Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Washington, DC – February 7, 2008 –
The National Aeronautics Association (NAA) has announced the winner of the coveted Collier Trophy. Commissioned in 1911, the Collier Trophy has been viewed as the most prestigious award in aviation. It is presented to those who have made “the greatest achievement in aeronautics…during the preceding year.”
The award for 2007 is novel, in that it is given to an Internet web log or ‘blog’ entitled Eclipse Aviation Critic. NAA President Jonathan Gaffney said, “We are proud to present the Collier Trophy to Eclipse Aviation Critic in recognition of their correctly estimating the number of jets delivered by Eclipse Aviation. This was not an easy task and certainly represents a giant step forward in aeronautics.”
Eclipse Aviation Critic was founded in April, 2006 by an aviation observer in Wichita, Kansas. Trained as an aeronautical engineer, Stan Blankenship is skilled in aircraft development having worked with Bill Lear, legendary developer of the Learjet. Blankenship opened the blog by raising questions about extraordinary promises made by Eclipse Aviation founder, Vern Raburn, compared to the company’s subsequent performance. In less than two years, the blog has logged 200 posts and attracted 20,000 comments.
Specifically, Eclipse Aviation Critic correctly estimated that 99 Eclipse jets would be delivered by the company in calendar 2007. At the time the blog was founded Eclipse Aviation predicted 1,000 jets would be delivered in 2007. Trying to guess the true number of the little jets to roll off the production line has occupied some of the great minds in aviation.
This has not been without controversy. Over forty bloggers submitted their estimates early in the year and the mean value of all these estimates was 99. The number 99 was submitted individually by blogger Black Tulip. Asked to comment he stated, “I guess it just shows that on average I’m a mean guy… er… no it shows that at the mean, I’m an average guy. If we had more time I’d describe the highly complex scientific criteria I utilized to choose the number ninety-nine.”
The subject of deliveries is also controversial because several bloggers, led by Gadfly, insist the company has failed to deliver even a single functional aircraft in 2007, or any other year. The aircraft is missing much of the functionality of other aircraft in its class including the ability to operate in icing conditions or a fully operating avionics suite.
Asked for his reaction, a senior aviation correspondent seemed stunned - “You’re kidding me. First Eclipse Aviation gets the award in 2005 and now Eclipse Aviation Critic in 2007? These are clear signs of the continuing decline of Western Civilization. Think of the greats who earned the Collier Trophy… Glenn Curtiss, Donald Douglas, Chuck Yeager, Kelly Johnson, Sam Williams. And now we’ve got these pretenders – a ‘company’ in New Mexico that can’t finish anything but keeps hauling in money and starting over… and now an Internet page! Orville and Wilbur have got to be spinning in their graves at the speed of the props on the Wright Flyer.”
The trophy will be presented this spring at a black-tie ceremony and dinner held at the National Air & Space Museum. Mr. Blankenship will accept the award on behalf of the blog. Reached by phone, he said, “I never expected to be going to Washington for such an honor. I’ve seen the dinner menu and I’m looking forward to the surf and turf. I’d like my filet medium rare and some friction stir fried vegetables on the side. Off the record, is there any way I can get out of wearing a tuxedo?”
Bloggers who have contributed to the site are invited from around the world. It is expected to draw aviation notables from as far away as South Africa. There has been a wide diversity of opinion expressed on the web site and this is reflected in the reservation name cards to be posted at the center of each table – Faithful, Critics, Diehards, Naysayers, Ex-Eclipsers, Neutral Observers, Spurned Vendors, Afrikaners, Russians, Dutchmen, New Mexico Politicians and Devout Raburnites.
Interestingly no table is to be provided for the Federal Aviation Administration as the FAA has been noticeably absent in the development of the aircraft. With tension running high, security at the event will be at an enhanced level. Specially trained guards will be sporting Winchester Model 1894 lever action rifles.
Black Tulip hopes to attend the dinner if he can work things out with his parole officer. “Sure I picked 99 but I don’t know if I should take that much credit. FlightCenter pointed out it was also the mean value of the whole crowd of buggers… uh, bloggers. Most of all I’d like to thank FlightCenter who tabulated and pushed these numbers around. He had a special touch in making them work out for me.”
Separately, a long-time reader of the blog (who no longer needs his Eclipse model now that he has a Phenom 100 on order) plans to send Black Tulip another prize - a scale model Eclipse 500. It’s an early one, with the Williams engines and no tip tanks. Black Tulip wondered, “Is Eclipse going to update this model to include Avio NG and known ice?”
One last contribution from 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.


mouse said...

Of all of the failures, shortcomings, lies, and misfortunes, the awarding of the Collier to Eclipse last year was the single biggest disappointment I have ever experienced in my aviation career.

