Mustang and compared it to the TBM850. Same price, the Mustang beats the TBM on the 765nm trip by 5 minutes but burns 60 more gallons. It also doesn't carry as much and won't go as far. So I will probably get a CJ or a new TBM850 next year. But that's just my choice and the only reason to share it is to explain that VLJs aren't the end all for everyone. In fact most people who fly turbine aircraft today tend to think they are a joke.

What do fly???

jetaburner said...

Trog-

You are correct about the ground flap position. Upon touching down in the CJ2 the pilot immediately puts the ground flaps in which are >60 degrees and that also deploys the lift dump spoilers which of course helps put more weight on the wheels. I don't know the specific runway overrun % but I looked at all of the accidents back in 2003 when I was considering a CJ and was shocked at how many were reported. That being said, it is a manageable problem and doesn't usually involve a fatality or even serious injury.

jetaburner said...

Ken-

According to FliteStar ABQ to KOSH is 990nm. I used a 40kt tailwind which I remember you pointing out on a previous post. It shows 3hrs 20min. My FliteStar actually tends to be too conservative and my flight are almost always shorter with less fuel burn.

For another point of reference I fly ASE to Cabo San Lucas several times a year non-stop and it takes me 3hr 45min no wind for the 1100nm trip. I've done the trip in 3hrs 15min with a nice tailwind. So that sounds about right with a 40kt wind, maybe even a little less like 3hrs 15min.

Remember it is going to take your little jet a long time to climb to FL370 which it won't be doing at 350kts.

jetaburner said...

Ken-

One more thought b/c you said:

If your TBM700 can fly a 1200 nm flight just 30 minutes slower...
the Eclipse speed of 350 KTAS.

How does your paper e-clips fly 1200nm doing 350kts in 2hrs 48min? That's a block speed of 429kts!! I should put something like 100kts of tail wind in so we can compare.

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

JetA--

My bad, it was a 990 nm flight; I read it wrong.

My flightplanning program says it takes the TBM about 45 minutes longer despite burning the same amount of fuel as the Eclipse. But let's say you're right and a TBM can do it in just 32 minutes more time.

From your point of view, it is better to pay $1 million more upfront in order to get a plane that arrives a half hour later, flying 10,000 feet lower, slogging through whatever weather may be along the route, with a single engine (no backup), one pressurization source, and with a prop instead of two very smooth, quiet turbofans.

I can only see doing that if one needs the extra range or carrying capacity of the TBM. I don't need either so it looks to me like a million bucks I could spend somewhere else. You said you carry big loads so obviously you need the extra carrying capacity.

OTOH, the Socata website says maximum payload in a TBM 700 C2 with maximum fuel is just 90 lbs more than full fuel payload for the Eclipse, so I'm not so sure the TBM really has that much extra carrying capacity.

And Aviation Week recently made this comparison between the Eclipse and the TBM 850 regarding short trips that the VLJs excel at:

"The Eclipse 500, in contrast, should burn at least 15 percent less fuel than the TBM 850 on a 500-mile trip flown at FL 260, plus it's considerably faster."

The beauty is that we have all these choices. Everybody chooses the plane that fits their needs the best. Aviation is a big tent :)

Ken

cj3driver said...

“ … The insurance (vs my PC12) would be triple, the operating costs would be 3x-4x, and I wouldnt have much to show for it except the enormous satisfaction of flying a CJ3 - definitely worth something, but not 3x-4x for 100 hours per year…”

WT,

I think you would be surprised at the operating cost for the CJ3. I can tell you that my operating costs have decreased since purchasing the CJ3. Insurance is less, fuel expense is less, flight times (block) are less, maintenance is less (due to lower bock times).

Since most owner/operators will not see TBO on the engines (in your case 40 years @ 100 per yr) I would not recommend an engine/parts program. Your actual out of pocket variable expenses for the first few years will be mostly fuel. Even though this is a variable cost, in a CJ3, fuel expense can be greatly reduced over most jets.

The CJ3 is able to climb quickly to FL450 (less than 30 min. heavy and 20 min light) and the fuel burn is 740 lbs per hr at 405 kts TAS at FL450, and I get direct routing almost always. It is much more economical than a CJ1 at FL350. I’ll bet burn is similar to the Pilatus when considering wind factors. (400 TAS into a 100 kt headwind is more efficient than 260 TAS into 100 kts)

Also on trips 800 nm or less, I can ferry fuel for the round trip and save as much half the price on fuel. Since the CJ3 can realisticly go 800 nm further than the CJ, having the capability to ferry fuel from home (or picking it up at low cost enroute) is a tremendous advantage if you are watching operating costs. Even on 1200 mile trips, I only need to add a 100-150 gallons at the destination for the return trip.

