Tuesday, October 30, 2007

“And the days dwindle down

To a precious few

September, November...”

From the outside things appear quiet at Eclipse. The public relations machine is on mute and a few airplanes are rolling out to the ramp. On the inside I envision a futuristic scene. Remember the James Bond movie in which the hero defuses the hydrogen bomb with 007 seconds left to go?

The threat to Eclipse is a different nuclear device. The neutron bomb was developed during the Cold War to minimize damage to property but maximize destruction of people. During a previous recession certain real estate investments were known as neutron bombs because they destroyed investors but left buildings standing.

If there is a neutron bomb at Eclipse, it is probably connected to the balance sheet and the bank account. It is counting down in dollars, not seconds. The hangars, unfinished aircraft, airframe components, engines and friction stir welding jig are not in jeopardy. Employees and their families, investors, depositors, vendors, trade creditors and government officials could be.

I see this infernal engine ticking away in an Eclipse laboratory. The big red display is clicking off dollars at a furious rate. The instructions on the device read, “This neutron bomb can only be deactivated by connection to a fully functioning Avio NG system via the USB port below. Begin functional test by pressing red button.”

Black Tulip

The tulip mania peaked in the Netherlands during the 1630s. The black tulip was the most sought after, until found to be biologically impossible.

61 comments:

FlightCenter said...

Vern told the recent investor conference that he'll need to secure additional financing as a result of not being able to ramp production as fast as previously planned.

gadfly said...

Dutch Flower

To the investors, die-hards, and depositors in Eclipse, the end result may be compared to the "neutron bomb", but, unfortunately, to the rest of the world (and those who are "down-wind") the more proper term will be called "flatulence"!

gadfly

Niner Zulu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bill e. goat said...

FC,
Thanks for the info:

"Vern told the recent investor conference that he'll need to secure additional financing as a result of not being able to ramp production as fast as previously planned".

----------------------------
I don't get it.
And I think Vern doesn't get it.

Every week, it looks more and more like a pyramid scheme.

Digging a hole, deeper and deeper.
Maybe they want to buy new "disruptive" shovels with longer handles.

airtaximan said...

Its no surprise that Vern is now admitting he'll need more money... to a lot of us, anyways - to some, its amusing, to others I'm sure they are quietly waiting to see if their number will ever come up.

Its no surprise to many of us that they are not delivering 1 plane per day... no will be any time soon...

Its not a big surprise that Dayjet is opening up every possible airport for service, and opening up their booking engine to non-members, to try to get revenue... nor is it a big surprise that their numbers to date look really shabby...

Nor is it surprising to most of us that AVING is not completed on time.

But, it might be a surprise to most of us, when/if Vern somehow comes up with another $150M, to save the day.

The biggest surprise is that e-clips, with this POS product that is neither a commercial taxi plane, nor a great private pilot plane, has lasted THIS long. But, Vern may in fact have a few more rabbits.

E-clips - powered by Vern

The long term prospects look extrememly sour at this point. Look for some more arguments that "e-clips has created lasting value"... until someone else bites with more cash, or ...kaboom.

Old Troll said...

9Z,
I would wait until midnight tomorrow to say that Oct 31st came and went with no AvioNG cert. You only have to look at their history: first flight on the last day, TC on the last day, "first delivery" on the last day. It wouldn't surprise me if they "certified" NG tomorrow. In fact, I would expect it. It will be a semi-functional POS but they can send out press releases about how "Eclipse certifies AvioNG, revolutionizing jet travel, defining a new value proposition, blah, blah, blah...".

BTW, I thought they said NG would be ready by summer when the split with Avidyne was first announced?

Shane Price said...

Gadfly,

Following on from my last post, I'm reminded more and more of that famous American success story the Ford Edsel

Lauched with vast fanfare, at huge cost, it got squeezed between competitors and the recession of 1957.

It is now the part of Marketing 101, under the heading 'How to lose $400 Million without really trying'

And the link with Eclipse?

The wonder manager they hired to get production up and costs down came direct from Ford...