This single event took all the wind out of the sails for everyone who previously were awarded this trophy. The award was always intended to be awarded based on a reached goal, and not a promise (which by the way has never been met to date, yet.)

Great post Black Tulip, I only wish it were true. Stan is so much more deserving of the Collier than Vern & Eclipse could ever hope.

FreedomsJamtarts said...

Another great peice of satire from BT.

So if this blog still works, why are we moving?

flightguy said...


That is my thoughts exactly. Stan, may not be calling the shots, but that does not mean people can't keep posting.

WhyTech said...

“Is Eclipse going to update this model to include Avio NG and known ice?”

Yes, on Tuesday!

bill e. goat said...

I'm still in too.

Shane Price said...

I've kept the faith, and checked in!


Well done, BT.

And whoever is keeping this blog up, even if it's not the 'Collier Trophy Winner' himself.


Shane Price said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
flightguy said...

Is it me or does it look like Eclipse is moving toward an IPO overseas. Could they be trying to avoid SEC disclosures. No wonder these is discussions of shutting the blog down. Someone can't afford the bad press.

Anyone else read the latest AIN Feb addition?

bill e. goat said...

You're a d-a-n-g-e-r-ous guy!
I suspect you just looked up Vern's skirt (oh, the horror!!)

I didn't read too much into the article, but since Vern couldn't find anyone in the US to sink money in December, I suspect the same will hold true for IPO, as you suggest.

AIN Feb Eclipse article

golfer said...

stan , is eclipse buying this website blog to shut criticisms. Microsoft did something like that before. Vern is ex microsoft.

bill e. goat said...

On a side note, the Evil Empire's web site has ramped up their job postings to 100: all manufacturing related.

It looks to me like they are fixated on ramping up production (um, sort of like they have been since a year before TC, when they SHOULD have been designing the airplane). The faithful will proclaim this a victory, but in the bigger picture it is UTTERLY unsustainable. One would ask why they would do such a foolish, short-sighted thing: it looks to me like Eclipse is hell bent on burning up the orderbook (of say 800-900 "real" orders) by the end of 2009, then new orders of say 150 or so per year will probably be transferred to the new line in Russia.


mouse said...

The new site is a not cutting it, at least it has not captured my interest.

Plastic_Planes said...

Gotta love this:

“Our big mistake in 2006 was hiring experienced aerospace professionals,” Raburn said. The approach that Fierro brought to the production line “is not understood or recognized in the aviation industry. If you expect a repeatable, rapid pace, you can’t have variability.” Raburn said that he understands now how important it is to prevent allowable tolerances from expanding during the manufacturing process. “Our aviation experts had no idea,” he said.

I don't think there's an aviation related company today that doesn't understand the idea of variation causing problems. That's why so many of these organizations are working with six sigma tools. The biggest problem is hiring engineers with no understanding of GD&T and creating stack-up issues through and through. Seen lots of that at Eclipse, Adam, and others.

There's room for both blogs. If this one keeps up I'll continue to read and post. If not, the other one has some decent places to talk about other cmpanies/products as well. Give it a little time to catch on. This industry is big enough for both.


FreedomsJamtarts said...

“Our big mistake in 2006 was hiring experienced aerospace professionals,” Raburn said.

Hey, how untypical. Lets dis the aviation industry again.

Thanks Vern.

I am sure with that attitude, and your solid reputation for management performance, meeting goals, honesty, and the general sense of long term stablity which Eclipse aviation exudes, experienced aviation professionals are increasingly happy to oblige you and not go and work for you.

Hell I am thinking of packing in my job, uprooting the wife and kids to come to ABQ and lend my certification experience to your dream.

Then again, maybe not!

I remain abused.

flightguy said...

I remain amused???

Where have I heard that before?

airtaximan said...

“Our aviation experts had no idea,” he said.

...and they are stupid people who cannot learn anything.

I guess the YoYo production approach of fits and starts is the "new way" in aviation

I guess the 100 folks laid off who were described as not production employees and canned due to right-sizing the company moving out of development into production... are now being re-hired.... into what? development again and not production? OH, they said they ARE re-hiring the production workers laid off last year...

Makes you think they lied...

bill e. goat said...

"The biggest problem is hiring engineers with no understanding of GD&T and creating stack-up issues through and through".

I agree with you P_P, that tolerance accumulation is a problem in all manufacturing, whether Moller flying cars or Vern's flying taxi.

But i think the biggest "stack-up" issue involves the stacks of design changes...

It sounds like Eclipse STILL doesn't get it: to be able to do volume AND flexibility, you need a talented work force. It's total BS that the problem was due to 2006 hires: the problem started years earlier, with unsound management- they etiher:

a) JUST DID NOT know how to

discipline themselves into committing to develope the airplane before building it.