I’m not sure what you pay for insurance on the Pilatus, but I was paying $18,000 for 1.2 million hull on the JetProp. Now I pay just under $40K for 7 mil hull on the CJ3 (.06%).

As for proficiency, I can tell you that I am as comfortable (make that significantly more) comfortable in the CJ3 as I was in the turboprop. Seriously, I was required to have annual sim training in the single, same as the CJ3. the systems on the JetProp (especially fuel) were more complex than the CJ3. In fact, with fadec in the CJ3, there are no temps/torque to worry about. The FMS is silly simple (after about 25 hrs). Approach speeds are similar to the turboprop. Collins even tunes the LOC and sets the inbound course. With the new performance database, the FMS posts weghts, ref speeds, rwy lenths, ect.

The biggest advantage (safety and comfort) is FL 450. there is literally no weather up there. Clear, smooth, uncrowded. The occasional buildup (extremely rare) are usually not more than 25 miles in diameter. Never more than a few degrees deviation, and can be seen for a couple hundred miles or more, even at night 90%.

I can tell you that picking around and bouncing thru weather at FL270 worrying about embedded TS is no fun. I never could understand the insurance underwriter numbers. Would I rather be shooting an approach in IMC, ice, night, turbulence, wind, terrain … in a turboprop with one engine or a twin-jet with hot wing, dual back-up everything … plenty of power, latest tech FMS-auto-tune-charts-maps-taws-tcas-XM ect ect.

The biggest downfall to the CJ3 is the damn upfront cost! … but, we can always rationonalize our choices.

1. CJ3’s (like Pilatus) have been increasing in value.

2. it’s a very popular aircraft (if not the most popular jet) so its
likely to at least hold value (low actual depreciation)

4. economical to operate (as far as jets)

5. lowest per seat mile costs (single pilot jets)

6. popular charter aircraft if you need to defray fixed cost

7. Why keep the money in the bank when it can be in an airplane. Your kids can always sell the jet later (when you are gone) if they need the money.

8. You are already spending over 300K per year for aircraft, what’s another 150K? … you cant take it with you, and you will look good in the CJ3.

9. You only live once. You wont get the chance again.

10. If you don’t use it for business, you could always set it up in charter, run it for 101 hrs charter (practically nothing), and 100 hrs personal and get a hell of a write-off (something like 800K per yr depreciation expense). Tax savings probably more than the extra cost of the CJ3 over the Pilatus … or an Eclipse.

cj3driver said...

WT,

11. Harrison Ford has one!

Niner Zulu said...

CJ3driver,
You make a very good case for buying a CJ3 ;-). In the end it's always best to buy the best - whether it's a Subzero refrigerator, a Breitlinger watch or an Airstream trailer - your only disappointment is the day you write the check.

AlexA said...

Expect an announcement on Tuesday that Eclipse has hit the one aircraft per day production milestone.

DayJet official launch set for Wednesday October 3.

FlightCenter said...

Ken,

Thanks for the cabin pictures.

Can you provide the source or a link to the original source?

Are you sure that all the aircraft cabins pictured are exactly the same scale?

It looks like they are, but just checking.

I spent some time last year at NBAA watching folks climb in the aircraft on display from Eclipse up through the turboprops up to the bigger iron.

What I observed was that 90% of the folks turned right and sat in the cabin upon entering the aircraft and compared the aircraft based on cabin size (and amenities).

I probably shouldn't have been surprised, but I was surprised to see that only 10% turned left and went to sit in the cockpit.

I'd love to see a cabin comparison which includes the PC12 and CJ3, as we spend so much time on this blog talking about them as well.

Can the various experts provide (or correct) the cabin dimensions for the following aircraft?

Here are the numbers I have (inches) :

Aircraft -- H - W - L
Diamond -- 54 - 57 - 52
Eclipse -- 50 - 56 - 67
Meridian -- 46.8 - 49.2 - ?
TBM700 -- 48 - 48 - ?
Mustang -- 54 - 55 - 117
CJ1+ -- 57 - 58 - 132
CJ2+ -- 57 - 58 - 163
CJ3 -- ? - ? - ?
Phenom 100 -- 61 - 59 - ?
PC12 -- 58 - 56 - 203

Cabin length for this comparison is measured from the back of the pilot's seat to the back of the last passenger seat, following Cessna's lead on this.

WhyTech said...

CJ3 said:

"Why keep the money in the bank when it can be in an airplane."

