Friday, September 28, 2007

NBAA Feedback

Troglodyte 's brief thoughts from NBAA:

Very busy show with lots of action but relatively little in the way of unexpected news or announcements in the light / very light jet segments.

The eclipse booth was large and, from what I could see, modestly attended. Eclipse employees that I spoke with seemed honest and forthcoming about the challenges that the company faces, the fact that they would need more money, and that producing airplanes was very hard. Gone was the “we can do anything and do it better than anyone else” attitude in evidence last year, replaced by we need to get the basic stuff working and produce a lot of airplanes. I did not see Vern. Agree with Progresso that the overall energy was low.

I asked if they had made any sales at the convention and, while the answer was appropriately obtuse, I think not. Cessna sold a number of Mustangs. Got different answers about when Avio NG would be ready including end of November, and January. FIKI maybe January, depending on if they find ice. Found out that they sacked another vendor who was doing the EFB, Seattle Avionics. (The rest of of you probably knew that already.)

Look of the Avio still best of any of the displays (much slicker than G1000), but good graphic design and good ideas are way different than reliable underlying functionality, wherein lies their challenge.

In past years there had been a reasonable amount of talk about Eclipse at the show -- good, bad, and indifferent. This year there seemed to be little or no discussion of Eclipse. Almost as though they were irrelevant or already gone.


Progresso noted:

The energy level at the e-pos stand was low, they still have the avio model of the w&b up showing the empty weight of the e-pos as 3550 lbs, and this is not being lost on the lookee lous that were milling around the stand when I was there. Their sales people were spending more time swapping war stories with each other than talking to the prospects, but then again I did not see many prospects.

What struck me about the VLJ's; Adam and e-pos are out of the race, this is the sentiment of the industry sources that I spoke to, the juggernaut at Cessna is unstoppable, and Embraer is gaining momentum. Honda is building steam and this is going to be the one to watch.

I went and had a look at the TBM booth, when I found it in the corner of the building, it was tiny, understated, but the information I received on their product was professionally offered, there is no hype, they would not engage in e-pos bashing, their high confidence level was palpable. I had the same sense at the PC-XII stand which was much bigger and nicer than the TBM stand.


airtaximan said,

"It was fun to watch Vern and Ed state emphatically that cabin size (small) was not an issue in all the market studies that they conducted, while Embraer, Diamond, Cessna ets als stated their research proved otherwise. Dayjet dismissed the concern for the e-500 cramped quarters as a "myth", and use the following logic as back up: "We asked folks in a focus group if they would pay MORE for a larger cabin... and they all said NO" - I wondered, given the price already at $3 or $4 per mile, why would anyone would say "yes" to paying MORE? (I wonder if Dayjet asked their focus group how they felt about perhaps paying "MORE" when they were advertising the price at $1-$3 per mile?

and...

In reality, a SINGLE ENGINE PROP plane with 4 places flown single pilot is perfectly acceptable to thousands of passengers already -doing the same mission as many of Dayjets planned routes.


From the 'Faithful' starting with ExEclipser,

So I was at NBAA. I wasn't wooed by the DJet. I was slightly more impressed with the PiperJet. CirrusJet could be cool, but looks too much like the ECJ, but with lost performance because of the S-Duct.

There is still NO TWIN JET that offers the value of the E500.Period.

OH - and I GOTTA throw this in... The sales staff at Eclipse is still as arrogant as ever. Amazing that any intelligent millionare would give any of these punk kids a nickel.


And Ken Meyer provided this from yesterday's Atlanta Journal Constitution:"

The little guys became the big show-stoppers this year at the 60th annual National Business Aviation Association convention in downtown Atlanta.

So-called VLJs--very light jets--and their itsy-bitsy cousins, the personal jets, drew huge crowds at the three-day event..."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Eclipse 'Greenest' Airplane?

NBAA

September 24, 2007

Russ Niles AVwebEditor-in-Chief

Eclipse Aviation says it's setting the standard for environmental impact with its Eclipse 500. CEO Vern Raburn told a news conference at the National Business Aviation Association convention that on (his) scale of 30, his company's jet is a perfect 30 in environmental impact. He said he invites comparisons on key indicators of environmental responsibility and he's confident the 500 will prevail. Raburn said that in terms of fuel consumption, emissions, hazardous materials and recyclability, the 500 is "already green." Raburn's also defended his product against critics.

Raburn said the process of creating the company and getting the airplane certified was more difficult than he planned and he accepted responsibility for the various setbacks. But he said the company continues to be the target of unfair criticism. He was particularly upset by the suggestion of a well-known writer in an influential magazine that Eclipse's single-engine concept jet might be safer at lower altitudes than its projected ceiling of 41,000 feet in case the engine fails and isn't able to supply air for pressurization.