Trying to make a quick buck, rather than designing it right- it is simply INCREDULOUS that TWO AND A HALF YEARS after "TC*" it is STILL being DESIGNED.

(*provisional TC, as was omitted with annoying predictability).

"Our aviation experts had no idea"

It would appear that Eclipse upper management are the ones, not the "aviation experts", who had no clue.

I admire Vern's financial savy, and even his general good intentions for both Eclipse and it's customers, but there is a time for even a CEO to get out of the way and let "aviation experts" run: an aviation company.

What's been going on for the past decade is flabergasting: any other outfit would have canned the CEO three to six times by now.

Better for Vern to manage finances and schmooze customers, and get the heck out of the way of design and manufacturing.

bill e. goat said...

Some credit (or debit) where each is due...
Regarding the Collier Trophy, I remember some real "turkeys" being awarded that in the past, as well as some real "winners". I'm going to assign my own grading system (thank you very much) for what I've considered the technical merit, and program management effectiveness, with +, 0, - representing good, neutral, bad.

2006 F-22 (tech + / prog.mgmt -)
2005 E-500 (+/-)
2004 SpaceShipOne (-/0)
2003 Gulfstream 550 (0/+)
2002 Sikorsky S-92 (0/0)
2001 LiftFan for JSF (+/0)
2000 Global Hawk (+/+)
1999 F/A-18E/F (0,0)
1998 U-2 Upgrade (0/0)
1997 Gulfstream G-5 (+/+)
1996 Citaxion-X (+/+)
1995 Boeing 777 (+/+)
1994 C-17 (0/-)
1993 Hubble (0/0)
1992 GPS (+/+)
1991 B-2 (+/-)
1990 V-22 (+/-)
1989 F-117 (+/+)
1988 R.Adm Truly (?/?)
1987 NASA Adv TurboProp (0/0)
1986 Voyager (+/+)
1985 Russ Meyer (+/+)
1984 Misc. (?/?)
1983 Apache AH-64 (+/+)
1982 T.A.Wilson (757/767) (+/+)
1981 Space Shuttle (0/-)
1980 Voyager (+/+)
1979 Gossamer Albatross (0/0)
1978 Sam Williams (+/+)
1977 USAF Red Flag (+/+)
1976 B-1 (0/-)
1975 F-16 (+/+)
1974 LANDSAT (+/+)
1973 Skylab (-/-)
1972 Linebacker II (0/+)
1971 Apollo 15 (+/0)
1970 747 (+/+)
1969 Apollo 11) (+/0)

Some might say (rightfully) Eclipse isn't finished yet, well, neither was the F-22, or 777, or just about anything else. Eclipse has been slower than most with project completion, (and noisier than ANY with tooting their own horn:), but still, I think it represents dramatic technical progress for anything under $1.8M or 6000#. So I give it a technial +. On the program management side, I give it a - for years of delays and budget overruns.

There are some other programs that rival Eclipse mismanagement: the C-17 and V-22 being the worse ones that come to mind, and F-22 with years of delays and cost over runs.

In the nothing new under the sun department:

Collier winners from the distant past seem to be able to make today's headlines:

1937 XC-35 Pressurized Airplane (given all the talk about single-engine VLJ's and 25K)

1934 Blind Landing System
(think GPS WAAS/LPV)

1931 Packard Motors- Diesel Aircraft Engine
(lots of that being discussed of late)
Collier Trophy
Speaking of Collier winners, today Feb 09, is the 39th anniversary of the 747 first flight. Entered service less than one year later. (Without robots, Russian ant farmers, etc). Sounds like they had some engine problems too, but still made it in less than 12 months. (Not that any comparison comes to mind:)

bill e. goat said...

(okay, so designing the E-500 was a l-i-t-t-l-e harder than designing the 747 .)

Black Tulip said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Black Tulip said...

Bill E. Goat,

Interesting analysis. I was surprised SpaceShipOne didn't rate higher. I saw the duplicate ship and movie at the EAA Museum in Oshkosh and it seemed to be quite an effort.

There are still many of candidates out there... the Moller SkyCar and the Terrafugia Transition.

11:54 AM, February 09, 2008

Niner Zulu said...

Hey nice to see the blog is still going, for a little while anyway.

Frankly, I don't like the format at vljplanet. I also feel like the moderator is a nanny, ready to slap my hands with a ruler if I put a toe out of line.

My wife tells me it's time to move on and she's right. It's her opinion that anyone foolish enough to put money on an Eclipse deserves exactly what they appear to be getting. Even the most vocal of the diehards, except for Ken, concede that there are major problems with Eclipse both as an aircraft and as a company.