Best reason of all to go for the CJ3. I am already checked out on the ProLine 21 from my King Air training. I will do the CJ3 type rating/ATP at Flight Safety and see how things go. Then, maybe!

CJ3 also said:

"Harrison Ford has one"

I tried to buy Ford's year old PC-12 when he was selling it two years ago, but he wanted a "Harrison Ford premium" on the price, so I bought a new one instead. I'd pay a $25 premium knowing tha Calista sat in some of the seats, but no premium for Harrison! ;-)

WT

WhyTech said...

CJ3,

BTW, Thanks for the very comprehensive response - very motivating!

WT

jetaburner said...

9Z-

Yes. Contact me directly. bbaspen@comcast.net

jetaburner said...

CJ3-

Very comprehensive and accurate analysis on the CJ3.

As I mentioned before, we had a CJ in the family and now a CJ2. I've found it difficult to upgrade from the TBM to the CJ for all the same reasons you point out. Whenever I fly the CJ2 I climb directly to FL450 and almost always get direct routing. It is very nice up there. I'm waiting to be able to justify and afford to make the leap directly to the CJ2.

421Jockey said...

Stan,
It is time to change the name! Clearly this blog has moved on from it's original purpose.

Perhaps we should change the name to "a bunch of rich egomaniacs trying to impress each other with their pilot and aviation skills".

I know this is a little long, any better ideas?
421

jetaburner said...

Ken-

Under no wind the TBM would take about 45 minutes longer than the e-clips on a 990nm. But you said earlier that there was a tailwind and calculating the block speed for the e-clips' flight at 2hrs 48min equals 353kts. Block speeds are always considerably lower than cruise speeds b/c of climb, descent, and approach. So the e-clips must have enjoyed a considerable tailwind since its block speed was higher than its cruise speed.

That brings me to another point where the e-clips is going to struggle and the speed difference in the real world between the TBM and e-clips won't really be that great. In tailwinds, as we see in the example above, the time difference decreases as the tailwind component increase b/c the speed difference of the aircraft as a percentage decreases.

In a headwind the e-clips is really hurting. Why? Because the strongest winds are usually found between FL270 - FL390. Even at FL410 you won't be high enough to climb above it. If you fly in the low 20s your range is going to be nothing because of your high fuel burn. Not so with the TBM. I can sit in the high teens low 20s for four hours and land with plenty of fuel in the tank. You will be forced to head into the high 20s to mitigate your fuel burn where your gs will be crushed.

Some of the other points. I agree two turbofans are better than one turboprop for comfort and feeling safe. I love flying the CJ2 at FL450 above all the weather. Statistically, 2 engines is not any safer as there as never been a TBM accident due to an engine failure. Pretty impressive over 15 years.

In terms of reliability and reputation. Even if I was interested in the e-clips I would wait several years for the fleet to works the issues out. I don't trust the company based on its track record of broken promises and can't trust the new plane. This plane gives me great concern for safety and reliability because most of the systems are new and have not been tested extensively in the field. The airframe was originally designed to be lighter and weight has been issue from day one so I would expect to see other structure issues (other than the windshield) as the fleet ages.

WhyTech said...

421 said:

"Perhaps we should change the name to "a bunch of rich egomaniacs trying to impress each other with their pilot and aviation skills"."

So, IIRC you are an E-clips depositor. If so, this puts you most likely in the top 5% of incomes/net worth. This is "rich" to more than 95% of the population. My guess s that most everyone on this blog lives within a budget re aviation activities - some budgets are larger than others. How can I help you increase the size of your budget?

Finally. I have reached a point in life where the only one I need to impress is me.

WT

airtaximan said...

Finally, KUDOS to Ken... something even I can agree with:

"They have two thousand more orders than they can possibly fill in the next year!"

Why?

Dayjet has already openly stated that they have 1430 of those orders (and options), and they WILL NOT TAKE ANY OF THEM BEYOND 229 PLUS PERHAPS 70 OPTIONS WITHIN THE FIRST THREE YEARS.

So there's no way E-clips can fulfill 1100 of the 2000 claimed orders (and options) before 2010...

- good job, Ken.

EclipseOwner387 said...

Whytech,

If you go to sell your Pilatus let me know. A buddy of mine is trying to talk me into partnering on a Pilatus.

airsafetyman said...

If anything the interest in turboprops is increasing. Last year Beech sold the same number of King Airs as they did turbofans. I would not be surprised if it is a greater number this year.

Ken Meyer said...

