Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bambazonke's Views on the Secondary Market

Reading the market econometric studies that are being promulgated by my learned blogger colleagues, let me make a few comments, based on what I KNOW;

1. The Eclipse market has fallen like an oak felled by an axe. Inquiries that were reasonably brisk up until the news broke, have just died.

2. Platinum positions are languishing on the market, look at the days since listed, they are growing by the day. You can get a Platinum position, for under $1,6m and not even try.

This is a position that includes the options and includes the fact that there is no CPI unless the CPI rises above 3.6% then you pay the difference between 3.6 and the prevailing CPI for the term it was above 3.6.

Contrast this with the position that EAC is selling, you will note that you can purchase a plane today from them for 2-300k less than one that will be delivered 2-3 years after yours. This is bad economics for EAC, it means that because their order book is so deep, that they have created their own 'boogie man', the person that purchased a position in 2000.

So as hard as they try and peddle their planes, there will always be others out there that can undercut them for the same product by significant margins and deliver it sooner. This is a sure fire recipe for EAC to go broke, if the other plagues and pestilences that are afflicting them don't perish them before this.

3. All buyers want to know when delivery will take place. Right now no one can answer that question and EAC has gone into mum mode, so there is no possibility of getting an answer from them. Whilst this atmosphere prevails, the chance of making a sale on an EAC-500 wonder jet are slim to none.

4. There is something interesting about the prospective buyers that are in the market. EAC has managed to generate interest in the non flying fraternity. This you might say would be a plus, but not really, they are less trusting of the mantra that is emanating from ABQ of 'trust me it'll all be fine' than the position holders that have enough aviation knowledge to be drunk on their own perceptions of what is good and bad.

So this segment of the buying public is harder to impale with a sales contract than the pilot with the ego-jet mentality.

5. In this Internet day and age, where information is disseminated to the four corners of the globe at the flick of a send button, the price that the last wonder jet sells at, is the price that the next one starts at. Unfortunately for KKA and his merry gang of followers, many of these sellers are not banking on making the mortgage payment based on what they realize on the sale of the jet.

So whatever one of these sellers lets the wonder jet go for in the market, is not necessarily going to change his lifestyle. BUT, as each plane changes hands at a lower number, forever spiraling down into the abyss of the price range of the Barons and other lesser planes, the life style of one Vern Raburn and his crew of desert imbibers will be immeasurably altered, unless of course he can resurrect Milton Friedman and come up with some economic spin on how as you lose x dollars on each plane, the market economies are such that you can make up the short fall on volume.

Kenny, EO38X and EB, take it from your sparring blogging buddies, this is the time to sell, it won't get any better than it is now
Honeywell you say?

Twinpilot provided the following:

Aviation International News just reported:

"Eclipse’s Relationship with Avidyne Terminated

VLJ developer Eclipse Aviation announced last week that its relationship with avionics supplier Avidyne has ended. Eclipse plans to announce shortly which companies will supply components for the Model 500’s Avio integrated avionics system.

AIN has been told by a source close to the process that Honeywell will be sharing the job with another specialist, thought to be Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S).

Also, the FAA Flight Standardization Board (FSB) this week released its draft Eclipse 500 report, which specifies “master training, checking and currency requirements applicable to flight crews.”

Certain mandatory training prerequisites include studying jet operations and single-pilot resource management; a Myers-Briggs type indicator test complete with a psychologist’s review of the results; and emergency procedures training (physiological and hypoxia training and upset training in Eclipse’s L-39 jet training airplane).

All Part 91 pilots will be required to participate in Eclipse’s mentoring program. The FSB report noted that the FAA considers the Eclipse a centerline-thrust twin “since no VMC speed is published,” and pilots who are not multiengine rated will have a limitation placed on their type rating specifying centerline thrust only."

Twin pilot added, Honeywell and IS&S can certainly do the job if allowed to but it won't be cheap.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Three Requests


First from airtaximan, an Eclipse model for frank castle, available on ebay.
Second, from a reader venturing a non-legal opinion on the Eclipse attempt to collect the 60% progress payments out of the next block (units 200-400) of position holders (notice, I never call them owners).
Well, since no real lawyers seem to want to respond to claudeb, let me take a stab at it: it is hard for me to imagine how Eclipse could cause themselves any legal liability by simply telling the truth as best they can. To the extent that statements (rather than actions) could cause Eclipse legal liabilities their biggest exposure, I think, would be if someone could successfully bring an action for fraud against them.
As I understand it, fraud is a high standard to prove: fraud only occurs when one makes statements that one knows to be false and those statements induce someone to incur a loss. Selling the same airplane twice would be fraud. Selling an airplane for delivery six months from now, if you have an internal schedule that you believe will result in that delivery, is not fraud, even if you actually end up being late.
Promising to deliver 400 airplanes when there are only 200 engines scheduled for delivery by the end of the year, might get to be a problem.
In the investment world, the law provides a "get out of jail free" card. Whenever a company provides information about their future plans they add a boilerplate "forward looking statements" section that says that things might not turn out they way they plan. This protects them unless the statements in question were known to be lies and were asserted simply to get people to buy or hold the companies stock.
Of course, one can bring an action against anyone for any reason you want. In Eclipse's case, I think they increase their liability for such actions by failing to correct public statements that have turned out to not be true. If I were the plaintiff I would argue that once Eclipse knew that its previous statements were false, failure to correct them constituted fraud. I would have to also show that I depended on such statements in good faith and that that dependence caused me a loss.
Of course I would expect that in most cases Eclipse could easily settle any such suit by returning the deposit or delivering the plane.
But I am not a lawyer and Eclipse doesn't seem to be looking to me for advice.
Third request, links pertinent to the Avidyne situation:
The scoop came from CharterX, eat your heart out Capt. Zoom:
Another reader suggests Eclipse may have found a replacement and offered the following:
It looks like Eclipse is planning on using Crossbow for their AHRS vendor.
It's interesting to note that last year people building experimental aircraft (RV-10 amongst others) using Chelton glass panels had numerous problems with a Crossbow produced AHRS. Direct-2 Avionics (Chelton's retailer to the experimental market) ended up paying to replace theCrossbow units with Pinpoint AHRS. Probably not the same model as Eclipse is using but the comments that there was no faith that Crossbow would get their design problems sorted out are telling.).
Here is a link to some of those problems:
News Update from ABQ