Did I mention that oil had gone through $93 last night? You guys better think pretty hard about diesel for your gas guzzlers (sorry, cars) pretty soon.

Shane

airtaximan said...

some intersting points:

Guess who said the following:

"but from a manufacturing standpoint we consider the aircraft complete when the Certificate of Airworthiness is issued."

"This increase in employees has helped us boost our production hours, and we now have night shifts throughout all manufacturing plants."

"So the fact that the problem went undetected is not the lesson, but how we as a company have responded to the problem is."

" Gainesville, FL, recently received its FAR Part 145 certificate and will hold a grand opening ceremony on June 15th. This ESC will serve the Southeast region of the country and will be able to service up to 12 Eclipse 500 aircraft at a time. The technicians in this facility will be equipped to perform both scheduled and unscheduled Eclipse 500 maintenance, as well as work on the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F engines. This also marks a significant achievement for Eclipse because we have been granted FAA approval to certify all of our Part 145 repair stations through a single FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) based in Albuquerque, which is unique for an airframe company. This office will be responsible for monitoring all repair station activity, including the application and certification processes for future repair stations."

"With these three planes modified as planned, the revised schedule should hold steady but recovery to the end of July target is unlikely."

So, Avoing was initially promised by end of July... what is today's date? Any update? revised dates, apologies, excuses, explanations, communications?

So, deliveries are calculated by COfA date - when was CofA received for any plane after SN38?

So... for the first time in aviation, cert of the repair stations is centralized to the jurisdiction of the local office and oversight will be handled by them for facilities thousands of miles away? How do you spell SAFETY?

Lessons learned do not include "how we missed the problem" only what we did (or what we tell you we did) about it... Hmm, how do you spell FOQUA?

And, my favorie, how does e-clips increse profduction? Before summer 2007 you add employees, after summer 2007, you subtract employees...

Every quote attributed to Mr. Vern Raburn.

PS. he should stick to raising money from people who know little or nothing about this industry. I can almost hear the prayers from the 275 or so unsuspecting position-holders who are owed $900k since last year...

DayJetStudent said...

Dark days for Eclipse
Link

gadfly said...

"It's quiet out there. Too quiet".

Niner “Shrek” Zulu, You is a funny man . . . suddenly, the “Kingdom of Duloc” and “Lord Farquaad” all come into clear focus.

“Shrek tells Donkey that ogres are only like onions since "they have layers".”

‘Need I carry this analogy further? . . . as we attempt to “peal” through the layers?

And Shane, back in its day, the Edsel was described as an “Oldsmobile, sucking on a lemon!” . . . clearly an insult to the “Olds”.

‘Between you two, we have a plethora of ready similes, to use in describing the present status of “Eclipse”.

gadfly

(Surely, this is, indeed, a product of “DreamWorks” . . . or at least, "Wishful Thinking".)

airtaximan said...

Skill testing question: who is responsible for the following statement...

"Avio NG, an improved version of the Eclipse500s Avio Total Aircraft Integration system, has been in development for many months and is scheduled for production and delivery this
summer. In keeping with a customer-centric focus, Eclipse will retrofit all Eclipse 500 aircraft with Avio NG by the end of 2007, ensuring a homogeneous Eclipse 500 fleet."


another honest mistake?

rcflyer said...

Re: Dark Days for Eclipse

Too funny. Another blog refers to this blog, and this blog refers back to it! There you go: you read about Eclipse's woes here, and then got independent verification. QED.

R.C.

DayJetStudent said...

Never claimed to have ind. verification. Just people all over the map questioning Eclipse, and the use of public funds to back a risky private venture.

airsafetyman said...

"This also marks a significant achievement for Eclipse because we have been granted FAA approval to certify all of our Part 145 repair stations through a single FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) based in Albuquerque, which is unique for an airframe company. This office will be responsible for monitoring all repair station activity, including the application and certification processes for future repair stations."

Absolutely astounding.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

If Eclipse implodes I predict it will be the only thing in this entire drawn out passion play that turns out to be anywhere as big, grand scale, or large as predicted.

The real question is when do Al Mann and Kent Kresa get bored with bailing Vernie out of the fine messes he gets them into?

sparky said...