JetA wrote,

"Statistically, 2 engines is not any safer as there as never been a TBM accident due to an engine failure. Pretty impressive over 15 years."

Two problems with that:

1. There was a crash due to engine failure. It is NTSB report ATL03FA082.

2. There aren't enough TBM's in the fleet to develop a statistically valid sample--fewer than 300 are even on the U.S. registry despite production for 15 years. The PC-12 has a higher representation, and there have been several engine failures in that aircraft (which of course uses a PT-6A variant not all that different from what is in the TBM).

There are however, convincing NTSB statistics that general aviation jets are overall substantially safer than turboprops:

Turboprop accidents: 4.33 per 100,000 hours

Turbine accidents: 0.72 per 100,000 hours

Turboprop fatal accidents: 1.29 per 100,000 hours

Turbine fatal accidents: 0.12 per 100,000 hours

I've said it before; I'll say it again: I think the TBM-700 is a nice plane. You should be enjoying it. Instead, you seem to be bent on convincing yourself that what you own is better than a jet. I guess for you, it is. Others don't see things the same way--that is why by the middle of next year, Eclipse will have delivered more 500's than the entire production of TBMs over the last 15 years!

Ken

WhyTech said...

Ken said:

"Turboprop accidents: 4.33 per 100,000 hours

Turbine accidents: 0.72 per 100,000 hours

Turboprop fatal accidents: 1.29 per 100,000 hours

Turbine fatal accidents: 0.12 per 100,000 hours"

Ken,

You are a master at telling only that part of the story that suits your purpose, Consider this:

PC-12 accident rate: 0.78/100,000 hours

PC-12 fatal accident rate: 0.15 per 100,000 hours

These are virtually identical to your turbine rate. And, IIRC, the TBM is about the same or slightly better.

WT

planet-ex said...

Ken:

Source for those accident statistics?

WhyTech said...

EO said:

"If you go to sell your Pilatus let me know"


Will do, but this will be mid 2008 at the earliest due to other schedule commitments. I'll even throw in some extra skin! ;-)

WT

WhyTech said...

Ken,

I said:

"You are a master at telling only that part of the story that suits your purpose."

I should have also added that highly aggregated data such as you quote doesnt tell the whole story. Consider that the vast majority of turbine operations are with 2 flight crew members, while the a large per centage of turboprops are flown single pilot, and even more single engine turboprops are flown single pilot. This alone accounts for a significant part of the difference between turbine and turboprop accidents.

WT

airtaximan said...

"that is why by the middle of next year, Eclipse will have delivered more 500's than the entire production of TBMs over the last 15 years!"

That is why?

I guess it has nothing to do with the low ball price... most of the 2700 orders and options are for less than $1.2 million
....NAW.....nothing to do with the money-losing price. Price for the TBM850 is around $2.8 million.

YOU MAKE ME LAUGH.

Ken Meyer said...

whytech wrote,

"And, IIRC, the TBM is about the same or slightly better."

Not according to Breiling and Associates.

Their 2005 accident summary tells us that the TBM 700 has about 2.43 accidents per 100,000 hours. That's not bad, but it is still more than 3 times the NTSB's accident rate for general aviation jet aircraft. And the fatal accident rate of the TBM-700 Breiling reported is almost 7 times that reported by the NTSB for general aviation jets.

Ken

planet-ex said...

Ken looks at the statistics and makes a conclusion. Unfortunately, he is only looking at the top few layers and not digging deeper.

Tell me this Ken, was is the split between corporate and owner operated aircraft? Those two bits of data can make a huge difference in the accident rates.

Experience level plays a big part in accidents.

WhyTech said...

Ken said:

"Not according to Breiling and Associates."

I stand corrected. And, I did say "IIRC," which apparently I didnt.

Another key issue: Anyone holding a Private Pilot ASEL certificate (without an instrument rating, but with a high performance/complex endorsement obtained, in, say, an Arrow) can jump in a TBM or PC-12 without any specific training and fly away, and still be legal. Perhaps not insured, but FAA legal. In a turbojet, a type rating is required, and while it may be possible to obtain a type rating with a VFR only limitation, its a rare thing. The point: flight crews on twin turbojet acft are mostly fairly well trained pro pilots, while in S.E. turbo props, this often doesnt apply, and the accident rates reflect this. If you look very closely at the accident reports, you will find that very few accidents result from acft problems in either turbojest or turboprops.

And, Ken, for the record, there has never been a fatal accident in a PC-12 which resulted from an engine failure; all 3 due to pilot error so far.

WT

WhyTech said...

planet-ex said:

"Tell me this Ken, was is the split between corporate and owner operated aircraft? Those two bits of data can make a huge difference in the accident rates."

