Sunday, July 29, 2007
Happy Days Are Here Again...
The skies above are blue again...
Vern's got coins in his jeans again...
Happy Days Are Here Again!
Just as the emerging crocus in our yards become the harbinger of spring, the new billboard looking for warm bodies up on the West side of Wichita tells us Vern is once more flush with cash.
During the past month or so, various sources have reported a new financing component, all in the $400m range. Don't know if that is a separate issue or if the company is stretching the truth again. But there has been a recent SEC filing. A full copy of the Form D document is available at http://www.eclipsecritic.net/.
The key numbers are on pages 5-6:
- Sold $272m out of $320m
- Netted $260m after fees
- Paid off $50m of debt
- Put $210m in working capital.
$210m won't get this company very far considering their current burn rate and the task ahead:
- Completing the long certification "to do list" including Avio NG, FIKI, "B" mods, fatigue testing, and who knows what other mod programs are on the docket to be fixed since the company is still looking for a number of engineers in a wide variety of disciplines.
- For some time to come, delivering airplanes that will cost far more to build than what will be collected on delivery. This is especially true for those in waiting who have completed their 60% down payment obligations. Delivering these airplanes will not generate much cash.
- The mod cost associated with updating to Avio NG (100 plus units)
- The mod cost for the "B" mod updates (38 units).
- The removal and replacement of the Aerazur di-ice systems (total units affected unknown).
- Bringing new service centers on line
- Buying simulators and establishing a training facility.
The $210m won't last near as long as the $225m that was raised last year at this time when Eclipse concluded a $225m pre-IPO convertible debt funding package from UBS. In addition, the $225m was supplemented by the 60% advance payments extorted out of - was it dozens or hundreds who were promised delivery in 2007?
One has to wonder where the next financing component will come from. Unlike previous recruiting ads in the Wichita paper, the latest a couple of weeks ago did not mention stock options.
Special thanks to the reader who forwarded the Form D filing and interpretation of the key elements on pages 5-6.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
The year of the One Engine Jet.
Single engine turbo-props have been around for years; most offering impressive performance numbers, good economy and good safety records. And in spite of the fact most turbo-props can carry bigger loads out of shorter runways and with greater range, they are still prop driven and just don't have the panache that comes with owning a "jet".
Piper, Cirrus, Epic, Diamond and Eclipse all have new SEJ's in various stages of development and all were being promoted at Oshkosh. What accounts for the emergence of the one-holers? The answer is quite simple, economics.
In the early days of commercial jet aviation, 4-engine jets such as the 707, 720, DC-8, and 880 reigned supreme. Then along came the 3-holers, the 727, DC-10 and 1011 all of which offered better economy and replaced their predecessors for many routes. Eventually, nearly all of these aircraft were sent to the bone-yard by more economic twin engine transports, the 737, 757, 767, 777 and now the 787.
Here are some reasons why fewer is better:
Ceteris paribis - one large engine producing twice the thrust as a small engine will cost less than a pair...pylons/nacelles for a big engine along with systems for one large engine will cost less than the same for two half-size engines.
Again ceteris paribus - bigger engines have better fuel specifics than smaller engines and the cost to overhaul one big engine is far less than the cost to overhaul two engines half the size.
Likewise, one large engine will weigh less than two half-size engines.
Yet nothing is free, and the price is safety; fly a single engine airplane with an engine out and you better figure out where you are going to land - quick. But obviously a significant number of buyers discount the risk and willingly fly everyday in pistons and turboprop singles, so why not a SEJ? At least five companies are betting there is a market.
What is interesting in the five offerings is the manner in which the designers have chosen to deal with the engine installation. While the thrust needs to be on centerline, the choice is pretty much limited to on top of the tailcone or buried in the tailcone.
Each configuration has its advantages and disadvantages. Bury it in the fuselage, then worry about ducting and getting sufficient airflow. Mount it on top of the tailcone, then deal with the pitch down moment with the application of thrust, and manipulating the tail feathers so that they are not in the jet wash. There is no perfect solution.