"I'm tired of this kind of crap being thrown around by people who ought to know better," he said. In response to a question from a reporter, Raburn said that he no longer makes predictions about production schedules and timelines. "I'm always wrong," he said.

Thanks to niner zulu for keeping the blog informed as to what is being said.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Eclipse Aviation Turns To Automotive Industry For Inspiration

Sep 21, 2007

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

Albuquerque, N.M.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to airtaximan for the heads up on this one.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Eclipse in Perspective

From Jetaburner:

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Post Mortem

It may be premature, but the critics have already started the draft:

Bonanza Pilot wrote - I really wish they would have done a more conventional plane and kept the cost closer to the original estimate. Even if the performance had sunk to say 300 knots or even 280 knots...there would be many of us interested in a sub 1 million dollar jet with excellent fuel burn. I wish they would have ditched Avio..gone with Garmin and certified and shipped completed products a long time ago.

I think the attraction of the "new" single is the price..the only thing that was really revolutionary about the Eclipse was the price...and the reason the order book is suspect is that price increase. I really do believe that if they could have delivered this thing below 1 million they would have been able to meet their sales numbers.

Gunner added, BP-The original dream was a good one. For the same reasons as Ken, I liked it enough to put down a $130K deposit. I've learned a LOT from this Blog in the past year. The most important thing I've learned is that there's a reason why none of the respected manufacturers are offering a twin-jet for under a million (or even under $2 million):

The technology revolution that's fueling the VLJ craze simply has not materialized. Sure, we've seen some evolutionary changes in materials, powerplant size and efficiency; but the Million Dollar twin jet still awaits the technology to make it happen (or a company willing to slap together a disposable).

sparky drew further conclusions - Gunner and BP,well said. I think the hype is starting to die down to a low rumble with the other manufacturers feeling the pressure of the original claims and pricepoints.

It's easy to make a really small jet, It's hard to make a really small jet compete on every level the way eclipse it trying; speed, weight, range, utilization...they're all tied together and their are trade-offs that must be made. I think this is the one thing that the e-boys missed and it's been an extrememly expesive lesson.

Look for the VLJ craze to start to cool off in the next 8-12 months as people and companies come to realize this. I think once everything gets sorted out they're going to be great little aircraft for the owner/operator, but not much more. That could be a healthy little market if not for the 6+ companies competing for it. The ones to survive are going to be the ones that planned for this type of production.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Expectations

The reason this blog exists is because Eclipse has historically set very high expectations for themselves, but continues to miss the expectations they've set for themselves by wide margins.

AeroObserver says that while 46 deliveries isn't the fairy tale promised by Vern a couple years ago, it is pretty good. And he is right, it is pretty good.

But a couple of years ago, the official Eclipse plan was to deliver 354 aircraft by the end of Sept 2007. We are more than 300 aircraft behind the plan from two years ago. But let’s look at what Vern promised even a couple months ago. The last public statement from Vern on deliveries (around Oshkosh 2007) was that Eclipse would deliver over 200 aircraft in 2007. In order to meet that expectation, Eclipse would have to make 154 deliveries in the next three months. I'd be surprised if anyone at Eclipse or even AlexA (the most optimistic of the faithful) believe there is any chance of that happening.

Now let's look at the expectations Eclipse set for serial #46. In May of 2000, when Eclipse accepted deposits for the first 160 aircraft, serial #46 was scheduled for delivery sometime in Q2/Q3 of 2004 at $837,500.

In February 2003, Eclipse sent a letter resetting expectations after the Williams engine change. At that time, customers were informed that the price of the aircraft would go from $837,500 to $950,000 for Platinum depositors and to $1,175,000 for others.

The aircraft specifications as detailed in that letter included: 375 kts, 1,280nm range, 2,250 lb. useful load, 26 cubic ft baggage space, full IFR, FMS, Dual GPS, IFR enroute and approach certified, FIKI, 3 axis autopilot and autothrottle.

In September 2003, Eclipse sent a letter resetting expectations that the E500 would now be certified "in first quarter of 2006, with customer deliveries commencing immediately thereafter." Serial #46 was now expected to be delivered in Q3 2006.

In May of 2005, 15 months prior to delivery, the price of the aircraft was changed from $950,000 to $995,000 for platinum depositors and to $1,295,000 in June 2000 dollars for new customers.

In June of 2006, customers received another letter. At that time, Vern promised that Type Certification was only a few weeks away and that “the jet we deliver will be certified for day/night, IFR/VFR flight with the full envelope available. In addition, the aircraft will be certified for single pilot and RVSM operations.”