This is a fundamentally important point. The accident rates for some categories of corporate aviation are less than one fiftieth (1/50) of the overall GA accident rates. Its the pilots, not the planes!

WT

airtaximan said...

A few general comments...

1- It IS amazing this blog is so active, with almost nothing in the way of news from ABQ. I guess some believe it’s important to ASK questions and explore, otherwise it just becomes a religious endeavor.

2- Looking back, I am impressed with the foresight and guts of the likes of Cessna, Embraer, Honda etc... for entering the market years after e-clips, pricing their products realistically, and building VLJ business around VLJs that are twice the price of the e-clips ads. They've all built order books in line with their required volume production and pricing AND they have developed VLJ offerings that many, many customers want.

3- I would expect that turbine engine makers will try to optimize smaller fanjets for lower altitudes. This could be a terrific advancement and might make sense for shorter range missions... the realistic market for these planes. In order to compete, the props will have to come down in price... I wonder what the price would be if say Socata front loaded the price to produce a few hundred planes a year - $1.5 million, perhaps? Same difference as say, Mustang to E500?

mirage00 said...

Expect an announcement on Tuesday that Eclipse has hit the one aircraft per day production milestone.

Impossible! I thought there was a "paper" shortage?

I remain amused

double 00

ExEclipser said...

I can't believe that this little tirade between Lost Weekend and Rush Limbaugh has been eclipsed (ha ha) by TBM/Meridian vs Eclipse nonsense chatter.

Think most folks found part one. Really though, it's quite funny no matter which side of the aisle you're on.

Dayjet Gives Global Warming the Middle Finger
Rush Limbaugh Comments
Lost Weekend Concerned About Their Package

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Ken, as a former physician yourself perhaps you can tell us what would happen in the following case?

What would happen if a physician performed only part of a scheduled procedure, demanded full payment, and promised to complete the procedure 'sometime' in the future?

What would happen if that same physician took deposits from a bunch of other folks who need the same procedure and pointed to his half-finished procedure and said 'see, that's the beauty of it'?

Worse yet, what if that same physician had not informed the patient that the procedure would not be completed as expected, until the patient was already being administered anesthesia?

Worse even yet, what if it became obvious that the physician knew, in advance, that he would be unable to complete the procedure but took the money and began the procedure anyway?

Even worse yet, what would happen if after the half-completed procedure was done the patient developed complications that limited them even further?

Would that physician still have a license to practice?

Should they still have a license?

Replace physician and patient with lawyer and client, car maker and customer - makes no difference - the behavior of this company is atrocious IMO and should not be tolerated by anyone no matter how bad a case of Jet-Jock-Fever they have - I am beginning to think the Faithful have a case of battered-wife-syndrome - but Vern says he 'loves' me and that he will treat me better tomorrow.......

ExEclipser said...

Is there really that much correlation that can be gained from your comparison, CWMOR?

Hmmm, heart surgury would be too biased with regards to outcome, but let's try plastic surgury.

Perhaps if you were doing the same face lift that everyone else was performing, you couldn't get away with IOUs.

But if the patient doesn't like what the other doctors have to offer, and really likes YOUR new procedure and really like the anticipated result, perhaps he would be willing to risk it, if it suits his needs. If you could get at least as good as the other doctors in round one and were told that you could get the procudure finished later at no additional cost, then why not?

At this point, the analogy becomes a lot of cockamamie nonsense. I hope Ken doesn't mind me answering for him, but I wouldn't expect a physisician to attempt to answer such a ludicrous comparison.

I, on the other hand, am just a dumb little engineer. What do I know?

Niner Zulu said...
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Niner Zulu said...
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jetaburner said...

Ken-

I am very familiar with the TBM accident you referenced: ATL03FA082.

You are wrong it was not due to engine failure but due to a runaway engine b/c of improper maintenance. I've studied it at Simcom extensively and it was pilot error. It was a quest diagnostics airplane and the pilot had full power and unfortunately chose to cut the power before the landing was assurred.

Make sure you know your facts before qouting them. It is right their in the NTSB. I will say it again: There has never been an accident in the TBM due to engine failure in 15 years of service.

FlyboyArt said...

Real-Life Eclipse Performance

I've seen a lot of discussion on this forum about the performance of this jet based on the elusive POH and the marketing information available from Eclipse but this is a first-hand report seen through my own two "Mark IV" eyeballs. I was in front of the FBO here in KOCF (central FL) today when I spotted a DayJet Eclipse taxiing out for departure. It was closely followed out by a Seneca and a Meridian. When the DayJet taxied onto the runway and spooled up I was amazed at (1) how little jet noise came from it, (2) how long it took to get up to speed and roll down the runway, (3) how long it took to get off the ground and how slowly it climbed out.