If there is one good thing about Eclipse, though, it is that their training is going to result in there being a lot more good pilots out there. Why? Because the autopilot is unreliable and can't be used for approaches, for one. No crutches. Buyers better brush up on their hand-flying-an-ILS-to-minimums skills. It also is pretty grueling - it will be interesting to see how many pilots stepping up out of Cirrus's can actually complete the program successfully. They may be in for a rude awakening as they find out what it takes to fly this plane in IFR. Oh, I forgot, it's all going to be fixed, right? I've owned planes for less time than it will take some of these buyers to get their planes retrofitted (if they ever do).

By the way, anyone notice the number of Eclipses listed on Controller continues to hit new highs? Up to 57.

gadfly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Black Tulip said...

Niner Zulu and Gadfly,

I’ve been thinking similar thoughts. Stan has run a special forum and it will not be duplicated. He moderated in the finest sense but did not insist on sterility.

The parodies have been fun but there’s not much material left. The next ‘milestone’ will be another cash crisis at Eclipse and we’ve seen that movie.

The situation makes you appreciate good products and ethical companies. Many aircraft out of production for twenty five years have better functionality and are better supported today than the Eclipse 500.

Like your wife says NZ, if there are any more endangered souls out there, it’s because they are impervious to information.

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

Thanks for the comments guys.

Although it was the Eclipse saga that brought everyone together, it has really been a pleasure talking to all of you on a lot of issues surrounding aviation.

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

I'm glad the Colliers review provided some entertainment.

Regarding SpaceShipOne, the Goat is seriously nonplussed due to
1)what was accomplished
2)the way it was accomplished
Regarding exactly what was accomplished, consider the Space Shuttle (first flight 25 years earlier than Space Ship One).
Mass to orbit: 200,000 lb
Velocity in orbit 25000 ft/sec
Orbit Height: 250 miles
That all adds up to 2268.2 billion ft-lbf of energy.

Now, SpaceShipOne
Mass at peak altitude: 3,000 lb
Velocity at peak: about 0
Peak Altitude: 367,000 ft
That adds up to 1.1 billion ft-lbf of energy

Soooo, SpaceShipOne represents 0.05 PERCENT of the energy of the Space Shuttle. A program that is 25 years older. Consider systems sophistication: life support on SpaceShipOne consisted of a oxygen mask and bag of M&M's. For one person. For a time “in space” (above 100KM) of two MINUTES.

Now consider the 25-year old space shuttle. Up to 11 occupants (rescue mode), and time in space can exceed two WEEKS.

Consider cost: Paul Allen alone donated $25 million. Not a lot. But if one considers cost in terms of dollars per pound IN ORBIT. SpaceshipOne doesn't have the energy to go orbital. So let's use cost in terms of dollars per pound of energy. Multiply that $25M by the ratio of Shuttle to SpaceShipOne energy: that's $25M x (2268.2 / 1.1) = $25M x 2000 = $50 Billion. Double that for life support and other systems, and it's $100B. I'd say the shuttle looks pretty good by comparison.
Now considering HOW it was accomplished. I feel it deserves the Jerry Springer Stunt of the Year award. Sorry. It was a stunt. Performed by stunt pilots. For a ringmaster, Burt Rutan. And his flying circus of uncertifiable contraptions.

(I shouldn't say that: after all, Raytheon spent the equivalent of $1B+ current dollars to get the quirky Starship built (all 51 of them). Before buying them all back and cutting them up. Then there is the M309/Adam 500. I'd say they are hoping they are as successful as the Starship).

Yes, he's done a lot of kit planes. But “Experimental” doesn't need to mean low-quality hack engineering.

What you didn't hear:
Safety Questions

check it out at 55 seconds
Uncontrolled Roll

spin control, in more ways than one:

Use your space craft for some off-roading (when the landing gear fail):
Dune Buggy Fun

Brian Binnie (one of Rutan's space cowboys):

"the company’s success of innovation was due to the fact that they’re not process driven.

"They don’t have standards. Process and standards are not motivational and it doesn’t foster innovation".

2007 explosion
2007 Explosion

Thanks, Brian. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Burt and Brian

Black Tulip said...

Bill E. Goat,

Thank you for the interesting analysis and history. One quotation seems ironic:

“Unlike rocket fuel, this material is not dangerous,” Rutan said.

With all due respect to Mouse, I could never understand the Adam 500/700 design. If you look at them head-on they aren't too bad. But if you look from the side, the wetted area seems far too high. Why carry around those big pylons and excessive tail surfaces just to look different. What was Rutan thinking?

Black Tulip said...

Gadfly and Goat,

During the Dark Ages, what little knowledge that was preserved was cared for by monks in the monasteries. Here we are, the village has emptied out… it’s down to just the three of us.