In that letter, Vern stated that some changes had been made to the production schedule but, “the maximum delivery change to any customer will be three months.” Max cruise was lowered to 370kts, stall speed raised to 69 kts, range lowered to 1,125nm. Useful load improved to 2,400 lbs, while the baggage space was reduced to 16 cubic ft.

Vern closed the letter by saying that “the Eclipse 500 still maintains its lead as the best value proposition in the history of general aviation.”

Mike McConnell sent a letter at the same time stating that the delivery schedule of the aircraft had changed to Q4 2006. Mike closed his letter by stating that “the Eclipse 500 is the best jet the world has ever seen”.

That letter included an Eclipse 500 Equipment Availability addendum that set expectations that aircraft delivered after Nov 2006 would be certified with full IFR, FMS, Dual GPS, IFR enroute and approach certified, FIKI, 3 axis autopilot, color radar, and Part 135 Package. Expectations were set that autothrottle, Int’l package, Stormscope, Skywatch, TAWS Class B and radar altimeter would all be retrofittable and available starting March of 2007.

Eclipse serial #46 was delivered in Sept 2007 without an FMS, without GPS, without FIKI, with a pitch hold autopilot, without a Part 135 package, without autothrottle, Stormscope, Skywatch, TAWS Class B, or radar altimeter.

The current expectations are that the pitot static fix will cut in around aircraft #65. That the windshield mods will cut in around serial #74. Avio NG is expected to cut in between serial #100 and serial #134, but will not have full functionality at initial deployment. Initial production effectivity of Avio NG is likely to be four to six months from now based that plan and on current production ramp rate.

Thanks to flightcenter for the recap.

Friday, September 14, 2007

E500 Reliability & Maintainability White Paper


ColdWetMackarelofReality served up some thoughts on an Eclipse 'White Paper' written in 2004 to address reliability and maintainability issues for the 500.

He described it as the 'Reliability and Maintainability Toilet Paper':

First paragraph in the document:

"This document is provided by Eclipse Aviation to provide information regarding the reliability and maintainability design of the Eclipse 500. The data and information in this publication do not constitute an offer and are subject to change without notice. Binding guarantees of the design of the aircraft are contained in the Eclipse 500 Deposit Agreement."This is not a specification document, and has no binding effect on the airplane itself - in short, it is a puff piece.

Also, note the consistent use of the present tense, including the availability of a Phased Inspection Program - in October of 2004, two years BEFORE the plane was certified (three years after it was supposed to be certified).

Careful review of the toilet paper shows the same low opinion of the customer and their experience\knowledge, it does this first by completely ignoring the existing practice (and for carriers 'requirement') of operators designing and certifying their own maintenance plans either by themselves (the airlines and larger 135 operators) or with help (CAMPS and similar) if their experience showed the Mx intervals to be too tight. Eclipse would have you believe that the dinosaurs and FAA are out to make Mx expensive when nothing could be further from the truth.

Eclipse again tries to fool the potentially unknowing customer into believing that light bulbs and prox switches are the major cost drivers for Mx - simply not so - the primary cost driver for Mx of TAA and highly integrated airliners and transport aircraft is inadequate troubleshooting resulting in 'swaptronics' (trading one box for another box when no fault can be found) due to dependencies and integrations that are either misunderstood or were never identified in the Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and System Safety Assessment (SSA) and Failure Hazard Analysis (FHA).

Next they suggest that MSG-3 principles were used in the design of the plane and the selection of the parts - a quick review of the track record of the flight test aircraft issues as well as the few we have already heard about from the customer fleet would seem to indicate that like many other things, Eclipse is using language that sounds good but which they do not understand. MSG-3 analysis is very specific and is intended for establishing the scheduled Mx and Servicing intervals at an appropriate level to minimize cost and damage from 'over' maintaining the aircraft, and to ensure that failures are accounted for. And contrary to Eclipse's contention, MSG-3 has 4 parts, not 2 - including Lightning and HIRF - sure hope that same commitment to excellence that gave us 150 hour windshields didn't miss that L\HIRF requirement.

They then go on to suggest that they are somehow unique in using LED's for lighting or brushless actuators - again, nothing could be further from the truth. LED lighting has been in aircraft use since before the Eclipse nightmare was a dream - Eclipse did not invent brushless actuators, and they are in use in a number of aircraft right now.

Once again we see the 'magic' baffle them with BS term LRU or Line Replaceable Unit - a term invented by military logisticians 3 or 4 decades ago. It is only impressive to the uninitiated.