Does anyone have any idea as to what is going on with the C of A's?

At first it seemd that the FAA website was falling behind, but nothing being granted C of A since #38?

we've asked about this numerous times, and have always been answered by Ken on the other shortcomings of the company. His silence on this speaks volumes.

PS Mirage, this is where you comment on conspiracy and remain amused.

I can't believe that as a whole, none of us has a friend of a friend in the FAA that could shed some light on this.

FlightCenter said...

Shane,

You keep mentioning that oil is going up, up, up...

But Vern is already way ahead of you. His response to rising fuel prices is the announcement that the Eclipse 500 is the greenest jet out there.

Eclipse for Greener Skies

Earlier this week, Airbus made the claim that they now have the greenest jet. The article in the Telegraph says that an A380 with 80% load factor is likely to produce only 100 grams of CO2 per passenger mile. (Airbus claims 75 grams)

Green A380


This got me wondering... How does the Eclipse compare? With a little back of the envelope calculation here are the results.

Car - 89 g CO2 per passenger mile
A380 - 100 g CO2 per passenger mile
CJ3 - 448 g CO2 per passenger mile
E500 - 525 g CO2 per passenger mile


Assumptions taken from the Eclipse website - 55 gallons JetA per hour, 332 miles per operating hour, 21 lbs CO2 per gallon of JetA (DOE site), and 3 passengers on each flight.

That's five times the CO2 footprint per passenger mile when compared to an A380.

CJ3 assumptions. (Cessna website)

900 lbs of JetA per hour
405 knots
6 passengers

This results in a CO2 footprint of 448 grams of CO2 per passenger mile or 15% lower than the Eclipse.

I compared the automobile footprint for the DayJet crowd since they are trying to get folks to move from their cars.

Automobile assumptions:
25 mpg, 4 passengers, 19.5 lbs of CO2 per gallon of gasoline.

You should expect more green aircraft announcements from Eclipse as the price of fuel continues to rise.

I can see it now. The green option package with solar panels on the wings to provide a green powered "virtual APU".

Vern will be quoted in the press release saying that the solar value proposition has now reached the tipping point.

He'll claim that he knew the technology would be appropriate when they decided the Eclipse 500 didn't need an APU.

Joe Patroni said...

I'd like to hear how the Albuquerque FSDO plans to "monitor" a Repair Station in Jacksonville, Florida. I wonder what the Orlando FSDO guys think about having a Repair Station in their area that is not under their jurisdiction?

Some people are "Special", I guess...

As for no deliveries after s/n 39......wasn't that the blockpoint for Eclipse to start building Version 2.0?

Shane Price said...

FlightCentre,

First, can I thank you for your efforts in tracking the delivery data for Eclipse. You explained the method some time ago and it's good of you to continue the work.

My references to oil is a reminder to the Faithful of the economic situation. Rapid oil price rises are associated with recession. In periods where money is tight, people tend to be more careful with spending.

Luxury items, and a personal jet has to be counted as one, often suffer sales challanges during economic downturns.

On the other hand, with the dollar at $1.44 to the Euro, I could buy an E499.5 for 'small' change....

Still no chance of that, but does make you wonder how Vern's suppliers abroad must feel, if the deal's were done in dollars.

You point about green impact is well made, if a little outside the scope of this discussion. Most people who are self centred enough to value their (travel) time at the costs inherent in a private jet are not founder members of Greenpeace...

RC Flyer,

Watch carefully. When business and politics start to mix, it's rare indeed that the politicans come off second best. With targets as obivous as Vern lying around (pun intended) Eclipse could easily end up as a 'football' in a nasty election fight.

Gadfly,

What I really want to mention is the LRU's. No one seems to be interested in this particular one of Vern's many 'innovations' anymore. I wonder which one will be next to be forgotten. Stir frying? Avio NG? Air Taxi?

Hence the 'Edsel' reference....

Shane

airsafetyman said...