Maybe Stan will get preoccupied with something else and forget to pull the plug on the blog. We can check in occasionally like squatters finding shelter in a vacant mansion.

bill e. goat said...

I think Rutan was thinking, "Hey, this is cool", and did performance calculations based on his usual half-completed designs.

Fantastic speed and range.

Same as he did on
The Air Force T-46
The Pond Racer
The Toyota/Lexus project
The Beech Starship
The V-jet
etc. etc. etc.

The same attention to detail that resulted in the Voyage dragging off the winglets with full fuel.
Regarding us "monks"- you're not saying we are now,
"the faithful"
are you??

gadfly said...

black tulip

For certain reasons, I'll probably not be posting here any more. But you can get my email address from Stan, or Goat, or Gunner . . . with my permission.


Shane Price said...

BT, Goat,

You are not alone!


Keep watching from the sidelines. There's a lot of life in this one for sure.

On a semi serious note, who do you think is in the running for the Collier this year?


Black Tulip said...


Will do. We lived in New Mexico for a couple of years and would like to come back for a visit.

Gunner said...

Eclipse SN01 Flies Again!

Other than the divert from original fuel stop of Fort Smith and the choice to take a rather scenic route on both legs of the journey, the flight from Double Eagle to GNV appears to have been uneventful.

Great plane for getting from Service Center to Service Center, I suspect.

gadfly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FlightCenter said...

Eclipse has delivered a total of 112 aircraft, 12 so far this year and 3 in the last week.

There is production trouble in ABQ with deliveries running at half the rate of last quarter.

They are running at 30% of their committed 1 a day production rate.

Shane Price said...


It's all the fault of those pesky trolleys.

Now, if the would just stay still while the stir fried sections are bolted/riveted/glued/hammered (delete as appropriate) together, everything would be just fine....

And thanks for the update.


Understood. On the road at present, will do when 'hidden' behind my own firewall.


AlexA said...

Another sad day for General Aviation. According to press reports this afternoon Adam Aircraft has closed its doors.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Very sorry to hear about Adam.

I have never been a fan of the design or the evident quality I have seen, but it is still sad to see the dream die.

God speed to all there, good thing for them the industry is booming and employment prospects are good.

Plastic_Planes said...

Mouse and some others were affected by this. Hopefully they will find work in this industry soon. This is a double-hit for the Denver area - 1st ATG, now Adam.

I'm glad I left when I did. In the end, this affects over 650 people.

PubGrubber said...

It is a sad day for GA. First Safire, then ATG, Columbia and now Adam, only one left of the original VLJ startups. With the market cut in 1/2, does this bode well for Eclips? The players have been reduced, is the market still there for the 4 that are left? One final thought, with the unfortunate demise of Adam, how will the VC market respond to Eclips's next round of eventual financing?

bill e. goat said...

Glad you're and some other “regulars” are still tuning in.

(I checked out VLJ planet too- nice, but I'm too stupid and lazy to navigate the forums. Nice to have forums for other topics, but I think I prefer the free-form method we've been using here...).
There is such a preponderence of “airframers” in the Collier's winner's list, I was curious to see what the criterion are for submittal:

“The Robert J. Collier Trophy is awarded annually "for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year."
Collier Trophy

Seems like the only deal is you have to be an American company (sorry, while somewhat of a nationalist, I think it would be more meaningful if it were an international award), and to have been “thoroughly demonstrated by actual use”...??? (I think we are all thinking the same thing).

I would say the next Collier Trophy winner should be:

Garmin for their handheld GPS's.
Other good candidates:

Avionics integration:
Honeywell EPIC, Collins ProLine21, Garmin 1000

New-age engines:
GE and P&W for the 777 motors (RR too, but they're furreners)

For lots of things

(for nifty, practical, avant-garde 4-seaters): SR-20 and 22

For the one-billionth 172, or however many they've built by now.

For WAAS satellites
(military GPS has already won, and rightfully so)

For Synthetic Vision
(maybe still out of sight for a couple of years)
Synthetic Vision

(well, maybe next year- it's certainly not going to be “throroughly demonstrated” this year... If it were an international trophy, I'd put the A380 in here too)

Department of Treasury
For printing enough money to keep Eclipse (and the rest of the USA) afloat.
“Post humously”, I'd offer the following:
F-111 (ahead of it's time)

F-14D (finally caught up with it's time)

F-15X (Put new motors, avionics and some stealth stuff on it, and I think would give the F-22 a run for the money: for a LOT less money. If then Navy is comfortable enough with F-18x's, then the Air Force should really be able to kick butt with souped up F-15's. IMHO).

Black Tulip said...