The largest single piece in the toilet paper is dedicated to AVIO (TM) Total Aircraft Integration (TM) - guess they need to revise it to AVIO (TM) NfG (TM) Total Aircraft Schedule Failure (TM).

Eclipse boasts of having a Highly Accelerated Life Test (HALT) Lab - too bad that unlike a 'real' HALT lab operated by a 'real' OEM, the OEnM in Albuquerque HALT lab provided no temperature variation - like say departing PHX at 118 degrees with a direct climb to FL410 (hey it is my dream, anything is possible, just ask the Faithful) - coldsoak at altitude for 2 or 3 hours, then drop into ATL. Clearly not the same, and ignoring environmental effects when claiming HALT testing is laughable at best.

And what happened to those 'Beta' aircraft? Each of 3 was supposed to fly 1000 hours resulting in learning the initial problem areas BEFORE customer deliveries. The entire program, including the original Williams powered version, plus the abomination with the non-man rated cruise missile turbojets, AND the test fleet had less than 3000 hours when certifications was celebrated (prematurely).

And lastly, the LRU based Mx concept that the toilet paper suggests, will drive costs higher, not lower, due to the complexity of the integration. This company has not solved any of the major challenges before them and it is a safe bet that no number of software engineers (at the airplane NON-manufacturer) can possibly have envisioned all the different failure modes that HAL will come up with.

'Open the pod bay doors HAL'

'I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that, but you know I have the highest regard for you and the crew and am committed to the success of the mission.'

Thank you coldfish for the excellent analysis.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


A Recapitulation


From black tulip:


1. There was a natural appeal when the Eclipse was introduced. For many pilots, this was their only shot at owning a jet. Priced at less than the cost of a new Baron, the Eclipse was going to be the airplane for the masses. Value proposition entered our vocabulary.

2. Not only was the new jet going to be inexpensive, it promised performance previously not matched. It was going to use new concepts in propulsion, avionics and assembly methods to accomplish this. Disruptive technology entered our vocabulary.

3. Orders for the Eclipse poured in. This was every man's plane.

4. These factors drew comparison to aircraft manufacturers who’ve been in business for decades. If Eclipse could do it why hadn’t they? They were labeled dinosaurs by the chief mammal and founder of Eclipse.

5. Human nature played a role. There is a natural tendency to root for the underdog and hope he can beat the big guys at the game. America loves the charismatic entrepreneur. Charisma draws dedicated followers - those who want a new jet for an unheard-of-price. They rise to defend any slight against the company.

6. Another company emerges, aiming to provide air charter service at a price never before seen. Dayjet places a large ‘order’ for Eclipse aircraft, also being sold a very low price. Wags call this the two stone theory of business – if one stone will not float, tie another stone to it, and see if two will float.

7. Time passes and deadlines are missed. Bit by bit, disruptive technologies are found wanting and are replaced by conventional equipment. The aircraft, designed with little margin for error, comes in much heavier than anticipated. Performance becomes an issue and the design is modified even as deliveries begin.

8. Luckily this occurs during a period when capital is more plentiful that ever. Hundreds of millions are poured into the company. “We don’t have time to do it right, but we have time to do it over.”

9. Skeptics began to emerge. A faint call went out through cyberspace and drew them to this website. Most contributors are usually upbeat about aviation and not used to being critical of a field they love. Some, like this writer, have not previously posted on a blog.

10. And now the story plays out. An old-line manufacturer started their little jet later and finished sooner. Upstarts abound, some more credible than others. Eclipse struggles on to deliver the dream jet. Early adopters pray this will happen. Order one now and it costs you more than a Baron.

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.

Then jetaburner added:


Black Tulip-Well said. The real question at the end of the day is can they survive to become a profitable and sustainable aviation company that can provide the necessary support and services? If they do succeed, what will the demand be for a more expensive plane that doesn't meet the original performance numbers? Once the lack of demand is realized, what will the price be? The original forecast demand of 5k jets was based on a 1450nm jet that cost less than $1 million. If they produced that I would probably buy 2 of them!!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Secret Societies

In 1977, an expose in Esquire magazine outed
Skull and Bones, the exclusive but secretive Yale University organization whose 15 new members each year often go on to very powerful positions within the government and commerce.


The 175 year old organization can boast of some very powerful members, George Bush Sr., George Bush Jr., Henry Luce, William F. Buckley, Averell Harriman, John Kerry, Linden Blue (Spectrum Aeronautical) and others well connected but with lesser know names.

In the article written long before Al Gore invented the internet, blogs and instant messaging, Ron Rosenbaum wrote:

"In an age in which it seems that all that could possibly be concealed about anything and anybody has been revealed, those blank tombstone walls could be holding the last secrets left in America."