Piper's configuration elicits the most questions. Not only does it have the highest thrust line, it is going to take some pretty heavy and expensive machined beams to carry the vertical tail loads around the engine. The situation will repeat itself at the attachment of the stub vertical tail to the fuselage since this will also be carrying engine loads into the fuselage. Though the arrangement looks good, my view is they are paying an unnecessary aerodynamic and weight penalty with the engine located at the present location.
Epic and Diamond have elected to bury the engine in fuselage. This gives them the option of doing whatever they want with the horizontal/vertical tail configuration. Their challenge, ducting the inlet air.
Both Cirrus and Eclipse decided to locate the engine on top of the tailcone. The Cirrus engine/nacelle combination is semi-buried in the fuselage and more conformal to the fuselage contours. Cirrus will also need to provide ducting for the inlet air.
Eclipse opted for a nacelle on a pylon. To keep the thrust line low, they severely necked down the fuselage aft of the cabin section. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what Eclipse came up with IMHO is not real pretty.
The high centerline thrust on both the Eclipse and Cirrus designs drives the need for a V-tail. In theory, a V-tail can result in less drag and less weight than that of a conventional tail. In the case of the Eclipse, the tail surfaces are quite large given the short coupling of the wing to tail location. There is nothing wrong with this compromise...better too large than too small.
Here is another area to watch with the single engine jets, a couple of quirks in the FAR's. Unless the FAA changes the rules, single engine airplanes need to stall at 61 kts (or less) or face higher crash worthiness standards for the seats (FAR 23.49, FAR 23.565(d)). Also, single engine airplanes are required to be tested for spin recovery (FAR 23.221).
A clinical definition of a non-recoverable spin is when the inertia forces in a spin can not be overcome by aerodynamic recovery forces. With full fuel in the wings, all of these designs will develop quite a bit of inertia in a spin and it is problematic whether any could recover using conventional aero controls. While I am not 100% sure, I seem to recall that the FAA concluded that in the case of Cirrus, the ballistic parachute provided an equivalent level of safety in the event of a spin which eliminated the spin testing requirements.
So perhaps all of these designs may end up with parachutes.
On a more general view of Oshkosh 2007, attendance appeared to be down and a pilot friend remarked he did not think there were near as many airplanes on the infield as previous years. I suspect high fuel prices are beginning to bite which tends to make the case for a single engine jet.
Dear Eclipse Team,
Greetings from Oshkosh! Today, Eclipse will announce some very exciting news during the opening day of AirVenture 2007. I want to take the opportunity to share this news with all of you before the formal announcement is made to the world.
At 7:30 a.m. (CDT) this morning, Eclipse will unveil our concept of a single engine jet aircraft. The unveiling will be in front of a crowd of nearly 150 worldwide members of the aviation press. This aircraft, appropriately named the Eclipse Concept Jet (ECJ), represents a design that has been built over the past six months through a small network of Eclipse partner companies.
The ECJ project consists of two elements: an actual flying ECJ aircraft, as well as an interior mockup. The 4-seat ECJ incorporates a pod-mounted Pratt & Whitney Canada turbofan engine with a V-Tail design, and is projected to offer a maximum speed of 345 knots, a service ceiling of 41,000 ft, and a range of 1,250 nm. Its unmistakable orange painted empennage clearly identifies this as an airplane belonging to Eclipse.
I want each and every one of you to understand that the ECJ is NOT a new product announcement for the company. At this time, there are no plans to make the ECJ a production aircraft. The ECJ is a concept aircraft that Eclipse will use as a marketing exercise to conduct extensive research on the market size and opportunity for a single-engine VLJ. Eclipse is not taking orders on the ECJ – it is not for sale. Eclipse will use this aircraft solely for the purposes of market research.
This is not unlike the practice of an automobile company introducing concept cars at major auto shows. These concepts allow companies to present new ideas and designs to glean first hand market reactions. In fact, less than 20% of concept cars introduced by major automotive companies in the last five years have evolved into a true product offering. Those that have been produced were monumental in selling a large amount of vehicles and building a brand.