I believe the DayJet operating certificate is managed out of the Dulles FSDO, which is also bizarre. In case of a serious accident there is enough out there for a good aviation attorney with integrity (and there are a few) to slice up the major players in this farce, including the FAA, like a fat tuna.

bill e. goat said...

ASM,
I think you are quite correct about the oddity of Dulles, I do do think the FAA could use some scrutiny for prematurely issuing TC, and PC. (By, oh, say 18 months, in both cases...).

But I cringe at calling this a farce, somehow, the word seems incongrous- facade perhaps is more precise.

I wrinkle at "farce", because I think it is a good little airplane, made at a factory with good infrastructure, by good people, with a good (and loyal, to say the least!) customer base.

So it would seem, things ought to be going quite well.

But reality seems to contradict that (hence facade comes to mind). After years of delays, it's still not ready. After hiring hundreds (well thousands, but then firing hundreds) of workers, they still can't ramp up. After borrowing hundreds of $M, they're still borrowing hundreds of $M. It's just too wierd. One would think, with such incompetent management, there shouldn't even be a product. But there is (almost). It all seems like a bizarre mismash of contradictions.

But I don't think it's a farce, because no doubt people are trying hard to bring design and delivery to a satisfactory level. But that they've tried for so hard, for so long, with so much borrowed money, and still aren't done, but still aren't out of business either, well, it just seems like something's going on in the background, and what we see is a...facade.

airsafetyman said...

I have no problems with the worker bees at Eclipse, DayJet, or the FAA, but what executive in their right mind would WANT to have the arrangements with the ABQ and Dulles FSDOs as they now exist with Eclipse and DayJet? What is the point? Just the tip of the 'berg.

mirage00 said...

we've asked about this numerous times, and have always been answered by Ken on the other shortcomings of the company. His silence on this speaks volumes.

I see you boys have formed that circle again. Enjoy...

Stan, any interesting emails these days? I do miss your "hardcore" reporting these days.

I remain amused

double 00

MrWango said...

I'm unclear as to why this all matters to you. Are you an investor? Did you purchase a plane? If not - why in the world do you care what happens at Eclipse Aviation?

If the company fails, does this somehow validate your life? I really, really, don't get all the negativity...

mirage00 said...

If the company fails, does this somehow validate your life? I really, really, don't get all the negativity...

EXACTLY! Now you know why...I remain amused

double 00

MrWango said...

"Following on from my last post, I'm reminded more and more of that famous American success story the Ford Edsel...The wonder manager they hired to get production up and costs down came direct from Ford..."

Wow...aren't you clever linking Edsel to the Eclipse manager from Ford...like a 50 year old vehicle has something to do with a manager from Ford today.

Funny, you didn't link him to Charlie Sorensen ... or the Willow Run Bomber Plant that Ford designed and ran...and could turn out one B-24 per hour at less than 1/2 the original cost.

It's all in the spin you want to put on it - isn't it?

(http://www.strategosinc.com/willow_run.htm

Dave said...

I'm unclear as to why this all matters to you. Are you an investor? Did you purchase a plane? If not - why in the world do you care what happens at Eclipse Aviation?

Great, another person who feels like taxpayer funds are just an extended part of their personal piggybank. It's very troubling you don't want any oversight. No wonder there's so much government waste when there's people like you cheering it on. Millions of people are investors in Eclipse and those involved want even more power. I don't think we should just sweep the goings on at Eclipse under the rug when it's gone so far as one the politicians involved is running for President of the US and another wants to be US Senator.

bob said...

mrwango,
None of us bloggers care what happens to EAC (minus employees and suppliers), but quite a few of us may have spent many years there, have an airplane on order or were involved with EAC in some way. After experiencing the culture, we are all interested to see where EAC ends up and the blog is just a fun way to express opinions.

mirage00 said...

Millions of people are investors in Eclipse and those involved want even more power. I don't think we should just sweep the goings on at Eclipse under the rug when it's gone so far as one the politicians involved is running for President of the US and another wants to be US Senator.

Wow... nice to see how this blog evolved. Eclipse = Scamming Millions of people?

Stan shouldn't you bring this back to the technical issues this blog was founded on? How about that "wing that's too short" or "dangerous CG issue"?