"First Safire, then ATG, Columbia and now Adam, only one left of the original VLJ startups."

Don't forget the Very First Light Jet (VFLJ)... Bill Northrup and the Century Jet.

Would-a, could-a, should-a.

bill e. goat said...

I was unaware of the (“disruptive” :) Terrafugia (flying car concept). From their website:

Terrafugia is the combination of Latin roots. “Terra” means “Earth” while “fugia” was derived from “fugere”, which means “to escape.” “Terrafugia” loosely translates as “Escape the Earth”.

One-fifth scale model (maybe Vern should have done the Conjet like this...):
Look! Up in the Sky! It's a ...Terrafugia!!!

Thanks for the Adam update. Dang. I liked it's roomy interior, but it was performance challenged. (Some would say aesthetically challenged as well). Let's wish our buds (Mouse, and others?) in Colorado some good job hunting. Economy seems to be fairly good, so let's hope the “transition” is as smooth as possible. (Same goes for those in the Terrafugia).

Maybe Cessna's recently announced Columbus (NOT the same as Columbia, but an odd coincidence...) will be able to absorb most of the folks. It is worth noting that Cessna is aggressively going “up-market”, which I think Eclipse should have gone rather than “down market” with the ConJet.
Cessna Columbus

bill e. goat said...

Gadfly and 9Z,
Sorry to see you guys “bug out” for a while- hope it's a temporary situation, and that all is going well for you guys. I hope you can manage to drop in from time to time.

Gad- I'll drop you an email tomorrow. Just in case the Moller and Terrafugia leave you all cold and wet (?), here's something I thought you might enjoy.

(I did: it makes me feel comfortable, somehow, knowing Vern isn't the looniest guy out there, although that should actually be disquieting instead :).

Well, I'm too embarrased to say

(maybe the Navy is having second thoughts about those F-18's...)

bill e. goat said...

Eclipse...shouldn't-a ???

Shane Price said...


I heard that the F-15 was suffering 'lifetime' issues, notably the primary structure of the aircraft. Have parts of the fleet not been grounded twice this past winter?

Agreed about the navigation problems on vljplanet. I prefer this 'linear' format, where a post kicks off another line of discussion. As normally happens with 'us', this was pretty open, in that there were usually several topics going on at once.


airsafetyman said...

Random thoughts: I knew a test pilot on the F-111 at Eglin AFB years ago. he said the airplane was the worst airplane he had ever flew. The desigers had made an airplane that was both unstable AND unmaneuverable.

Word is the late model F-15s are cleaning the clock of the F-22s in air combat maneuvers on the Gulf Coast ranges.

The original F-18 "couldn't carry much, and couldn't carry it far". That was the evaluation of the A-6 pilots who transitioned to the beast. The Navy responded by building a 1.2:1 scale F-18 and calling it the "Super Hornet". A waste of taxpayer money. Shudda put a tailhook on the F-15E and been done with it.

Black Tulip said...

If there were a God of Aviation, would Adam and Eclipse be banished from the Garden of Eden?

Shane Price said...


What role would Vern play?

The snake?

Possibly. Whispering promises of forbidden fruit to the innocents etc.


That's being a bit hard on poor old Nick...


airtaximan said...

Hi friends:

taximan still here. I do not enjoy the format of the "other" blogsite, either.

Perhaps we can ask Stan to use still use this one?

Perhaps someone can take it over, and continue, with his blessing?

Seems like the industry is in flux, looking for new owners... why not the blog, too?

Just a thought.

Too bad about Adam, but Rutan has never had a real commercial success, I do not believe. He is the legacy behind eclipse, as well... hmm...

nice visiting again.... will probably stop in here regularly from now on...

mountainhigh said...


The last one left in CO is Excel-Jet. They are "flying under the radar" .... building next proto and selling planes.

They are using a different model .... no hype, just build the GD plane.

When you are back in the Springs give Bob a call, I'm sure he'd be happy to show you around.

Thanks for everything! and more!

Bonanza Pilot said...

I could easily setup another blog on this site ( it Eclipse death watch...or whatever cute name everyone came up with. I don't like the format of the new site either....I haven't tried using but it seems pretty simple. I would want Stan's blessings so that everyone would know where to go. Anyone else can also setup a blog on this site..pretty easy.

FlightCenter said...

Mike Press has published a January Newsletter

It is very interesting reading.

As might be expected, he paints a very rosy picture of the recent news from ABQ and the new Russian investors (he claims Putin is backing ETIRC.)

But all is not rosy. He claims that Eclipse will not be able to meet the 1 / day production rate until Q2 2008, but that they will produce 20 aircraft a month in Q1.

He claims that they will not get to 1.5 / day production rate until Q3 (previous plans were Q2).