The unveiling of the Eclipse Concept Jet will be a highly-charged, energizing event. The ceremony begins with COO Peg Billson unveiling a full scale interior mockup of the ECJ inside the Eclipse exhibit. After Peg continues to speak for a few minutes, the actual flying ECJ will taxi from a private, discrete hangar directly to the Eclipse booth. This will be a great surprise to the aviation community. I was at the controls of the ECJ on Sunday when landing at Oshkosh, along with test pilot Terry Tomeny.
This Oshkosh unveiling ceremony will be videotaped so that all of you can share in the unique experience. You will be receiving an additional email with a link to access this video within the next 24-48 hours.
It is also very important for each of you to understand that the ECJ was designed and built to provide the absolute minimum amount of disruption to the work on the Eclipse 500. The ECJ does not affect our unwavering commitment to deliver our customers the Eclipse 500 we have promised them. Our number one priority as a company is finishing the spec, producing airplanes on schedule, and delivering the ownership experience on the Eclipse 500! We kept that focus and involved only a very few Eclipse employees in the ECJ project. Eclipse worked directly with a select group of partner companies to execute this project. No Eclipse employees were solely dedicated to this project on a full-time basis.
As a company, Eclipse continuously innovates and invests in technologies that provide us with a sustained competitive advantage. Ultimately, this enables us to achieve our goal of providing tremendous increases in value for our products. This is demonstrated in the success of the Eclipse 500, PhostrEx, Avio NG, and much more. In fact, the ECJ was possible due to the shared commonality of each of these elements. It is in our blood to take calculated risks, and inject disruptive change into the marketplace. The ECJ is yet another example of the great capability inherent in our culture.
Information and images of the ECJ can be viewed at a newly launched website: http://www.eclipseconceptjet.com/.
I look forward to sharing more information with you in the coming days. Until then – back to work!
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Lest these points get buried away in the comment section that gets read about as often as last week's newspaper, let us review the conclusions offered by mouse a few weeks ago on the engine change:
Eclipse claimed the 2003 engine change was due to the failure of Williams to produce a reliable engine that would meet the original specifications.
According to mouse, even if the engine had delivered the performance as specified, the empty weight of the airplane had grown to the point where the engine/airframe combination was no longer viable.
The discussion as to who designed the FADEC and whether this was the fault of the engine's reliability or lack of reliability, or whether in time, Williams could have worked the bugs out is irrelevant. The fundamental problem was not with the engine but the airframe.
When Vern was pointing his accusatory finger at Williams for his 2003 setback, it might have been more honest for him to have been standing in front of a mirror when he did the pointing.
Unfortunately, the Williams engine was the key to Eclipse business plan. The low cost, fuel sipping engines would enable for Eclipse to deliver low cost airplanes in high volumes enabling air taxi operators to fly with low per mile rates which in turn would generate new business for the air taxi market.
While this paper engine/airframe combination sparked an avalanche of orders for this too good to be true proposition, the reality of what is being produced in ABQ does not nearly meet the expectations the company laid out at the beginning of the program.
Take for instance the Oliver Masefield' October 2002 statements to Aviation Week:
"The whole airplane is a point design."
"Many aircraft get into an upward weight spiral during development but the Eclipse 500 is different."
"...the E22 engine launched the Eclipse on a downward weight spiral, where less weight led to less wing area and less weight again."
Sorry Oliver, you don't have the E22 engine, you don't have a "point design" and you are not in a "downward weight spiral." In fact you have an airframe designed for a 4,700 lb takeoff weight that is now pushing 6,000 lbs.
You don't get something for nothing. Mike Press reported his tire change at 100 hours which he thought might represent 140 landings counting the touch-and-goes during training. That's of course if you believe a T & G grinds off as much rubber as a full stop landing.
Today's airplane will be touching down about 10 knots faster than what Oliver designed pre-2003 and at weights around 1,000 lbs heavier. The kinetic energy the tires and brakes must absorb goes up with the square of the velocity; weight is a linear function. Just putting some rough numbers into a handheld calculator indicates about 35% more landing energy into today's configuration than Oliver's pre-2003 wet dream.
The faithful may argue, Oliver had margins in the equipment to allow for growth. That is not what he told Av Week in 2002 and had the reporter asked if 100+ landings would be acceptable for the airplane, I am quite sure Oliver would have answered with a resounding "No!"