I remain amused

double 00

bob said...

What the shareholders were told:
EAC is out of money in December.
$200 million needed to get production at 2-3 AC per day. This will allow the company to achieve IPO.
If EAC sells, they need to sell for $3 billion in order for all shareholders to "break even"

mirage00 said...

What the shareholders were told:
EAC is out of money in December.
$200 million needed to get production at 2-3 AC per day. This will allow the company to achieve IPO.
If EAC sells, they need to sell for $3 billion in order for all shareholders to "break even"


Hmmmm... when and by whom?

I remain amused

double 00

John said...

Oct 5th interview claimed that DayJet had 8 planes coming "next week". An additional ten were to be added by Dec. 31

I believe only 3 new planes are in the Day Jet fleet as of the Oct. 31, so DJ is 5 planes arrears the Oct 5th schedule and slipping.


http://www.cfdc.org/home/news/details.aspx?id=137

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

mirage00
Words straight from Vern.

mirage00 said...

I believe only 3 new planes are in the Day Jet fleet as of the Oct. 31, so DJ is 5 planes arrears the Oct 5th schedule and slipping.

Has it occurred to anyone that possibly, just quite possibly, the FAA database is in error or at the very least, lagging? I mean we all know any government run organization is right on top of technology and services :) but maybe the FAA database has some issues. Then again, if they are involved in the "Conspiracy" as most believe, they would make sure all records were being updated real time.

I remain amused

double 00

Stan Blankenship said...

For the moment, forget DayJet and their 1,430 orders and options.

Eclipse's 1,000+ backlog is based on a selling price around $1m plus CPI. Until these contracts are cleared, the company will lose money on every airplane they deliver.

Ramping up production will just increase the flow of red ink.

The company needs to get away from these bargin basement sales. This would of course be devestating to Ken and the other owners-in-waiting, anxious to get an airplane that will cost twice as much to build as what they are paying.

Shane Price said...

Mr. Wango (?)

The Edsel was a famous marketing flop, designed and built by a well established company which otherwise should have made the brand successful.

I could have mentioned Guiness Light, but it would not have made any sense to you guys.

The Eclipse story is one (IMHO) which should caution everyone, not just people like me. I came looking for a private aircraft and stayed because of the quality and variety of the views expressed here.

Most of them anyway...

So, when I say that the 'man from Ford' has failed to raise production to levels promised (several times) and mention the Edsel in the same post, it is only by way of illustration of what can go wrong with the best laid plans from leading companies.

Eclipse, and Vern Raburn in particular, have demonstrated time and time again an inablility to a) make realistic plans and b) put in place the resouces to achieve same.

As you will have gathered, I don't like what I have observed. I hope you take the time to read some of the posts in earlier threads, which might help you understand what a number of people feel is going wrong.

Shane

bill e. goat said...

ASM,
I agree with you regarding the Dulles arangement- very odd.

MOO,
I sincerely think the blog is beneath you. Bloggers critiquing bloggers, now you critiquing bloggers blogging bloggers.

I wouldn't waste anymore of your time here.

Stan Blankenship said...

A reader provided the following from the UK Financial Times which in part read:

22 October, 2007

Figeac Aero (a French company) has won a five-year supply contract from Eclipse Aviation, which will represent 12 per cent of business for the company in the coming year.

Original article by Laurent Marcaillou
Abstracted from Les Echos

mirage00 said...

I sincerely think the blog is beneath you. Bloggers critiquing bloggers, now you critiquing bloggers blogging bloggers.

I wouldn't waste anymore of your time here.


Amen to that...

I remain amused

double 00

Niner Zulu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
a37pilot said...

I confess, I'm holding the C of A's hostage for One Billllion Dollars, since I have 38 in the Eclipse delivery predictions.

Dave said...