Even so, he is sticking by Eclipse's previous estimates of 450 to 550 aircraft delivered this year.

He projects 125 aircraft delivered by the end of January (vs. actual deliveries of 109).

He projects 146 aircraft delivered by the end of February (vs. the 112aircraft actually delivered as of last Friday.)

He adds the disclaimer that Eclipse vendors may not be able to keep up with this rate.

He says that prices on the secondary market are firming up with the news from Adam.

He says that EASA certification will keep them busy for another six months. (Remember Vern said at the ETIRC announcement that EASA would occur in Q2).

Mike's summary -

"It will be an exciting year for all those waiting for the Eclipse."

Stan Blankenship said...

bonanza pilot,

Go for it.

If you stick with blogspot, everyone can still probably use their Google/Blogger ID.

flightguy said...

Looks like all the chickens have come home to roost.

Welcome back!!

ExEclipser said...

Adam Kicked While Down!

Plastic_Planes said...


If you mean the city of Pueblo coming after Adam for some of it's money, they had started this before the company's announcement yesterday. I wouldn't be surprised if the city of Ogden pursues the same (although I think most of the OGD work was privately financed).

Should anything happen to Eclipse, the city of Albuquerque and the State of NM will be right there, too. The've done it with other companies (I believe Phillips was the most recent?)


Turboprop_pilot said...

Love to see the blog keep going and get some faithful (and Gunner) back into battle.

I still think ITAR rules will cause big problems for the Russians.


Niner Zulu said...

OK I said I was leaving, but I just have to comment on the latest "market update" from Mike Press.

Mike said "I anticipate the second half of 2008 to see a large demand in Eclipse 500 from European buyers.".

With all due respect, no one has any idea who, in Europe, is going to be placing themselves at the ass-end of Eclipse's order book in the 2nd half of 2008. Never count on a sale until you have a check in-hand, and even then it's iffy.

"Prices for aircraft in the second half of 2008 are still selling at below factory, but they are starting to climb and again as soon as the European demand picks up, these position prices will keep climbling.".

Hmmmm....sounds like what he says nearly every in Sep 2007, Mike said "Once these issues are resolved (hopefully for the good), then the sales will continue and the prices will increase". In May 2007, Mike said "With more Eclipse deliveries in the coming months and Eclipse forecasting a smooth production ramp-up, the secondary Eclipse market should accelerate with prices rising."

Personally, I think the market is going to decelerate, with prices falling.

Metal Guy said...

“Our big mistake in 2006 was hiring experienced aerospace professionals,” Raburn said.

Uh-Oh, the secret is out. Obviously all you need to do to successfully design and produce an airplane, on schedule and on budget, is to hire non aerospace professionals. Gotcha Vern.

Plastic_Planes said...

GAMA numbers re out.

EAC - Eclipse 500: 98 for the year
Adam - A500: 3
Sino - SJ-30: 1

Cirrus: 710
Diamond: 471
Columbia: 152 (thru 12/4)
Cessna: 1274

Based on Units delivered, Cessna had 29.8% (17.8% on $$)

On units, Cirrus was #2 at 16.6% (.84% on $$)

The big dollar winner: Bombardier with almost 24% of the market.

Eclipse had a little over 1/2% of the market.

See results at:

Copernicus said...

Has anyone attempted to run the numbers on Day Jet? With 30 airplanes at $1 million + each and facilities and employees and advertising, wouldn't they have fixed costs of $30 million per year (including debt service)? Can they clear $1000 per revenue hour beyond the direct operating costs? If so, then they need 30,000 total hours or about 2500 per month to reach cash flow breakeven.

Some reader of this blog should be able to do a more educated estimate than the above. But at 120 hours per week, some non-revenue, some with partial revenue, they must be still adrift from breakeven.

This is to be expected for a while in a startup company, but one would think that by now they would have enough customer reactions, trend line of bookings, etc. to be able to reasonably predict a growth path. Anyone have any insight?

airtaximan said...

rule of thumb,

even under management, 300 hours a year only breaks even for most charter operators.

thats per plane... no huge overhead.

No losses based on load factor issues in "charter" either.

30 planes at Dayjet means they need 175 (revenue)hours or so per week, every week... just to break even at the aircraft level.

"revenue" is a moving target in this equation, as well... load factor of per seat, empty legs, and of course, the "ticket price" of between $1-$4 per mile.

Covering the training, marketing, staff, overhead, ant farmers and russian rocket scientists should be a challenge in the current environment.

I would say on a per plane basis, they are at around 1/2 the required hours to break even at the aircraft level alone... plus the overhead which I would guess to be putting them way under water.

Their bplan called for 1000-1200 hours per year per plane, if I recall.

I guess this is about right.