And it does not matter if JetComplete is in the equation or not, the customers will be picking up the tab for the brakes and tires plus suffer the inconvenience of dealing with the service requirements at these premature intervals.
Off in the morning to OshKosh B'Gosh...see you all at the Eclipse tent...I will be easy to spot...the one in the sun glasses.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
ECLIPSE AVIATION FIRES ECLIPSE AVIATION CRITIC
July 15, 2007
Albuquerque, NM – Vern Raeburn, President & CEO, announced today that his company’s ties with Eclipse Aviation Critic had been severed. “This outfit joins a long line of those who have failed to meet our company’s high standards,” said Vern gravely. “First it was Williams with the engines, then Avidyne with avionics, then United for training,” he sighed, “And now we have to part ways with Eclipse Aviation Critic.”
“We’ve given them every chance that we could, but they just can’t get ‘er done. The quality of criticism on the web log has declined by any reasonable standard. We think there is a failure in the blog’s leadership to set a good example. The debate has degenerated to the point that they are questioning whether I could fly our Eclipse 500 most of the way across the country,” added Raeburn. “Remember the Allies used gliders at Normandy and the Germans invaded Crete with them. It’s real quiet for the last hundred miles in our jet and so far there’s been no extra paperwork on landing.”
“But I digress,” said Vern. “Of course, we are open to consistently good introspection, and even criticism of our company and product. We are replacing Eclipse Aviation Critic with a much improved blog. It will be called Eclipse Aviation Critic XP, for eXtra Performance. We wanted to use NG for New Generation, but that was taken.”
“The new web site will offer better functionality and performance thanks to proprietary Eclipse Aviation software and hardware. We borrowed leading edge technology from the Eclipse cockpit suite and will be able to display Jeppesen enroute and terminal charts on the web site. We expect to be online in August and are accepting modest deposits. Early adopters will get reduced monthly pricing for access. I will personally edit each entry to assure the high standards you have come to expect from Eclipse Aviation.”
The tulip mania peaked in the Netherlands during the 1630s. The black tulip was the most sought after, until found to be biologically impossible.
Monday, July 09, 2007
Bill e. Goat's July Update
Okay, here's my stab at translating Vern's latest weasel-o-gram into English...
Vern: "Since our first aircraft delivery on December 31, 2006, our primary objective has been a ramp-up to our production goals".
Goat: Vern, Vern, Vern- your primary objective since Jan 01, 2006 has been to ramp-up production. Whatever bogus paperwork (Osh Kosh 2006 “Provisional” TC) you had to do generate to “legitimize” it and lock in deposits. MAYBE the primary objective should have been/still be, to DESIGN the airplane, THEN ramp up production.
Vern: "In the second quarter we certified 26 aircraft, bringing our total for the first half of the year to 30 aircraft...you will see that we have only reported 17 aircraft for the second quarter...GAMA uses as a measurement point the actual sale of the aircraft, not the certification of the individual aircraft".
Goat: Okay Vern, I give up. With "2600+" "orders" on the "books", you mean you've “sold” 17 out of the 26??? Can someone P-L-E-A-S-E explain this one to me? (I flinch, because I'm afraid someone WILL have a truth-bending, I mean mind-bending, explanation).
Vern: "In fact, we expect to deliver over 20 aircraft during July".
Goat: Boy, you gotta really turn the anti-weasel filter to max to “ferret” out the truth here. Consider: Someone listening to all that mumbo jumbo about what a delivery is, would have given up, and “bit” on the concluding sentence and though “Wow- they're going to build 20 airplanes in July”. WRONG. Weasel-speak, for: We have 26-17 = 9 sitting around (?for what reason?) from 2007Q2, and we're going to "finish" "building" / "certifying" / "selling" / "delivering" 11 more just for the "month" of July. Okay, we'll "see". (I still don't get it- “not sold” yet??? What's this, the nutty “bidding” scheme in action- whens the auction over?)
Vern: "We will continue to notify customers of their expected delivery dates six months prior to delivery".
Goat: We'll lie to you to lock in your deposit with some B.S. proclamation that we'll build your airplane six months from now.