Mass Raid on Eclipse Facilities

By Jim McKlain
Journal Staff Writer

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Following months of delays, the Very Light Jet (VLJ) manufacturer Eclipse Aviation has inadvertently unleashed a veritable storm cloud of low-cost jets into the New Mexico skies - well, parts at least. Last Thursday, as reported by local state employees located adjacent to the Eclipse facilities (located at the Albuquerque International Sunport), a crowd of hundreds of angry depositors stormed the manufacturing facilities in an apparent attempt to lay claim to literally thousands of incomplete airplane parts.

While not entirely clear what prompted the mad rush for these semi-built VLJ’s, one witness claimed to overhear the crowd yelling chants of “I can build this damn thing faster myself!” and “Take my money to pay for someone else’s airplane – I’ll show you.”

While Eclipse has made claim to be the first to certify the Eclipse 500, there has been little to no sign of actual ability to manufacture or deliver these little “wonder jets”, while other more traditional “latecomer” companies have made significantly more progress.

Amidst the confusion, Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse, was seen wandering apparently aimlessly and somewhat dazed amongst the strewn out parts, repeatedly chanting "We make the fuselage in three sections, starting with the belly.", intermixed with "I think part of what the Eclipse 500 is today is a direct, absolute reflection of my knowledge and my experience from the computer business,". The quotes were reportedly random portions of previous press releases related to the long-overdue, and vastly over budget development of the little VLJ.

One apparently furious depositor was reportedly seen stuffing several rolls of gaffers tape into Mr. Raburns mouth, yelling “stir fry weld this!!" The source of the reference is unknown. Mr. Raburn did not seem to resist the effort, but did continue to mumble something about if he could just get more deposits.

The confusion apparently died down after about an hour of scavenging and several fist-fights, where some depositors had to be taken to the local medical facilities for minor treatment. An apparent source of frustration between the battling depositors was confusion over who exactly had paid for what specific parts. At one point, four separate depositors were seen struggling over a single windshield, each claiming to have paid for it. The windshield eventually fractured into four parts, whereupon the depositors moved quietly on to collect other components.

When one depositor was stopped and asked what he intended to do with the parts, he stated that he intended to hand them over to engineers at Cessna to “see what they could do with them”.

Just as the preverbal dust was settling, a debris covered individual was seen frantically running from the scene yelling “We fully expected this minor set back and will be back in the air and flying within a couple of days, at most”. The individual was later found panic stricken and huddling in a storm drain, and identified as Eclipse spokesman Andrew Broom. Police had determined that Mr. Broom had actually been one of the early casualties of the entire incident and had been wrapped in duct-tape, along with Mr. Raburn, and hung out on the advanced, state of the art flight-test telemetry antenna just outside the main facilities.

It’s unclear the long term impact this new outcome will have on the companies future, but Mr. Raburn appeared to be in a chipper mood at the local hospital, after receiving skin grafts on both his shins.

Thanks, metalguy for bringing this important story to our attention.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Training/Mentoring

First a question, where in hell is the Eclipse simulator?

This is 2005! Simulators are de rigueur for any self respecting business jet training.

Are we going to hear they haven't had time to build a simulator?

They've had 6 or 7 years to get one built!

Are we going to hear they don't have the money for one?

Eclipse is knocking on the billion dollar development door with what they have burnt plus what the suppliers (like Pratt and Avidyne) have spent. What are we talking about, a half-percent of the development budget?

But they've got mentoring, a new idea, well sort of.

Forty years ago at Learjet, after delivery and completion of ground and flight training, we would send an instructor pilot along for a couple of weeks to allow the new crew in a new airplane to get comfortable in their own surroundings.

The Eclipse program works a little differently:

Training was included in the Type Certificate however, it did not give Eclipse the exclusive position that they wanted, so they placed the mentoring requirement in the AFM, which is an FAA approved document.

It is beyond the scope of this post to try and encapsulate the complexity of what the Eclipse idea of mentoring entails. I suspect only a small percentage of pilots designated to fly the Eclipse will be exempt from the mentoring requirement. And while intended to promote safety, it is going to be difficult to administer even more difficult to support, difficult to imagine the program as structured today holding up over the long term.

The goal is safety of course, and to prevent individuals with more money than piloting skills to go out and kill themselves (and others). Eclipse has taken on that responsibility and taken on the liability as well.

But back on the subject of mentoring, Eclipse details the program in their website:

http://www.eclipseaviation.com/ownership/mentor_faqs

A "fair use" quote establishes the basis:

The Eclipse 500 Pilot Mentoring Program is a critical element of the Eclipse 500 Training Program. It is intended to raise Eclipse 500 pilots to a level of proficiency such that they are competent to operate safely as a solo pilot in any environment they might fly.