Not so fast Ron, we got a new one, it's called Eclipse Aviation. And the neat thing is you don't have to attend those stuffy Yale classes or have a pedigree on your birth certificate or have to lay in a coffin naked and confess to your sexual proclivities.



All you need is somewhere between $1.5 and $2m to purchase one of their airplanes. And while there's no intimate secret handshakes, they may have you sign a couple of documents, like perhaps a Proprietary Rights and Non-Disclosure Agreement or an agreement not to disclose any information from the on-board Data Storage Unit (records performance data). From that day forward you are a bonafide member of the New Age Royal Order of I Just Got Screwed But Didn't Get Kissed and promise not to tell anybody about anything related to the little jet that can't..

A disturbing way of business from a company whose founder and CEO challenged the aviation industry provide transparency for all new products. He is the ultimate flip-flopper.



The real question is, what is being hidden?

For more reading on the Bones, click here.

For more interesting reading on Eclipse Aviation, stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

DayJet's Locked and Loaded

BOCA RATON, Fla.


—September 5, 2007—

DayJet Corporation announced today that its subsidiary, DayJet Services, LLC, received authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use Eclipse 500™ very light jets (VLJs) in its operations. DayJet Services is the holder of an on-demand air carrier certificate from the FAA authorizing operations under Part 135 of the FAA’s regulations. The company is preparing to use its fleet of VLJs to launch the world’s first “Per-Seat, On-Demand” jet service.

“This milestone is the culmination of more than five years of dedicated work to develop the world’s first fully automated fleet operations system,” said Ed Iacobucci, DayJet president and CEO. “We are incredibly grateful to the dedicated FAA teams that have worked alongside DayJet to reach this critical moment in our company’s history.”In the coming weeks, DayJet will begin activating member accounts via its online reservation system, allowing members to book reservations and fly. The company will gradually increase its active member base as it expands its operations and its VLJ fleet. This measured approach enables DayJet to monitor the daily progress of operations and to ensure the highest levels of customer service and fleet availability.

About DayJet

DayJet is the pioneer of a new type of regional travel: “Per-Seat, On-Demand” jet service that is uniquely tailored to accommodate the flight time requested by each customer and priced at a modest premium to full-fare coach airfares. Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, DayJet has developed this new industry’s first real-time operations system. Combined with the speed and efficiency of Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ) aircraft, DayJet has created the next major advance in corporate productivity and regional economic development. For more information, visit www.dayjet.com.

DayJet’s “Per-Seat, On-Demand” business jet service is operated by DayJet Corporation’s wholly owned subsidiary, DayJet Services, LLC, an air carrier registered with the Department of Transportation and the holder of an on-demand air carrier certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorizing operations under Part 135 of the FAA’s regulations under Title 49, Subtitle VII, of the United States Code.

Thanks AlexA for the heads up on this one.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Amateur Hour

Subject: Your blog "eclipseaviationcritic"
Date: Sep 3, 2007 9:29 PM
Hi Mr. Blankenship,

I enjoyed reading your blog, and it is just incredible how this company acts.

I was ready to order one, and in spite of many warnings of industry professionals I decided to go ahead. What followed was a ridiculously arrogant response from this company that has nothing but failed their customers so far! Our attorneys reviewed their contract, and what they actually sent over was a "Deposit Agreement" in which only governed minor issues around a deposit.

This deposit agreement stated that the customer was obligated to sign a non negotiable "aircraft purchase agreement" which they were unable to supply. So they seriously expect people to commit to signing an agreement with that they do not know what it says.

It gets better. Of course we do things by the book, so we finally got a call back from these guys, just to be reminded that they would not even sign any deposit agreement UNTIL they receive a deposit. No check, a wire transfer which cannot be recalled - even if they decide not to sign the agreement.

There are a few companies that are entitled to be arrogant - just because they have incredible product. Eclipse certainly does not belong to them - they have nothing but failed customers and shareholders. The only two possible explanations for me are: Either they are run by Hollywood executives in their midlife crisis that try practicing the "Act as if" game (and are doing it badly), or they are in the process of building a database of the "World's Dumbest Rich People" - actually a business proposition that has some merit, compared to the business disaster they are in right now.

The first theory is supported by their entertaining efforts to do nice renderings of "Concept Jets" while unable to get their first product done. But if the second one seems to be true, I would love to get a hold of their customer lists to sell them perpetuum mobile, magic pyramids that cure cancer and a "teleporter" that I am developing right now ;-)

Good luck with your blog. I am now ordering a Phenom 100 ...