When Ed Iacobucci comes out with new software that shows how Dayjet can make money with all it's jets sitting on the ground, then he'll really have something. :-)

Actually he could by going into the aircraft resale business as he's paying less than the current Eclipse price. Just hand everything over to Mike Press to sell and all he'd need is a one-man office with no expensive insurance or employees to pay. Another option would be to demand a payment from Eclipse to cancel his 1000+ plus options. The most valuable asset of DayJet's and the biggest liability of Eclipse are those aircraft options for below market price. Each aircraft delivery to DayJet represents a huge hemorraging of capital on the part of Eclipse. If DayJet filed for BK now, they'd probably come out ahead since there isn't a flood of Eclipse aircraft on the market and some other entity might want to acquire the 1000+ options to roll the dice.

AeroObserver said...

Flightcenter,

I'm calling shenanigans on your CO2 footprint analysis for the CJ3 and Eclipse 500. You can't use an average pax load for the car and A380 but not the business jets.

According to NBAA, the average pax load for a business airplane is 3.5, and since both are single-pilot jets they both can accommodate this pax load (granted the CJ3 can do it with more space per pax).

With 3.5 pax, then the Eclipse would be 450 g CO per pax mile and the CJ3 would be 768 g CO2 per pax mile.

A business jet will never beat an airliner or car in raw numbers, but if you take into account airline connections and other airline travel inefficiencies (ground and air delays, etc), then a direct route in a business airplane C02 footprint might be equivalent --or much closer to -- to that of the airliner.

Also, the A380 comparison is also out of bounds -- you're comparing an airplane designed for over-ocean travel that the other modes cannot accomplish.

hummer said...

Mike Press report is out on sp pilot
for Sept./Oct.

rcflyer said...

bob,

Where you at the investors meeting? If so, you should have signed a non-disclosure agreement. If you did, then you have very little personal integrity.

R.C.

anonymous avionics engineer said...

rcflyer:

Very little integrity is still much much more than Eclipse has.

DayJetStudent said...

RC,
What agreements have you signed, and how's YOUR Eclipse blog doing?

sparky said...

From eclipses' latest press release:

"At Eclipse, challenging general aviation norms and going beyond what's expected is a daily imperative,"

you would think the daily imperative would be to finish the jet an build one a day.

just a matter of time.

rcflyer said...

dayjetstudent,

I signed the investor's non-disclosure agreement.

Apart from one initial comment, I got no traffic on my blog, so I deleted it. That will probably be interpreted as negative news for Eclipse Aviation :)

R.C.

Shane Price said...

a37pilot,

I'm not sure the rest of us agreed to the winner getting a Billion Dollars.

Nice idea though. Wish I'd thought of it myself!

RCflyer,

The LAST thing that an Eclipse shareholder should be worried about right now is a non disclosure agreement. If I was one (and I am not) the only thing on my mind would be...

... how the hell do I get out of this mess?

After getting out, I would try to sell my story for 0.5% of what I had lost, and put the other 99.5% down to experience.

Shane

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

Since the taxpayers of New Mexico have invested “millions” in Eclipse (by default), sooner or later someone with power and guts will demand a full disclosure of the “books”, and the books will be opened. By Eclipse accepting public funds to underwrite their efforts, they must, sooner or later, disclose to the public how they have spent “taxpayers’ money”. At least, that’s the way it should be in an honest setting.

(‘Let’s see how our famous governor, “presidential candidate”, who has not once taken a ride in the “jet” that he helped fund, handle this one.)

The reasons behind the wishes for success or failure may not all be financial. Some come from that strange mind-set that says honesty should be rewarded, and dishonesty should be punished.

There is yet a third motivation that is concerned about the future safety of those who will fly in the little jet, in years to come, and expect to arrive safe and sound at their destinations. Very few of these concerns have been openly discussed . . . maybe from lack of expertise, or unwillingness to face certain simple facts, or just general malaise.

And another motive is the concern over the changes that will affect the entire aircraft and air travel industries, because of the “stir” caused by the claims of those who promised to change general aviation.

No matter how you slice it, all of us are caught up in this thing, one way or another. And if Stan had not provided an open forum to discuss . . . and yes, to criticize this little company, by the simple forces of political pressure another “blogsite” would have been born. When things don’t quite smell right, there is a reason . . . and no-one will rest until the source of that smell is “found out” and removed.