Eclipse has screened, selected, and trained highly experienced jet pilots to accompany new Eclipse 500 pilots during their initial operating experience. Mentors do not function as flight instructors; instead they lend their extensive experience in aviation decision-making to the new jet pilot.

End quote.

Want an exemption from the mentoring requirement, it's possible if you have:

5,000 hrs TT
1,000 hrs turbojet time
500 hrs turbojet PIC
100 hrs in past year
25 hrs in past 90 days operating a turbine powered A/C as single pilot operating flight management system or moving map navigator
Minimum two turbojet type ratings.

Otherwise, take delivery of your airplane, complete your training and welcome to the mentoring program. You will be evaluated, proficiency goals set and you will be introduced to your new $600/day (plus expenses), mentor and no, you can't bring your next door neighbor, who happens to be a retired United Captain, Eclipse will assign you that guy over there in the corner, asleep in the chair. He has been waiting a long time for an assignment.

It all sounds good on paper.

There is no doubt the company plans to implement the most stringent training requirements in the industry. But in spite of their best intentions, there will be accidents and there will be lawsuits and the company has once again set themselves up as a big target, this time in the courtroom.

Eclipse's inscessant claims for safety are going to be repeated over and over and over, not by the defense but by a sharp tongued plaintiff's lawyer. I can almost hear him now:

"Your assured my client's husband the airplane was safe. You said if he passed all your training requirements, he would be safe. Now look at the first row in this courtroom, the pretty widow, and the three darling girls all in their matching pinafores, all destined to go through life without their beloved whom you said would be safe in your hands!"

Vern, your words will come back to haunt you!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Question to Eclipse Buyers from bambazonke

I don't wish to insult all Eclipse purchasers, but does anyone here have a good reason why a buyer; read the one in the driving seat, would sign a contract that had the following verbiage:

15.5 Attorney Fees. If Seller is prevailing party in any action to enforce its rights under this Agreement, Seller shall be entitled to its fees, costs and expenses (Including attorney's fees and expenses) in connection therewith).

What about the Buyer's fees enforcing the contract..SOL?

Under Disclaimer and Release:

ii) Except for the obligations expressly undertaken by Seller herein, Buyer hereby waives and releases all rights, claims, and remedies with respect to any all warranties express, implied or statutory (including without limitation, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness and any implied warranties arising from liabilities in tort or contract arising by law or otherwise including (1) LIABILITY FOR SELLER'S OWN NEGLIGENCE, (2) STRICT LIABILITY OR PRODUCT LIABILITY AND (3) ANY OBLIGATIONS OF SELLER WITH RESPECT TO INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF USE, OR CHANGE IN MARKET VALUE OF THE AIRCRAFT. THIS SECTION 9.ii shall not be interpreted to affect in any way Seller's obligations, if any for third party claims for property damage personal injury or wrongful death. (My emphasis on the caps above).

What person in their right mind would give away their rights for the negligence of another, particularly an outfit like this...

iii) IF AN ALLEGED DEFECT THAT WOULD BE COVERED BY THIS LIMITED AIRCRAFT WARRANTY CAUSES THE DESTRUCTION OF THE AIRCRAFT BEYOND ECONOMICAL REPAIR, THEN AND ONLY THEN, BUYER HEREBY WAIVES AND RELEASES FOR ITSELF AND ITS INSURERS ALL RIGHTS, CLAIMS AND REMEDIES WITH RESPECT TO ANY CLAIMS AND REMEDIES WITH RESPECT TO ANY CLAIMS FOR THE RECOVERY OF THE VALUE OF THE AIRCRAFT OR THE LOSS OF USE OF THE AIRCRAFT WITH RESPECT TO ANY AND ALL WARRANTIES EXPRESSED (INCLUDING THOSE PROVIDED IN THIS LIMITED WARRANTY) IMPLIED OR STATUTORY (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS), DUTIES, OBLIGATIONS, LIABILITIES, IN TORT OR CONTRACT ARISING BY LAW OR OTHERWISE INCLUDING (1) LIABILITY FOR THE SELLERS OWN NEGLIGENCE OR (2) STRICT LIABILITY OR PRODUCT LIABILITY. THIS SECTION 9 iii SHALL NOT BE INTERPRETED TO AFFECT IN ANY WAY SELLER'S OBLIGATIONS, IF ANY FOR THIRD PARTY CLAIMS FOR PROPERTY DAMAGE, PERSONAL INJURY, OR WRONGFUL DEATH.

I would be interested to know how many spouses know of the rights that have been signed away for negligence of the Seller, equally important, how many Insurance carriers that have quoted the risk on the wonder jet, know that their remedies and rights for Seller's negligence have been waived..

Given this companies track record of coming clean, I would feel particularly naked having waived these rights against their negligence.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Thanks...but no thanks


First person accounts from three who flirted with the Eclipse and then walked away:

Jetman said...

I purchased an Eclipse position in August of 2000 and when they were willing to sell me another position at the same price in November of 05 if I rolled over for the price increase, increased my deposit to 155k for each and released the deposit, I weighed the risks and did it.

In the Spring of 06 and before Oshkosh I started smelling a rat. I listened in on the "conference calls" and yet I was never quick enough to be able to ask a question and when all the questions were softball questions, I decided to sell my positions.

I visited Independence, Kansas last week and flew a production Mustang (MLJ-medium light jet) 355 knots at FL340 with 5 men in excess of 170 pds. A real jet coming down a real production line.