Vern: "...and update all customers on deliveries by quarter. The delivery numbers outlined in this quarterly report will also be provided to GAMA...but I wanted you - our loyal customers - to see them first".
Goat: We want you to hear the bad news first from us, before you hear it from the press.
Vern: "We completed certification flight testing on the improvements to the pitot/AOA system earlier this week. The FAA testing was conducted in a humid/rainy environment in actual Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) and cold soaking at altitude".
Goat: WOW. What a stroke of genius. Who could have anticipated an airplane would EVER fly in a rainy environment. OR, amazingly, EVER fly in ACTUAL IMC conditions? Or EVEN get cold soaked at altitude. Revolutionary! Visionary!!Stupendous!!!
Vern: "The Eclipse 500 was one of the most tested aircraft to be certified in the last 20 years".
Goat: The Eclipse 500 has had the most screwed up development and test program in the last 20 years.
Vern: "There was extensive and thorough FAA involvement including approval of the test plans for the airdata/pitot/AOA system that resulted in an unrestricted Type Certification of the aircraft".
Goat: You mean the FAA won't just let you think up fun things to go do on a whim? You mean, the FAA looks at- what do you call them- “test plans”???Stupendous!Verntastic!! (Oh, maybe they are referring to the test plans that EVERY manufacturer has to submit?).
Vern: "Yet this problem was caused by fairly unique meteorological conditions that went undetected even though we did numerous tests in Texas, Florida and even the Climate Test Chamber at Eglin Air Force Base".
Goat: Okay Vern, you've been keeping us in the dark about the marvelous short field capability of the E-500. Just how fast do you fly it in the Test Chamber- that must be some BIG hangar. Nice of you to mention Texas and Florida, but somehow, you don't mention the word "rain"? Just a careless omission, I'm sure.(Hmmm, or MAYBE it's because somebody KNEW it WOULD NOT WORK in the rain? Oh, just a silly passing thought. "Fairly unique meteorological conditions". Ah, that's it. Just as I thought. That darn pixie dust again. Darn pixies).
Vern: "Perhaps the fact that we live and work in a high desert environment contributed to the problem".
Goat: Well, maybe the thin air at that “high altitude” has something to do with the overall progress so far. Wonder if they've tested the baro altitude for below 5000 ft. I'm sure they have. Ah, in Texas and Florida. Yeah, Every thing's okay. Don't worry.
Vern: "So the fact that the problem went undetected is not the lesson, but how we as a company have responded to the problem is".
Goat: Okay, I don't think this one can be translated into English. Anyone want to try? My best stab at it linguistically: “How we as a company responded to the problem is the lesson. But the lesson is NOT detecting or solving undetected problems”. Interesting, and revolutionary. Again.
Vern: "But virtually all newly certified aircraft have had problems inherent in the design that were not discovered in the certification testing. How the company supports those aircraft when the problem is discovered is the important issue".
Goat: Well, I guess you could just play dumb (wait a minute, you're already doing that), and let planes crash, and get sued, and have your TC revoked. Or, well, kind of support the resolution, like, the "Dinosaurs" do. Revolutionary, ...well, you know the rest. Again.
Vern: "We are still on track to cut the performance modifications into the production line at aircraft 39. In fact, aircraft 39 is currently in final assembly with all of the performance modifications incorporated".
Goat: Another linguistically intriguing mound of Vernisms. My best translation form Weasel to English:“We are still on track to do it. No, wait- in fact, we have already done it”.Vern, why not think big and go long: “In fact, we did it a long time ago”.
Vern: “Things are busy at Eclipse as we continue to accelerate our manufacturing ramp and gear up for another exciting EAA AirVenture show”
Goat: And what a spectacle, I mean show, it is...
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Now available at:
Which drew a sharp response from cj3 driver:
Vern has stooped to a new low. It is incomprehensible that the president of a 1.2 billion dollar company (spent) would refer to an accident of a competitor’s product in justifying the delays, mismanagement, missed performance, over budget and still in development aircraft.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Yep, It's True
Oshkosh, Wisconsin - July 23, 2007
Excitement is running high here at the opening day of EAA AirVenture 2007. As the curtain is pulled open at the Eclipse Aviation tent, this reporter has conducted an exclusive interview with Vern Raeburn, President and CEO.