The usual comments will now begin . . . to demean my comments, and to cover over the stench with some sort of deoderant, or “$1.00 per gallon perfume (with a ten cent refund on the can)” . . . so be it. The operation doesn’t pass the smell test . . . both sides know it. You don’t get what you pay for, but you will pay for what you get!

gadfly

(My prediction still stands: December 31, 2007, will come . . . and go, without the delivery of a single “complete as promised” E500 . . . Prove me wrong!)

bill e. goat said...

Gadfly,
I'd make that 50/50 for July 01, 2008

rcflyer said...

gadfly,

Your wager that Eclipse won't deliver a "complete as promised" jet by the end of this year would be a sucker bet. Eclipse themselves have said that the first release of AvioNG won't have moving map, etc.

Now, I realize that they previously made promises that all the features would be in place by now, which would have made your bet more interesting in the past, but it's completely moot now.

R.C.

eclipseobserver said...

Eclipse Aviation Brings Airline-Quality Safety Program to General Aviation

Company establishes first FAA-approved aircraft manufacturer FOQA program

ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- October 31, 2007 -- Eclipse Aviation, manufacturer of the world's first very light jet (VLJ), today announced that it has received approval of its Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA - pronounced foh-qwah) program from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Eclipse Aviation is the only aircraft manufacturer that has received FAA approval for a FOQA program that includes flight data monitoring capability consistent with the advanced programs used by commercial airline operations (FAR Part 121), the safest demonstrated flight operations in the world.

Until now, FOQA was implemented only within resource-rich commercial airlines, and was largely unheard of in the general aviation and small corporate-fleet world. Eclipse's FOQA program is breaking new ground, and is largely enabled by the next-generation integrated avionics and data collection systems designed for and incorporated in the Eclipse 500 very light jet.

"At Eclipse, challenging general aviation norms and going beyond what's expected is a daily imperative," said Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse Aviation. "This FAA-approved FOQA program reflects our commitment to live up to these ideals by introducing a world-class flight operation strategy to general aviation that will deliver airline-quality safety to our customers. FOQA is a perfect addition to our progressive safety management system (SMS), which gives us the tools to proactively ensure the highest level of safety across all Eclipse 500 operations."

FOQA, used by most major airlines around the world, employs sophisticated software to capture and analyze recorded flight data. The information gathered by this system is used to proactively identify, assess and correct high-risk operating conditions before they cause an accident. FOQA programs are frequently cited as contributing to the impressive safety record of U.S. airlines over the past decade. FOQA initiatives have been used to identify and improve everything from deficiencies in pilot training programs, manuals and processes, to aircraft design issues and hazardous air traffic control procedures.

Eclipse Safety Management System (SMS)
Consistent with the internationally-endorsed SMS philosophy, Eclipse has built a SMS that does not treat aviation safety risk management as the responsibility of a reactive independent group, but rather as an all-encompassing proactive safety culture. Instead of waiting for hazards to be identified through accidents, Eclipse's SMS creates a process and culture for pinpointing risks so they can be managed in advance of an incident or accident. FOQA is central to this process, using objective flight data and powerful software that allows Eclipse to understand what is actually happening with the Eclipse 500 in the field. Eclipse is currently developing a complementary program, called the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), which will provide insight into why events are happening. Through ASAP, Eclipse 500 pilots will voluntarily identify and report on issues encountered while operating their aircraft. This system will correlate this subjective information with objective FOQA data, creating a comprehensive awareness of hazards and risks never before achieved by an aircraft manufacturer.

FOQA is the cornerstone for identifying, assessing and analyzing flight-related hazards within the Eclipse 500 fleet. A key enabler of this technology is the Eclipse 500's highly-integrated avionics design, Avio NG, which allows Eclipse to capture virtually everything that happens when an aircraft is operated. Once this data is collected, it is processed by sophisticated software created by Austin Digital, Inc., an industry leader in airline FOQA analysis systems. This software uses complex algorithms to continuously churn through thousands of hours of flight data, while highlighting and reporting abnormal events and trends across the fleet. This enables Eclipse to investigate and determine root causes, develop strategies to mitigate risks, and implement corrective actions. Finally, the FOQA system provides a mechanism to monitor and adjust the effectiveness of corrective actions, thus closing the loop on the process to ensure optimal operational safety.