I opted for reality instead of fantasy and my Eclipse position premiums are helping me pay for it.

I had hoped to fly an Eclipse and transition into a bigger Jet if I needed more size or range. The delays, the unrealistic promises and the unlateral actions helped me decide to exit. I can only hope the implosion I'm betting will happen before Oshkosh 07 will not hurt the aviation industry.

10:28 AM, February 12, 2007

Niner Zulu said...

With regard to the number of Eclipses that have changed hands so far....it does seem that Mike Press has the best handle on what is going on in the resale market. Yes, he has a vested interest in Eclipse and makes a profit where he can - I don't have a problem with that - and if he says that 100 have changed hands then I am inclined to believe his number. My problem with him is that perhaps he is a little too enthusiastic about Eclipse's future prospects. I hope, for his sake, he is right.

If I may offer my take --- I was interested in purchasing an Eclipse position until as late as last November. After doing some homework, visiting the factory, putting out some feelers and talking to other Eclipse position holders, I decided to pass on purchasing a position.

What I discovered in doing my homework is that there are

1) a lot of Eclipse position holders who would really like to dump their position, but just haven't gotten around to it for one reason or another,

2) more than a few position holders that are just plain clueless about Eclipse and have more money than sense, and

3) there are a lot of wait-and-see'ers who just aren't motivated to do anything at this point because they haven't been asked to put up more money yet.

How many of these people are future sellers remain to be seen, but my guess is that there are a lot more out there that may sell before they take delivery and it just wouldn't take that much to start a stampede in the resale market.

I didn't need to find this blog to realize that I was being fed a lot of BS by the Eclipse factory reps and that anything they said was questionable if not downright false. My final assessment was that I don't need to save a million bucks so bad that I am willing to risk a million to buy an unproven product from an unproven company.

Eclipse has proven again and again that they are full of hot air - it's all about hype and marketing. Seriously - has anyone ever seen any airplane manufacturer advertise more than Eclipse? Their ads are everywhere and one has to wonder why. I mean, what is it they are selling - position number 3000 for delivery in 2020? Anyway, the risk of losing everything in the event that the speculators head for the exits was, for me at least, too great.

There are too many products coming on line soon from real companies like Embraer, Diamond, Cessna, Piper, Honda, and Cirrus to seriously consider the Eclipse.

So why am I still interested in this blog if I'm not interested in an Eclipse? Well, my wife wonders the same thing but the short answer is that you guys provide me with regular laughs, good heated debate over a topic I love (aviation) and good information about the other VLJ's as well, one of which I will end up owning in the near future.

9:12 PM, February 12, 2007

Gunner said...

niner zulu-

Hats off to you, guy. I actually stepped up with a deposit before I started paying real attention.

It took me 3 days to realize that the company fosters a cult-like relationship with its "customers". The lies, excuses and "corrections" begin immediately upon "joining" and quickly spiral from there. It's really pretty amazing how Vern keeps so many deposit holders in line. Seriously, who else could get away with claiming "no big deal" when the entire in-shop fleet has been found to have faulty wing spar attachments and windshields/windows that crack every few hours? And still have a chorus raise their voices in adulation of what you've "created".

Anyway, I came, I drank, I got ill, I got out.

What amazes me, though, is bright guys, savvy entrepreneurs and successful businessmen listening to the tales from ABQ weekly and STILL publicly defending them as believable.

In the end, even if you can make a hundred grand or a half mil (directly at the expense of someone else) by selling your position, you've done so at the expense of your credibility and your integrity: internet anonymity be damned.

Things have changed much in six months and one would have to be near blind (or desperate) to pretend that everything's gonna be just peachy as soon as we work out a few wrinkles like cracking windows, unsafe wing spar attachments, avionics that are still on the drawing board, flight training barely past the rumor stage, operating envelopes that look like they were drawn by Pac-Man, a year that would see 500 aircraft delivered with not one out the door as we head toward Month Three, an FAA that will NOT be left holding the ball, and performance that is measured in new terms like "air miles".

Gunner

11:34 PM, February 12, 2007

Sunday, February 11, 2007

No funny no more...

An e-mail arrived lamenting the loss of humor on the blog.

Well Virginia, last summer it was easy to poke fun at the Eclipse program and its cast of characters.

They were a proud bunch, Vern on stage at Oshkosh surrounded by Washington dignitaries. Congratulation all around, handshakes, the press pleading for statements. Everyone associated with the project was busting their buttons with pride.

Vern's dream was just around the corner. His Minister of Propaganda was tossing out production numbers and delivery projections to the waiting faithful. Those 2,500 smart cookies could walk a little taller. They would soon be up there at 41,000 ft looking down at the unwashed masses.

Intoxicating times indeed!

The program was an easy blog target and fair game. Not a problem for Eclipse, they would soon prove the critics wrong.

Needless to say, today ain't last summer. Things aren't so funny anymore, especially to those directly affected.

Probably not so funny to the last investor group that came in coincident with the Provisional Type Certificate when the company was saying full certification was just days away and deliveries would total 100 by the end of the year, 525 by the end of 2007.

The new investor group earned a seat on the Board of Directors and must be asking some tough questions like how could the company fail so miserably in achieving its near term (30-150 days) business objectives.

Probably not so funny to fellow board member Brian Barents.

Had the Eclipse program clicked on schedule and started paying off like Vern had predicted, Brian might have been able to parlay the Eclipse success into his pet project, a supersonic business jet. Unfortunately for him, Eclipse cost overruns, technical difficulties and a billion dollar price tag for a little Part 23 sub-subsonic airplane might make it difficult to raise money for a SSBJ.