First the noise, or lack of it. The newer generation small engines are *very* quiet. Can't see how any community will be able to complain about the noise. P&W has done a nice job on helping us be a good neighbor to people living near the airport.

Second, the lack of 'push-you-back-in-your-seat-thats-why-I-bought-a jet' power. This aircraft accelerated down the runway no faster than a Bonanza (I have 1500 hours in one so I know). It wasn't because they gradually spooled it up, you could hear the volume of the engine noise stay steady during the entire takeoff run. I'm used to seeing a jet lunge down the runway and get up to speed very quickly. I can tell you this airplane does not do that. The thrust from those tiny engines seems to be really small, even inadequate I dare say.

Three, KOCF is at 89' so high/hot/dense as the reason for poor performance doesn't count. Yes, it's hot but the other two factors are non-existent. Tell me then why this airplane had to use up almost 5,200' of runway to lift off? I kept watching and watching, waiting for it to break away from the ground and climb like crazy for the skies but it didn't. The Seneca twin took off in half the space with about the same takeoff roll speed. The Meridian took off in half the space with a faster takeoff roll and climbed out much more quickly as well.

Now I don't know how heavily each aircraft was loaded so let's assume worst case for the Eclipse (full gross load). Even so, it was pathetic performance.

If at sea-level it has this level of poor performance, I sure wouldn't want to see how badly it performs in the mountains (let along losing an engine on takeoff from say Denver). A first-hand experience seeing just what you get for your money from Eclipse and I can tell you there's no way in hell I'd ever buy one of those things.

The advice I give people about software seems to hold true for aircraft as well, "Wait for version 2.0".

It's very nice that Eclipse and all the customers waiting to get their hands on this aircraft are willing to pay their dues before me. I'd like a jet someday, but will be perfectly happy to wait for 'Version 2.0'. I'll bet Piper, Cirrus and the rest of the VLJ/PLJ manufacturers will be watching and learning a lot from this product launch. In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy my PC-12 and wait on the sidelines for things to shake out a bit more. Time is the decider in these situations and we'll see where Eclipse is in a year. I know what my projections are...

Ken Meyer said...

JetA wrote,

"You are wrong it was not due to engine failure but due to a runaway engine b/c of improper maintenance."

I think you're parsing too much. We're in agreement that the engine had a mechanical problem, and the pilot wound up crashing. You're saying you don't count that as an engine failure per se because the pilot should have known how to handle the malfunction. Maybe, but the bottom line is still the engine problem resulted in a crash landing.

Either way, if your conclusion is that PT6A engines never fail, I think you're mistaken. There aren't enough TBM's in existence to generate much of a history of engine failure, but there are plenty of PT6A engine failures on the books.

Ken

jetaburner said...

9Z-

Good to hear from you and I remember you!! To answer your questions I'll first discuss my experience and needs to that you have a reference for my decisions.

In 2001 I bought a Meridian, from you by way of a dealer!! I had 550 hrs, mostly in a B36TC and the $1.5M was my comfort zone. I flew the plane for the next 4 years and put 800hrs on it. It served me reasonably well and I used to laugh at the TBM owners for spending $1m more for an airplane that didn't do much. I didn't understand that the statement "you get what you pay for" really applies to aviation. After 11 AOG issues and a crack on my elevator which grounded the plane for 2.5 months I decided to upgrade. Most of the AOG issues were caused by the Meggit "advanced cockpit".

I looked at the Conquest 441, TBM, Pilatus, and CJ. I have a wife, no kids, and two large dogs. We are very active and like to bring friends and gear. Most of my trips are between 765nm and 1100nm. At this time, I had over 1400 hours and was typed (only crew) in the CJ2. I love jets, they are great, but they also have limitations.

The wife really wanted the Pilatus or CJ but the Pilatus didn't fit in the hangar. When I compared the advantages of the CJ over the TBM for 2x operating cost it wasn't worth it to me. I had budget of $2 to $2.5M. I am a capital not a cash flow guy so I pay cash and like airplanes with low operating costs.

I too want a jet but for me, after flying the TBM and CJ2, I have a hard time justifying anything less capable than a CJ1+ (and that is tough). The CJ2 and anything above in the Cessna line (IMO) is where the jets really start to make sense. I think this is reflected in the resale value b/c the CJ2/3 have done really well where the CJ and CJ1 have lost a little value.