"FOQA programs are not new, but are today considered state-of-the-art in the airline industry," said Eclipse Aviation's Manager of Flight Safety Chris Solan. "Our program is revolutionary because as a general aviation aircraft manufacturer we are essentially taking on the role and responsibilities of a sophisticated airline, aggregating large amounts of data so systemic trends can be easily identified. When this trend data is combined with our Eclipse 500 aircraft design knowledge, pilot and maintenance training program oversight, aircraft manual and procedure authorship and tight-knit FAA working relationship - we can bring a tremendous improvement in safety to our customers, particularly individual or small-fleet operators."

For more information on the Eclipse SMS, refer to the following link: www.eclipseaviation.com/files/pdf/EAC_PR_CASS_Paper.pdf

About Eclipse Aviation
Eclipse Aviation is the world's leading very light jet (VLJ) manufacturer, producing innovative, affordable jets that are revolutionizing air transportation. The company created the VLJ category with the design, certification and delivery of the Eclipse 500 - the industry's first VLJ. Eclipse applies advanced technologies, manufacturing processes and business practices to create high-performance aircraft that cost a fraction of other jets, and provide the lowest cost of jet ownership ever achieved. By changing the value proposition for private jet travel, Eclipse is allowing more pilots to enter the world of jet-powered aviation and enabling a new generation of entrepreneurs to help business travelers move between cities on a quick, affordable and convenient basis. Contact Eclipse at http://www.eclipseaviation.com.

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FlightCenter said...

aeroobserver,

You are right that it is unfair to compare an A380 to biz jets. Sorry. I found the A380 CO2 footprint interesting and mentioned it only because of the recent press from Airbus on the subject.

The intent was to provide a bit of context for the meat of the post, which was to compare the E500 and CJ3 CO2 footprints.

In terms of being fair to the Eclipse 500, the calculation previously posted was based on the absolute best case for Eclipse. 3 passengers is the absolute best case for an Eclipse 500 operated by any of their air taxi customers. The air taxi companies are operating with two crew and have only three seats available for passengers.

The CJ3 calculation was also based on the same assumption, fill all the seats in the back. The intent was to show both biz jets in the best possible light.

However, as you point out, no one ever fills all the seats on every flight. It is much more likely that the Eclipse air taxi services are operating with an average passenger load closer to 1.5 passengers per flight than 3.

Using that estimate for the Eclipse and the NBAA number you supplied for the CJ3, the CJ3 still comes out ahead.

CJ3 = 769 g CO2 per passenger mile
E500 = 1,050 g CO2 per passenger mile

The CJ3 comes out ahead even if you assume that the E500 has an average of 2 passengers (load factor 67%) compared to the CJ3 average of 3.5 passengers (load factor 58%).

E500 @ 67% = 789 g CO2 per passenger mile vs. 769 g CO2 for the CJ3.

Regarding Vern’s claim that the E500 is the greenest jet, these calculations indicate that the E500 sure isn’t the greenest jet, in fact it isn’t even the greenest biz jet.

hummer said...

FOQA = Next round of financing
in December.
Gotta love it.

Niner Zulu said...

Someone explain to me how FOQA is going to stop a guy from taking off at 10PM in IFR conditions, flying for 2 hours, and shooting an approach when he's way too tired to be up to the task. These types of situations occur every day - we all know they are dangerous, but people continue to auger in despite the warnings.

gadfly said...

RC

My original prediction was made about the time that the general "guesses" were being accepted . . . before Eclipse made their intentions known. It was never a "wager", and I made it clear "back then" that my prediction was never to be included in the "contest". Even then, it would have been a "sucker bet" . . . but I do not wager on anything. The purpose of my statements was to illustrate from the start, that this enterprise would not succeed . . . a quick look back then should have told anyone its final demise. And I stand by that early assessment.

gadfly

bill e. goat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.