Probably not so funny for the Board of Directors as a whole.

The program is not doing so good under their stewardship. The current business model is not sustainable. There are huge costs associated with the development and re-certification work left on the airplane, start up costs to ramp up the production line, costs for the new service centers in Gainsville, Albany and Van Nuys, costs to upgrade however many "A" model airplanes that are delivered, costs here, costs there.

The expected revenues from delivering the first 100 units by the end of 2006 certainly don't exist. Revenues from delivery of the first 525 by the end of this year don't look so good either.

Plus by the time each airframe is delivered, the final payment will only amount to how much have we heard...30%?

If the company has collected the progress payments on first 200 units for delivery and if Eclipse runs out of cash, where will the next batch of money come from? The IPO or maybe Eclipse will try to tap the next block of 200 position holders for their 60% progress payment.

Extorting these progress payments from position holders is a new variation on the old Ponzi scheme. IMO, if any of these deposit holders lose money, they will be in a courtroom asking the board, "Where was the oversight?"

The other investors can't be to happy with the situation. I am quite sure they expected to be seeing some returns by now and they face the real possibility the wheels will come off this donkey cart and the original investors will be linked to the company's failure.

Back on the lack of humor, the situation today can't be much fun for Vern, he is carrying a ton of problems on his shoulders and things are getting worse, not better.

Our jokes at the expense of the employees are probably not welcome. I suspect many are working long hours and sacrificing weekends with their families trying to get the paperwork sorted out to support the PC. This is basic grunt work that could have and should have been worked during the last 24 month period. Then another large group desperately trying to squeeze the last little bit of performance out of the little jet in an attempt to meet the claims of management and marketing, while another group is pushing, pushing, pushing trying to get airplanes out the door, again to satisfy management's wild proclamations.

And those employees promised stock options that might propel them into the ranks of the near wealthy, they gotta wonder, will it ever...

The situation is probably not amusing to the vendors who were promised "too good to be true" production rates and dates that were attractive enough to bring them on board with great expectations.

It is not likely the position holders find much amusing today. The airplane is 6 or 7 years late, doesn't perform as advertised and their deposit is at risk as well.

Sorry Virginia, it's not funny anymore.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Bambazonke Drops Another Bamba

BZ's latest comment trumps what I intended to post tomorrow.

For the benefit of new readers, KKA refers to the mythical symbolic head of Eclipse, Kaptain Kool Aid, who upon drinking the magic kool aid only brewed in New Mexico from a nearly extinct mushroom, KKA is able to visulize events that no one else can see.

KKA is not the same individual as kka who often contributes to the blog but does not drink the same magic kool aid and therefore sees things more like what us mortals see.

Here's Bamba's questions to KKA:


KKA, this Eclipse Magazine is just the type of hype that one could expect from this flim flam outfit? Here are some of the questions I would pose to KKA based on information in the comic release if I was an aviation writer/journalist;

"It’s official. The FAA has awarded Eclipse Aviation its FAA type certification on the Eclipse 500™ jet. As this magazine is being distributed, we are already delivering the first production models" of our revolutionary jet. We are proud to have delivered the very first production jet to Dave Crowe and the second to DayJet."

KKA: just how many of these wonder machines have been delivered now? Does the EA-500 really have a "Type Certificate", or was that just a little misprint "Provisional Type Certificate" maybe, at 5800 lbs, not as the rest of your propaganda machine says 5950 lbs. Is this the kind of butt kicking you boasted about in an interview recently or did we miss something?

"By August 1, we are scheduled to have 12 Eclipse jets in the production line . By the end of 2006, we plan to be manufacturing 1.2 jets a day."

KKA we hear so much about how this wonder company of yours is on the cutting edge, how about updating this comic strip and telling us just how many you delivered to retail customers in 2006, and what your daily production rate is? This ezine of yours does not reflect the current status, and you are misleading the public, again.

"All of us at Eclipse are obviously excited about where we are today. We’ve proven all the critics wrong no matter how they twist the facts. And we will continue to prove them wrong."

KKA, as everyday goes by, and the last time I counted we are 40 days into this year, I see zero deliveries, just who are you proving wrong? What facts are being twisted, you have not produced any facts to be criticized..

"In publications ahead, we plan to share information from the Eclipse Owners’ Club, which is being formed very quickly now that we’re into production."

The Eclipse owners club being formed quickly now you are in production? I guess you meant to say as quickly as we can produce, the Eclipse owners club will be performed, I suppose this is another one of those facts that are being twisted..

"Eclipse, we hope, will be the kind of company with which you want to continue doing business."

KKA, is really the kind of company that you think the world wants to deal with? As everyday goes by, this is becoming more and more of a joke. Your company does not communicate with it's position holders, it makes claims (NBAA Range) that when asked for data to corroborate the claim, you cannot produce this. EAC is a company that went from being transparent to one that is highly secretive, EAC places onerous restrictions on data that position holders who have parted with huge up front payments should be entitled to, like a POH. No this company does not meet the profile of a company that people want to continue to deal with.

"FAA type certification has been achieved. The champagne bottles are empty and the entire Eclipse Aviation team is back hard at work on the next phase of business: ramping up production and delivering quality airplanes on time."

KKA, so tell us once and for all, do you have a TC, can we see this document? When was it awarded? Don't you think that one of the obstacles you have created for yourself is with this hype of yours you have created the perception that EAC is a company that really needs to be watched, particularly by the FAA. Don't you think that your concept of what these credentials are is so out of perspective. Don't you think the use of words such as delivering quality airplanes on time should be deleted from the lexicon of EAC..