“I am pleased to end months of speculation about Eclipse Aviation. As some have guessed, we are introducing a new jet here at Oshkosh. It was only natural that we build on the proven track record of the Eclipse 500 and add a successor to this remarkable aircraft.”
“We will achieve multiple goals with the new Eclipse 1000,” continued Raeburn. “As the world knows, we pioneered the Very Light Jet revolution. It was inevitable that we draw imitators and the ‘space’ is getting a little crowded. We saw an unmet need for an Ultra Light Jet and have moved to fill the void.”
“Our statisticians and engineers analyzed hundreds of thousands of general aviation flights conducted over several decades. We found that the average flight carried only 2.73 people. Having empty seats in an aircraft just adds structure, weight and drag. It is crazy that no one has done this before – the new Eclipse 1000 has exactly 2.73 seats. There is no drag penalty for unused seats. Less drag means more speed and range.”
Vern added, “We also analyzed the number of engines used in most general aviation flights. Without boring you with all the numbers, I’ll tell you that we rounded off the number of engines to one. My engineers told me it would be simpler if the number of engines were an integer.”
“I’ve saved the best for last,” said Raeburn, his voice rising. “Eclipse Aviation is fulfilling its social and moral commitment to the environment by introducing the first aircraft with a Carbon Footprint of zero. The aircraft is powered by anhydrous hydrazine and red fuming nitric acid. This fuel and oxidizer combination was perfected in the Titan missile half a century ago. Pull out your high school chemistry book and you won’t find a ‘C’ for carbon in either of these. There is another advantage – these chemicals are hypergolic, they ignite on contact. This allows us to eliminate the exciters and igniters found in other jet aircraft. Leave it to Eclipse to disrupt the dinosaurs.”
“In fact the only carbon emissions leaving the Eclipse 1000 come from the human occupants. We figure our outflow valve scrubbers will take care of most of it. The approved flight manual carries a limitation prohibiting consumption of enchiladas or burritos within six hours of departure.”
Vern turned his head as a commotion erupted at the back of the Eclipse tent, “I gotta go. Our guest of honor is here. Former Vice President Spotted Al Gore is going to unveil the little beast. He’s bringing his non-refundable deposit for an early serial number jet. We’re going to run the check right down to the bank. Gosh, I think he could take up all 2.73 seats by himself. Hey, but don’t print that; we’re off the record.”
The tulip mania peaked in the Netherlands during the 1630s. The black tulip was the most sought after, until found to be biologically impossible.
Tempus fugit...1,073 Saturday mornings ago (December 13, 1986 to be exact), I stood in front of my bathroom mirror, in my skivvies, brushing my teeth. We were living in our old house that was about a quarter of a mile off the center-line for the back-course to Wichita Mid-Continent's runway 19L, five miles to the South.
Suddenly, I began to hear this distinctive whine. It sounded a bit like a Beech Starship, but not quite. It sounded a bit like the Piaggio, but not quite. I went into our bedroom and out onto the second floor balcony, and there it was, a Cessna Citation powered by twin turbo-prop pusher propellers and chased by a second Citation in trail. No time for a camera, but WOW!
Since I was no longer working at Learjet and had my own company I was free to do as I pleased, so I picked up the phone and called Nunzio (Mike) Lupo, the aviation writer for the Wichita Eagle-Beacon.
"Mike," I said, "You are not going to believe what I seen." and described the event.
We talked a bit more and he said he would get back to me. Monday he called and asked if I would come down to his office and work with a staff artist. Tuesday the paper ran the story complete with the artist's sketch of the prototype.
At this point, the story gets murky. Some have said the project was being bootlegged and had not been approved by General Dynamics (Cessna's parent company at the time) which was unhappy with its existence and subsequently killed the program.
Timing was not good for the project, Cessna had previously announced the layoff of about 800 workers that was to occur before Christmas, just days away...merry xmas, here is your pink slip. Who knows, but to my knowledge, the airplane never flew again and the project was killed.
