Upgrade Schedule and Progress
Jricciardelli Posted: 06 January 2008
As promised earlier this week, I want to give you an update on our progress and plans for the ETT and Avio upgrades.
As Mike Press reported (and thanks for the pictures), the first aircraft is undergoing the Validation/Verification of the ETT performance mods at Gainesville. We began the mods during the week between Christmas and New Years after several of the mechanics from Gainesville return from ABQ… Since mid-September, we have been sending teams of mechanics from GNV to ABQ to help the modification of development and production aircraft to include installation of Avio, ETT mods, new wing de-ice boots and other minor upgrades. I know some of you think that the planning and execution of these upgrades should be quite simple the most important part is the training of the mechanics and we have taken advantage of every situation possible.
So the first aircraft undergoes a Val/Ver using a draft service bulletin that validates the bill of material (BOM) as well as the removal/installation instructions. Once complete, the SB is then released. The first mods (Val/Ver) will likely take 28 days due to special attention and correction of any issues. The first aircraft after the SB is released will take 21 days and we anticipate the cycle time can be reduced to 18 days after each bay has done 3 upgrades.
Aircraft 028 ETT mods will therefore be complete by January 21st. The Avio mods will begin on January 14th and should likely be done by February 8th… This allows for time to release the SB and start upgrades on customer aircraft on February 18th. The material is being gathered and the draft SB is available.
All bays will not open simultaneously but will be staggered during the first month to accomodate for learning curve, additional mechanics and training. we anticipate having a minimum of 6 service bays dedicated to upgrades with two in Albany (February 18th/25th) and one in Van Nuys in early April… West Coast owners may want to schedule aircraft into that facility when available which contributes to my statements below....
So now to answer the question on everyone’s minds.... when will my aircraft be upgrades?
We will dedicate 50% of our initial capacity to non-US aircraft as these aircraft can not be used by the owners as currently configured. Although I know that US based aircraft want the upgrades as soon as possible, I believe that addressing non-US aircraft with 50% of my capacity is a very fair compromise until the 12 non-US aircraft are complete (again depending upon owner scheduling).
For US based aircraft we will be going sequentially from SN 001 to SN 124. Some aircraft between 105 - 124 have NG) so there is a total of 110 aircraft upgrades required.
At the time of upgrade, we will incorporate any necessary configuration changes for FIKI (new boots, ect) at the same time. We also hope to be able to offer any options that you may want to have added but this will be subject to being able to release additional service bulletins.
As in the case of the Pitot upgrade from last August, we will contact the first several owners to try and schedule them in and in the case that they can not bring the aircraft to the service center at the available slot, that slot will be offered to the next serial number. Some may decline due to operations and scheduling, some may opt to wait for Van Nuys, some may wait until other options are available… In any case, we will try to accommodate everyone’s specific needs.
We anticipate calling owners beginning on January 17th to start scheduling upgrades for February 18th. So you can expect about 10 owners per month to be contacted and we do this weekly or if schedules change and opening exist.
Our goal is to complete all modifications within ONE YEAR of the release of the validated service bulletin and should get through about 75% of the aircraft this year… Of course, this schedule is dependent on the validation of the SB, measurement of actual versus forecasted times and an anticipated learning curve.
Please keep in mind the sequential order we will adhere to and I ask you to not call to try and move up in order… Customer Care will be in contact with you at the appropriate time.
Either way I try to organize the schedule will result in 50% of you being disappointed (if I went front to back or back to front) so I believe the sequential order from lowest to highest serial number provides the soundest strategy and addresses those that have had the aircraft the longest without the Avio NG capabilities.
I hope that this answers your questions for now and provides the latest information, program plan and strategy from Eclipse relative to the upgrades.
I am attempting to provide this type of information on a more regular basis but keep in mind I do not plan on answering any threads that start due to these postings. This information is intended to answer your questions but I can not be drawn into a time consuming debate…
Have a good night and see you in ABQ (or in one of my travels)
Thanks to interested eclipse follower for sharing this message sent today to the Eclipse owners and owners-in-waiting. Here are some of their responses:
"Why does Eclipse continue to issue such useless, inane press releases? It is wonderful that they are pursuing good, established maintenance procedures. In the mean time my million dollar aircraft is grounded in Michigan under the constant coverage of a Great Lakes Airmet for icing.
Where is the press release for FIKI?
When do I get my functioning Avio NG?
Until then, I think management should realize that is inflamatory to make these silly announcements until they have something important to say. Concentrate on a safe aircraft that will do what you say it will do rather than how the mechanics will have nice pictures to go along with their work instructions.Right now, my aircraft is neither safe, nor functional."
"I hesitate to suggest this, and sincerely hope this is dead wrong, but it may get worse before it gets better.
There is an unsubstantiated rumor, heard directly from employees in Albuquerque, that Eclipse is getting FIKI certification only for Avio NG aircraft.
Even if they have 6 NG production lines across the two states (and how many months will it take to get those all in place), at 21 days per plane (which they have said is their goal) that’s 6 every 3 weeks; for 115 planes (estimate of non-NG production) it would then take 57 weeks to complete the retrofit.
Of course this clock doesn’t even start until they have the process developed and certified, and per Mike Press posts, they are only working on the ETT/aero mod changes on the first plane now. Remember, they get no revenue from retrofits (since we’ve all paid in full) and the more lines they staff, the higher the expense. So one could reasonably wonder what their level of motivation, and funding, will be to staff and complete the retrofits quickly??
If this rumor was true, and this schedule is close, there will be non-FIKI, limited avionics planes flying around throughout NEXT winter, even if NG is upgraded ! "
"So this means there will be significant numbers of Eclipse 500 Jet aircraft flying handicapped, with no FIKI capability well into, if not throughout, NEXT winter, 2008/2009. And that’s “his goal,” when have they EVER met a single goal or promise. Customers who have paid in full, who previously were given a November 2007 date for FIKI, in writing, in a contract. I think it is safe to say this is an unprecedented failure in modern aviation times, even with other recent startup manufacturers such as Cirrus, Columbia, Diamond and Galaxy.
This company continues to underwhelm in terms of customer experience. Long term, poor customer service, low satisfaction, and high executive and employee turnover does not bode well for Eclipse becoming a successful, lasting corporation.
Would an alternative be to spool up qualified outside contract companies to ramp up the work more quickly? Or bring more lines up at the three very large service centers?
Oops, we have paid in full, we have just a promise for eventual upgrades with no dates in writing, and outside assistance means more money out from Eclipse- we have no leverage and we are screwed. Oh well we are just the customers.
Post NG position holders beware, your time will come, you will face this treatment as well, just on another issue.
I’m sure prospective customers will be interested as they see how Eclipse treats existing customers when they decide where to bring their money. I can see the headlines now, Eclipse Jets to fly through two winters with no FIKI, Eclipse misses it’s contractually promised FIKI upgrade delivery dates by over 12 months, 100 customers who paid >$1 million for planes delivered two years late wait one full additional year for what they were promised, etc. etc. etc."