"First Deliveries:
• The first Eclipse 500™ was delivered to Dave Crowe
• The second Eclipse 500 was delivered to DayJet
• Nine Eclipse 500s are being delivered in the first two months of production."

KKA, come on, let's get a confession from you that this statement is patently false, it is written in past tense, i.e. the event has occurred. Just how many planes have you truly delivered? Really none? Don't point to Cessna, they are not making claims on the number of planes they have delivered.

"No matter how many articles are written, brochures published, videos created, or speeches delivered, it is inevitable—people simply cannot get enough of Avio! Frankly, we can’t either. Yet the reality is that Avio is such a comprehensive, feature–rich system that the traditional means of disseminating product information simply aren’t adequate. To understand and appreciate Avio, you must experience it. And that is exactly what you will be doing soon in your own Eclipse 500™ jet!"

Right, so where are all these instructional videos, they are not in the hands of the position holders. This wonderful Avio, that has no GPS, no DME, prevents this wonder plane from flying above FL-240, at which altitude the plane has a range of less than 700 miles, great stuff, tell us more...

"Don’t be fooled—the Eclipse 500 is not your daddy’s jet. Instead, the Eclipse 500 is a no–compromise aircraft, offering standard features like autothrottle, smart crew alerting, electronic checklists, control–based system synoptics…and the list goes on. Total Aircraft Integration means more for less, which is the Eclipse Aviation definition of value."

KKA, Not our Daddy's jet, really...don't you think our Daddy's jet out performs your little plane any day of the week? Note I said you little plane, I did not say out performs your claims, that is another matter altogether. Autothrottle, yeah right, another slip of the typing keys, don't you know how to spell FADEC, isn't this what you meant to say? Big difference between FADEC and autothrottles.. BTW, is the FADEC working? or is it just another one of those wild claims.

"To date, pilots of all experience levels have had the opportunity to fly the Eclipse 500 (see Bill Nutt’s story on page 12)."

Really..I read Bill Nutt's flight, this is the one where you only let him go to 3000 feet. Great article and the plane was really shown how it performs in it's normal operating environment. Point to a real flight test, with a real aviation journalist, and we would love to read that article.

"The bird’s extremely benign handling characteristics coupled with its outstanding performance capabilities make it very difficult to get yourself into a sticky situation."

KKA, if this bird is so benign why is it that we recommend upset training..yes I have read all the stories about how safe this is supposed to make things.. Just how many jets have been lost in upsets so I can evaluate this..

"The spool time of the Pratt & Whitney 610Fs is almost instantaneous, resulting in turboprop–like acceleration and deceleration rates."

KKA, Gee they look like such little engines, how do they provide a the same deceleration as a turboprop? This another one of those wild claims or something you can back up?

Here is some flight training provided in the magazine for people wanting to be well on the way to flying their Eclipse jet:

"Preparing to Fly the Eclipse 500

FLY GLASS: It doesn’t matter what type of glass or what airplane you get your hands on, just fly glass. A GNS430/530 or MX–20 does not count. I’m talking a fully glass airplane with at least a primary flight display. Get used to interpreting critical flight information such as airspeed, attitude, and altitude on a glass display.

DON’T BE LAZY: When practicing in a glass aircraft, be sure to actually practice. Don’t do the easy stuff; challenge yourself. Never accept the visual approach. Practice flying an instrument approach as many times as you can, couple it to an autopilot, and even practice the missed approach procedure. The best conditioning that you can do for yourself is to sharpen your skills as a single pilot in high–workload events. Of course, don’t forget your safety pilot.

USE THE ECLIPSE TRAINING MATERIAL: New training material is in development that will help you learn the Avio system, and it will be coming to you in advance of your official training. This material will be invaluable to you. The more you use this material, the better prepared you will be for your initial type training course. Take my word for it; you’ll be glad you did.

By applying these simple pointers, you are well on your way to a simple transition into your Eclipse 500 jet. You’re going to love flying and operating this airplane. I’m sure of it!"

Great, read all that, got it, where is my little jet so I can go fly now?

For the original Ezine transcript check:

www.eclipseaviationmag.com

Sunday, February 04, 2007

ABQ - GNV Revisited

The now famous Albuquerque to Gainsville flight was terribly important because as gunner noted in a previous comment:

"... I'd like to point out that the significance of this announcement is not so much the cloudy math and lack of detail, as the fact that Eclipse seems to be claiming to Depositors that these two flights meet the Default Event guarantees. ie: Depositors would now be at the point of no return."

Now, bambazonke has had a couple of days to analyze the data and offers the following:

"EAC data has always quoted NBAA reserves...

In order to establish NBAA reserves and CLAIM them, the NBAA have a specific format that was not followed by EAC. Firstly the flight needs to be carried out at MTOW. Next the aircraft is to fly to it's destination, descend, shoot and approach, climb to 5000 feet, (this is known as the K-L leg) loiter for 5 minutes, climb to optimum altitude for flight to the alternate, fly 200 miles (not 100) and descend at 3000 feet per min to sea level and land with adequate fuel. The fuel on board is then stated as landing with IFR or VFR reserves.

NBAA have a standard form that is available for performing this test and verification of the claim of NBAA range. There is no place on the form for 'Air Miles' or any of the other terms that EAC use to stretch the truth, all speeds are to be calibrated to ISA and zero wind conditions.