What does this have to do with Eclipse? Our fellow blogger airtaximan, has made several comments alluding to the development of a new 4-place single-engine jet by Eclipse. Further, he has questioned why the company would devote resources to a new project when the first one is a long ways from being completed, especially as it relates to any use of the 60% advance deposits made by the early position holders, towards the development of any new airplane.
Does airtaximan have credibility? This is a blog, anybody can say anything but ATM was the first and was persistent about the number of DayJet orders and options. Documents from the State of New Mexico and the Iacobucci interview by Karen DiPiazza from CharterX eventually backed ATM's assertion.
Would Eclipse have a 4-place under development? Mike McConnell made that suggestion at the EBACE gathering last May. Re-read his words on this blog's May 24th post.
Will Vern spring this big surprise at Oshkosh to divert attention from the numerous problems and failed goals that beset this troubled company? We don't have long to wait!
Note, caption on the Eagle-Beacon illustration reads:
Cessna' Secret Airplane
A modified Cessna Citation was spotted landing Saturday at Mid-Continent Airport. This is an artist's drawing of the plane, as described by the Wichita Pilot who saw it land. The plane had a Citation body with rear-facing turbine-powered-propeller engines and a T-shaped tail.
(Obviously, this is not quite correct because I did not see it land...)
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Freedomjamstart provided this firsthand account:
Well whoopee folks. Thank you so much dearest Vern for convincing the FAA to limit the Partial Eclipse to DAY VFR under 18 000'. The FAA was reluctant, but Vern saved the day...
[Mike leaps up, hoists Sherri in the air]
Gimme a V (for VFR)
Gimme a E (for Eclipse…)
[the crowd roars]
Gimme a R (for resale value)
Gimme a N (for New Mexico’s taxpayers)
What does it spell……VERN, VERN VERN…
[Mike's now jumping around in his Tutu with the Pom Poms waving…should have shaved his legs though...Crowd is going crazy, behind Vern on the wall the sales ticker just hit 3200 sold]
[Once Ken and the faithful calm back down, Mike gets serious...]
I have looked into Vern's soul, and here is a man I can trust!
I thought I wanted to take a business trip to close a deal, but as usual JetIncomplete helped me understand the error of my wilful ways.
Sherri was right, I didn’t really have an important meeting in ??, what I really needed was a good dose of Alabama Cholesterol.
Hiring soothsayers and palm readers is an incredible disruptive technology, another first for PartialEclipse (Reagan was in politics by then, not business, so he doesn't count).
This AD is really the greatest thing. I was always afraid of the landing flare of the Partial Eclipse with partially full tanks, but now I can be sure of nice empty tanks on all 300 mile legs. What a great design. What a lovely plane. I love Vern. Everything is fantastic.
The ramp guy was a lovely guy. He invited all his friends to see the plane.
[Sales ticker clicks over to 3208...Crowd roars]
This stop saved us quite a bit of money. Jet A was $3.15 a gallon, but the Ramp guy's Mum worked at Macdonalds, and sold me the used cooking oil for only .50c a gallon. Wow. that is great. I love my AD. I love my plane. I love Vern.
[Mike's pom poms are really flying here...Vern's on his Blackberry checking the IPO timer].
You can be sure that I will be getting Jet InComplete to plan all destinations based on fuel price. Hell, I can finally do that extended tour of the Middle East and Venezuela!
Another thing I really love to bits about flying my jet VFR is the view. I love gazing out the window at the ground going past. That's why I am soo happy that I get new windows every 300H's.
Vern is great.
Vern is wonderful!
We love Vern.
Having Window LRU's that never need cleaning is such a disruptive technology.
Vern is a genius.
I love Vern!
I love my Partial Eclipse.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
In the last post, flyger questioned the Vern's wisdom in choosing to develop and certify so many new aspects for the Eclipse. In a later comment he asked the question, "Why did they choose to make a proprietary avionics system, and why did they stick with Avidyne so long?"