The real advantage to jets comes when you want to go far because of the speed and range. The CJ2 can go 1650nm and CJ3 can go 1900nm. That's impressive. I've flown long legs in the CJ2 and it is a wonderful plane but it will cost you $5M+ and $1200 per hour to operate (no power by the hour). It is exactly 2x the costs to purchase and operate compared to the TBM.

So I have a good situation as I do about 80% of my flying in the TBM and 20% in the CJ2. FYI... The TBM is built like a brick house and I've not had one AOG issue in 400hrs of flying. It has been a real pleasure. I have a C2 model which has the big door, can hold a ton of stuff.

Here are the stats for my specific plane (this is also for Ken b/c of a previous comment claiming the e-clips holds only 100 lbs less- just not true):

Empty weight: 4691
Max Taxi weight: 7430
Useful load: 2739
Full fuel (281g): 1883
Useful load w/ full tanks:
856lbs.

The TBM is expensive but it is because you are buying quality. I believe Cessna and Pilatus makes a great product as well.

I think you made a wise decision not to buy an e-clips. New technology is great but I've learned to be patient and see how everything pans out. I'm sure the e-clips will continue to have growing pains over the next couple of years and I'm very concerned about the companies longevity based on their volume pricing. I don't know of anybody, except on this blog, who is still interested in the plane.

So... I think first and foremost it is important to buy an established product from a reputable company. I think VLJS and jets from Cessna and Embraer are probably safe bets but I still wouldn't buy the first 100 s/ns. It ends up being a real pain in the *** with all of the SBs and ADs and AOG issues.

For me, I am not interested in the Mustang and would buy a new TBM850 (rumor has it that it will get the Garmin 1000, some more fuel and its ceiling will go to FL330- but that is just rumor). The Garmin1000 is 120lbs+/- then the Bendix King EFIS that is in their now so the additional fuel won't impact the full fuel payload. Range will probably be in the 1400 to 1500nm range. There is tons of improvement capable on the airframe b/c it is so stout (it has a flat redline of 266kts).

I too want a jet but won't upgrade until I can go to a CJ2 (maybe a CJ1+) or a Phenom 300. I don't know enough about the Honda Jet or others to comment. The Honda Jet could be a possibility for me but I would need to see it in service for several years.

Hope that helps!!

jetaburner said...

flyboyart-

Great observations and thank you for sharing. When I fly the CJ2, even at full gross, and push the throttles to max for a static start, it's like taking off with your hair on fire. After you rotate, get ready for about 18 degrees nose up and 4k a minute climb. I was coming out of SFO last month and was light so I saw over 5k. It is a beautiful thing, but you have to be ready for it.

jetaburner said...

Ken-

Big difference in an engine that has failed and developing no power and one that is stuck on full power. I guess we will just have to disagree.

planet-ex said...

I assume Ken is referring to the accident with this conclusion by the NTSB:

"The improper installation of the power control linkage on the engine fuel control unit by maintenance personnel which resulted in a loss of power lever control, and the pilot's failure to follow emergency procedures and his intentional engine shutdown which resulted in a forced landing and subsequent inflight collision with a light pole."

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Nearly 300, fully functional, flying every day TBM's, in existence for over 15 years, with hundreds of thousands of hours is 'not enough' to form a statistically significant data point for Ken.

Guess there is no point in discussing anything that the less than 50 partially completed Eclipse's have accomplished over the past 9 months then.

Thanks for clearing that up.

EXE - reread the last sentence where I suggest using lawyer and client, or carmaker and buyer or any other business relationship - the point is that outside of this charade nobody in their right mind would put up with being treated like an abused wife suffering from learned-helplessness, especially when delaing in transaction involving 7 figures and the safety and comfort of their family.

mirage00 said...

Guess there is no point in discussing anything that the less than 50 partially completed Eclipse's have accomplished over the past 9 months then.

Ummm... that would be 50 plus FAA certified E500's. All delivered and flying. Unless of course, you prescribe to Stans "conspiracy theory"

I remain amused

double 00

planet-ex said...

Guess that's not enough time for Ken:

As of the end of 2004, the TBM fleet had 493,000 hours spread across 202 aircraft. The PC-12 fleet had 763,000 hours spread across 380 aircraft.

What does the EA-500 fleet have? Less than 5,000 hours?

According to the same report I'm pulling these numbers off of, the twin turbine fleet had a 2.24 per 100,000 hour accident rate while the single turbine fleet had a 2.14 per 100,000 hour accident rate.

Mind you, these are Breiling's numbers.

planet-ex said...