From where I read the report from EAC and where I think they failed in their representation of NBAA reserves;

1. They do not state that the flight was performed at MTOW.

2. They did not perform an approach and loiter at 5000 feet, and they did not perform the NBAA JET alternate which is 200 miles. (The 100 nm alternate is a Turbo Prop alternate). Admittedly they claim to have held at GNV, so I am not sure that this is a big deal other than not following the NBAA protocol. EAC say in their missive that the flight was 1333 miles, but this is probably counting the circles they did in their 5 minute loiter, that is simply not the way it is done folks, the miles are calculated as the airway distance between the way points. IF they flew the airways from TLH (which I doubt looking at the funny little map that they issued with the missive) the distance would have been 133 miles from TLH to GNV, add this up, giving them the benefit of the doubt the total distance was 1212 miles, not 1330.

3. They have not normalized the values to zero wind. Taking the prevailing winds reported by NOAA and other credible sources on the day, the average tail wind component for the 3hr 42 mins was 74 knots. If they had calculated 'Air Miles' if such a thing exists, it would have been necessary to reduce the distance between ABQ and TLH to 905 miles to accommodate the winds.

4. This means that the pilot had this plane throttled way back, his TAS would have been 244 knots with these winds. The climb distance I notice on the graph was 200 miles, this also indicates that they were using a cruise climb configuration for the climb. The NBAA requires the range to be calculated at Normal Cruise Power, so again here I believe is another area where they are misleading their shareholders."

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Customer Concerns

The following was posted on the owners forum and sent to me by a reader. I have no way to vouch for its authenticity but have no reason to doubt it either.

"Although most of the delivery status conversations on this board focus on Eclipse receiving their Production Certificate (PC) as being the critical path for volume deliveries, it has occurred to me (and I'm sure to many others) that there really are several parallel critical paths required for volume production, delivery, and perhaps equally importantly, customers being able to get trained and use their jets and get service & support, all facing delays and uncertainty.

The completion of the (FAA) Flight Standardization Board (FSB) review last week led me to think that even if 5, 10, or 25 planes had been delivered last year, as previously promised, there would not have been an FAA approved program to train the pilots, therefore we may have received planes but not have been able to use them. So I'll call an approved, complete and ramped up training capability the first critical path item that received a major step forward last week but still is not in place for large scale training (1-2 planes delivered/day = 2-4 type ratings needed per day, which is a big operation.)

The second obvious critical path item is receiving the PC, required for volume production and deliveries; the latest post with real information seems to be this one:

Quote from: 555ej on January 22, 2007, 03:01:13 PM

The FAA team that is doing the PC will be back on Feb. 5th and will take about 6-10 business days to hopefully finish it, this time. Dan McElroy Co-Chair E5C

And the third rumored problem area that seems to at least be critical path for Part 135 operations (including DayJet), and full avionics functionality, is Avidyne's deliverables (software) for Avio.

So the objective of this post is to have conversations and share information on whether these are the only critical path areas, and speculation (since that's all we can do without much communications from Eclipse in the past month) on which of these will get solved, or perhaps get worse before they get better."

And more from Bob Broders:

"I just received a customer update e-mail from Eclipse with some results from their performance improvement program. On the surface these results seem fantastic: 372kts max speed, and 1156 NBAA IFR range. However, both numbers seem dubious.

Max speed of 372kts is reported at 5290lbs and ISA-7. The "guarantee" is at ISA and 4950lbs. I can't be sure how much 7degrees C will effect the speed, but in the Model A preliminary data, the E500 loses 19kts between ISA and ISA+10 (at FL300). That is nearly 2kts/degreeC. This would imply a max speed of only 364kts at ISA. The demonstrated value was at 300lbs over 4950, so there will be a weight credit, but will only be three or four knots. The "demontration" data doesn't leave me with a lot of confidence in the 370kts at ISA and 4950 gaurantee.

The NBAA 1156 number is based on a flight from ABQ to GNV(1155nm) and a miss to TLH (116nm). It seems like a perfect flight, but winds aloft are not discussed. However, there is a graph of efficiency versus Air Distance. This graph implies that the E500 reached TLH after travelling an air distance of only 1025nm (which jibes with a typical westerly wind). Further, the airplane landed with only 205lbs of fuel. Does this meet the NBAA IFR criteria?

Finally at the end of the customer update, Ken reminds us that though they have exceeded the targeted performance guarantees, the guarantees are not changing and we will most likely see better than "book" performance in our aircraft. Does this mean the E500 AFM will be based on the model B predicted performance instead of its actual performance? I wonder what the FAA with think of that.

--Bob"

Friday, February 02, 2007

News From ABQ

Flightfollowing provided the following:

FROM ECLIPSE:

Many of you have been asking how the Performance Improvement Program is progressing. We are pleased to inform you that we have demonstrated that we have exceeded our performance guarantees of speed and range. Last week we flew N505EA with production quality performance modifications and achieved a maximum speed of 372 KTAS and a maximum NBAA IFR range of 1,156 nm. We are currently completing the FAA certification program such that aircraft delivered in mid-April 2007 will come with these improvements.

As background, please recall the following:

In June 2006, we notified our customers that the Eclipse 500 was not going to meet the performance guarantees we originally announced following our move to the P&WC PW610F engine. We predicted that through a modification plan, there would be two different performing Eclipse 500s delivered to customers. The early customer aircraft (approximately the first 100) would have a range of 1,055 nm (with four occupants, NBAA IFR, 100 nm alternate) and maximum cruise speed of 360 knots. Subsequent customer aircraft would be aerodynamically modified to demonstrate a higher maximum cruise speed of 370 knots and a range of 1,125 nm (with four occupants, NBAA IFR, 100 nm alternate).