Today in a follow up rumination from bill e. goat:
As I see more and more projects, poorly planned and executed, I become less giddy about technology for technology's sake, I believe that this was just another monumental abysmal NASA failure. (Like their other GAPS program: electronic ignition and fuel injection. Like Jap cars and motorcycles had 20 years earlier). Can you say international space station (1)(Wikipedia estimates $130B total; or just say 1000% overbudget, and 500% behind schedule, and much reduced capability from original plan. No wonder Vern is so chummy with the feds- kindred spirits).
In the same vein, thanks to Pubgrubber for the SATS link, I'll come back to that one later.
Anyway, the engine was paid for by some foggy combination of NASA, Williams, and Eclipse funds. As I understand it, NASA funded the program, uh, but never required a flight test. Because, the story goes, Eclipse agreed to use it. NASA considered that to fulfill the intent of the GAPS jet program- to create a light weight, low cost jet engine for the commercial market. Maybe they should have used a little extra thought, and stipulated that it had to be a working engine. Whatever, the feds bailed (after proclaiming victory), and figured Eclipse would pick up the tab for making the damn thing work.
The only thing “revolutionary” about the E-500 is the engine, and to screw the competition, Vern wanted exclusive rights to the engine. Williams wanted to sell thousands of engines, Vern promised a market, so Williams agreed to grant exclusive right to Eclipse, in exchange for Eclipse funding, and presumably an Eclipse guarantee to use Williams engines exclusively.
Why did Eclipse dump Williams? Good question. Did the Eclipse outgrow it- even before the first-first flight (2002)? I'm not sure- this is pretty screwy- like ALL of Eclipse's machinations. What IS sure, is the first-first flight was a stunt by Vern to lock in the customer deposits. Much like the second-first flight, in 2004, was a stunt to trigger some investor funding.
Why didn't Vern just let Williams have 18 months to develop the EJ-22??? Maybe he knew even if it did work, it couldn't keep up with the weight growth of the airframe. Williams isn't a bunch of yahoos- I think they could have got the engine to work, at least up to the original spec. As it is now, I believe Eclipse has some sort of lock on the rights to the engine, even if they never use it. Your tax dollars at work- thank you very much, NASA morons (2).
Regarding Avidyne, the blog had a lot of discussion a few months ago. I think the prevailing view was, Avidyne had been working for free on the Eclipse suite since 2003, in hopes of making some money on volume deliveries. My gut feel is after a couple of years of non-performance by Eclipse, they scaled back spending, expecting Eclipse to fold- for Avidyne, why throw good money after bad?
I suspect Vern was too cheap to foot the bill for truly adequate product development by Avidyne (and Williams)- just look at the idiotic, pathetically under scoped and unrealistic development and certification plan (and manufacturing, and QC efforts), and I think the customers will find, pathetically under scoped customer support facilities (witness, the idiotically mismanaged training program). Disruptive technology? Hey Vern, here's some disruptive input- get a clue! Better yet, Board of Directors: Get a clue- and a new CEO!
(I think the BOD is afraid of sacking Vern- that would make the enterprise look troubled, and they are desperately hoping he can sell some more snake oil to other gullible types, to keep fresh cash coming in).
(1) Credit where credit is due. The ISS does keep other countries “on board” with the USA, and that serves to stymie Russian and Chinese power projection. As a tool of foreign influence, it makes a valuable contribution, which is the ONLY thing the civilian pace program has ever really been anyway, idealistic pretensions aside, but a valuable tool. Could the money have been better spent? Well,...Just think how many 200 ft statues of Cheney holding a 6-pack and a shotgun we could have built).
(2) Let's go to the moon- or Mars! Just send money- don't worry, we'll tell you when to stop. Funny (not ha-ha funny) how NASA seems to have researchers for everything, astrophysics, life science, materials, aerodynamics. Everything EXCEPT finance. NASA ought to be called the agency of self-promotion.
Pretty cranky stuff for a beautiful Sunday- no more blogging for me today- just gets me aggravated to see Vern pissing away time and money while pandering for more money, while pawning deficient platforms, all the while he KNOWS they are deficient. If he had the guts, he'd just say “time out for 8 months- Eclipse is going to get this right the first time” (well, make that the second or third or fourth time). Reality, Honesty?- Not the cup of tea for P.T. Raburn.