I should add something for Ken's education.

Do you want to know what skews the accident rate numbers for single turbo-props?

The Cessna Caravan...over 5 million flight hours and operated as a utility aircraft (e.g., FedEx) in adverse conditions (got to get those packages to the hub no matter what).

Ken Meyer said...

planet-ex wrote,

"Guess that's not enough time for Ken:"

That's right.

The total accident rate for the TBM, according to the 2005 Breiling report is about 2.43 per 100,000 hours and engine failure represents just a fraction of that. But the entire fleet exposure for the TBM was under 500,000 hours at the time the report was written so of course the sample size is too small to draw a meaningful conclusion about the chance of engine failure in the TBM.

By comparison, the CE-208 fleet has suffered about 100 accidents and 5% of them were due to engine failure. But the fleet exposure for that plane is about 10 times that of the TBM, allowing a meaningful analysis.

If I build an RV-17 and fly it for a thousand hours without a crash, it does not mean that the risk of crashing an RV-17 is zero; it means that there weren't enough hours of exposure to generate good data to assess the actual risk.

Ken

Gunner said...

Ken said:
"of course the sample size [a half MILLION hours] is too small to draw a meaningful conclusion about the chance of engine failure in the TBM."

Yet, just a few days ago, he assured us the the (as yet uncertified) AVIO-NG system would have saved Thurman Munson's life.

Can anyone spell "reality disconnect"?
Gunner

Ken Meyer said...

planet-ex wrote,

"Do you want to know what skews the accident rate numbers for single turbo-props?

The Cessna Caravan...over 5 million flight hours and operated as a utility aircraft (e.g., FedEx) in adverse conditions (got to get those packages to the hub no matter what)."


Think so?

The 2005 Breiling report tells us that the Cessna 208 Caravan has a lower accident rate than both the TBM-700 and the Meridian.

The TBM-700 has a higher accident rate than any of the King Airs; it's twice as high as the KA200, 4-times as high as the KA300 and almost twenty times as high as the KA350. Wow.

Ken

Gunner said...

BTW, Ken, you either misunderstand the concept of "sample size" or you intentionally misrepresent it.

In epidemiology class, we're taught that sample size is based on exposure (hours, for aircraft) not incidence (crashes, for aircraft), n'est ce pas?

It matters not that LASIK results in negligible loss of life to be able to state that it is categorically more "safe" than open heart surgery. Why? Because we have a large enough "sample" of LASIK surgeries to compare the sample size to thoracic surgeries, regardless of the paucity of LASIK related deaths.

Gunner

airtaximan said...

Eclipse Aviation Turns To Automotive Industry For Inspiration

Sep 21, 2007
By Joseph C. Anselmo and Anthony L. Velocci, Jr. /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.

** note: their first 50 planes took over a year to deliver...I'm sure this will get better the second year around.

airsafetyman said...

"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"

Ah, no need for inventory! There will never, ever, be a supply delay, and all the incoming components will always pass quality control...or we will fire our quality control manager. There will never be a production glitch of our own assembly with unskilled, off-the-street labor who only have a hazy idea of the real skills required. And we will change those pesky FAA oversight people as well.

FlightCenter said...

According to this article, the official breakeven point for Eclipse is now 600 aircraft per year.

If you assume 50 production weeks / year and 5 days a week, that works out to 2.4 aircraft per day.

Eclipse's official plan as of June 2007 was that they would hit 2 aircraft a day by April 2008 and 3 aircraft per day by December 2008.

If Eclipse meets its official plan published in June 07, then it will take until January 2009 before they complete a twelve month period with 600 aircraft delivered.

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

Niner Zulu said...
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airsafetyman said...

The world is littered with dying companies run by engineers who do not have the people skills necessary to run a child's lemonade stand. You never critize your own people in public and you never bad-mouth your suppliers either. How about some basic, common, manners here from Vern? Can you imagine having to take bad news to this ass?

Gunner said...

Vern has mostly done OK in Staff positions. When he moves to Line Management (SLATE)....utter failure.

A man should know his strengths, weaknesses and limitations. Vern Raburn never was CEO material. The only hope for this company is for him to admit that. No surrender; just a simple admission of limitation; and a quiet exit.

OTOH, if he reads this Blog, he must believe The Faithful think he's just doing a bang-up job. For the Faithful here, that's one of the downsides of shilling for Eclipse, in hopes of getting future Depositors to pay for your unfunded jet. That plus some REALLY bad Karma.
Gunner

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...

Gunner,

Did I forget to say he is very good at raising money?

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?