Shortly thereafter, we revealed a detailed performance improvement plan that included the extended tip tank, a tail bullet refinement and engine nacelle refinements. At that time, we continued to anticipate that very early customers would only receive the extended tip tank. Our customers urged us to consider the ramifications of producing two versions of the Eclipse 500 with different levels of performance.

We listened to your concerns, and they were valid. In late 2006, we decided to retrofit all customer aircraft with all of the performance improvement modifications, thus ensuring that all customer Eclipse 500s will be the same with equal performance.

After making these decisions and announcements, we put our noses to the grindstone and started designing and flight testing our performance enhancements. We are happy to tell you that a number of recent Performance guarantee demonstrations have shown our ability to achieve our performance numbers of a max speed of 370 knots and a range of 1,125 nm with a slight margin.

Maximum Cruise Speed Demonstration

On Wednesday January 24th, N505EA completed a test flight to verify maximum cruise speed after the implementation of the performance modifications described above.

Three conditions were demonstrated at altitudes of 33,000, 32,000 and 31,000 feet. Autopilot altitude and heading hold were engaged for each test point, with engines set at Maximum Continuous Thrust (MCT). Each condition was maintained for 3 minutes, or until a stable airspeed was observed.

Demonstrated Speeds (averaged over test point):

Speed (KTAS) Temperature Weight (pounds) Altitude (feet)
371 ISA -5 5,406 33,003
371 ISA -7 5,344 32,002
372 ISA -7 5,290 30,999

Please note that the current guarantee is for a maximum speed of 370 knots at ISA and 4,950 pounds. When the above data are normalized, we meet our maximum cruise speed guarantee.

Actual Range Demonstration

On Thursday January 25th, we conducted a nonstop flight from Albuquerque, NM to Gainesville, FL. The flight originated from the Albuquerque International Sunport (KABQ), with a single continuous climb to 41,000 feet. N505EA then proceeded on a nearly direct course to Tallahassee (KTLH), shot a missed approach, climbed to 25,000 feet, flew direct to Gainesville Regional Airport (KGNV) at economy cruise setting, descended to 5,000 feet, held for 5 minutes, and ended with an approach and landing at Gainesville. This flight was a total distance of 1,333nm and we landed with 205 pounds of fuel remaining.

GPS flight track of range demonstration flight.

The chart above shows the specific range for this long-range trip. This test indicates that your Eclipse 500 is likely to have a specific range of just over 1 nm per pound of fuel when cruising at the Long Range Cruise (LRC) power settings.

These speed and range demonstrations validate the Performance Improvement Plan modifications, and indicate that the production Eclipse 500 will exceed the committed performance as follows:

Performance Commitment Demonstrated

Speed 370 knots TAS 372 knots TAS
NBAA Range (100 nm alt) 1,125 nm 1,156 nm

An important fact to remember is that although we have exceeded our targeted performance guarantees, we are not changing the guarantees. You will most likely see better then "book" performance in your aircraft due to the better then forecasted improvements. But we are not guaranteeing the increased performance.

We are proud of the entire engineering and support teams who have worked diligently to achieve this milestone.

We trust you will find this information of interest and helpful in following the development and delivery of your Eclipse 500.

Ken McNamara and the Eclipse Team

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Guest Editorial - Financial Survival

Jetfumes offered some comments this morning which happen to parallel a subject I was thinking about for the next post. He makes some good points, some we've heard before, some a re-hash.

After looking at the scorecard, one delivered in 2006, a barren month of January, jetfumes comments are timely:

Let me think out loud about one specific issue: Is Eclipse financially viable?

They have spent three times more than Cessna did on the development of the Mustang - a real shame.

And what is the operating margin at the current selling price?

Why do they keep pretending to deliver 500 A/C this year, while Pratt has no plans to produce anywhere near 1000 610's this year?

The only reason I can see is that suppliers contracts are priced with production volumes. If they say now that they will really deliver 200 A/C in 2007 (which in itself would be an achievement), I'm quite sure they will owe their suppliers a couple hundred thousands more per shipset. In other words, they lose money on each aircraft!

Probably with 500 deliveries/year already. Definitely with 200.

Eventually they will have to come clean financially with their suppliers. Just look at their DOC comparison chart. It's clear that Eclipse has become master at fuzzy accounting.

The only financial way out for Eclipse is a larger 600 (three more feet cabin length, couple more inches wider, with a lavatory!, and bigger wing with more fuel, etc.) all those things adding only $50,000 to $75,000 to the manufacturing cost, retail it at $2.2M, ask all 500 deposit holders to upgrade and refund those who won't.

Since it was incredibly stupid not to do the 600 when they switched from the EJ22 to the PW610, one has to wonder if Eclipse will make the right decisions now, and if it is not too late anyway.

I also cringe whenever I read that Eclipse "invented" the VLJ.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

If it wasn't for Williams, there wouldn't be any VLJ today.

The concept of the 500 was a followup to the V-Jet II, the brainchild of Sam Williams.

The concept of what became the Mustang (which started out as a turboprop project by the way) was nicely laid out by Century Jet. And the Century Jet was a result of the development of the FJ33, the engine that really kick started the VLJ market.

Century Jet wasn't successful because Bill N. was scary when let loose in front of investors, but that's another story.

Anyway, my question is: is Eclipse doing the right thing now?

The 500 is a financial dead end and we don't want an Enron in our industry.