About now, ed's probably trying to convince a "lender" tht his next batch of planes will see more hours and be able to cover the debt service, based on some fancy looking output projection of market growth as they open up more markets.

PS. this is counter-intuitive... if it worked in the markets they were in (to any degree) they would not be scrambling to open markets as fast as possible. My take is some "argument" about more OD pairs... but somehow, with 6 planes, they should have been swamped with the intial Dayports/routes.

Perhaps the sound from the Gong Show is appropriate, now...

The again, with enough time an money, anything is possible, even in aviation, right?

bill e. goat said...

I can't quite remember the correct phrasing, but the joke goes something like:

What the lose per unit (airplane for Eclipse, flight for Dayjet) they'll make up for in volume.

(I still predict less than 50 Dayjet airplanes before aspirations meet reality- or the banker).

FlightCenter said...

2007 GAMA Numbers and some simple math

Aircraft delivered, Total Revenue, Aircraft Average Selling Price


92 Aircraft, $307M, $3.337M ASP

Eclipse 500

98 Aircraft, $121M, $1.238M ASP


46 Aircraft, $132M, $2.870M ASP

Kodiak Quest

1 Aircraft, $1.3M, $1.295M ASP

Which company would you rather be?
Which airplane would you rather be flying?

gadfly said...

FlightCenter asked:

"Which company would you rather be?
Which airplane would you rather be flying?"

Easy answer . . . "Kodiak Quest", because I would never need to be concerned about the ethics behind the plane. For almost fifty years, I have followed the reputation of some of the folks behind this aircraft . . . and even trained to be "one of them" . . . they can be trusted.

Flying in the conditions for which this aircraft is designed are a daily confrontation with everything a pilot would like to avoid . . . the designers and builders have "been there, done that", and they all answer to a Higher Authority . . . what more can be said!


easybakeplane said...

I've really enjoyed reading this blog for about a year now. I was involved in the E-clips saga by almost being employed at the place about 1.5 years ago (that's another story), as well as being involved in a/c pricing exercises (which shows how unrealistic the E500 pricing is compared to similiar a/c)

My take on Stan's decision to shut down this (Eclipse) blog is thus: with the recent announcements of certain 'new technology' bizjets being made, his insight and wisdom are now urgently needed elsewhere. However, if he does take up the challenge, he needs to make sure he doesn't wake up with a moose head in his bed...

Thanks for all the laughs guys!

mountainhigh said...

The Canadian Center for Certification (CCAC) in Calgary is shutting down. They bought $2mil of test equipment in Oct/Nov, 2007. They are now trying to sell that equipment.

Epic was going to be their first client. Don't know if this will have any effect on Epic.

It's unfortunate, CCAC looked like a fast-track way to cert with Transport CA. Too bad they couldn't succeed.

bill e. goat said...

Lots of talk about the challenges of a european cert, but did Eclipse get Transport Canada cert already?

Would you care to offer a realistic price point for the E-500, with Avio-N-NG (Next Next Generation, or whatever it will have in 2009), based on 225 units per year?

mirage00 said...

Even though this blog is essentialy dead (as I predicted!) I decided to post some news :)

Second Sim Certified

I guess I am still amused!

double 00

Gunner said...

"I guess I am still amused!"

Nope. You're still Anthony Infranco, a private pilot without instrument rating who bragged about owning a Mirage some time back. Must have gotten some real use out of it, huh?

Enjoy the new sim.

Now we can ALL be amused.

mirage00 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mirage00 said...

Gunner, you continue to embarrass yourself. Please keep the rest of us safe and refrain from flying while your persistent drinking problem continues.

I remain amused!!

double 00

bill e. goat said...

Gunner and Mirage,
Nice to see you boys drop by!

Congrats to Eclipse for the second sim.

Mirage, I still think Eclipse is going to go belly up, but have to admit, its a fascinating train wreck to watch.

It does appear they are committed to building 700-900 planes, although I don't know how the economics will work for them. After that, I hope the Russian technicians can read English on the sim controls.

Gunner said...

To liberally paraphrase Winston Churchill:

Were I drinking, I'd at least know that in the morning I'll be sober, while you'll still be a non-instrument rated private pilot who claimed to be a Mirage owner sometime in his late teens or early 20's.

"Vroom, Vroom" goes Microsoft Flight Sim. ;-)

gadfly said...

mirage et al,

We'll all be believers when Eclipse finally produces at least one single little bird that meets the promised result.

'Until then, ABQ lives in the land of "manana"! . . . not tomorrow, but just not "today".

'Bottom line, mirage, . . . we wish you a long and safe flying experience.


(Somehow, "Microsoft Flight Simulator Next Tuesday" (SIM) doesn't quite have the same feel as the "real thing" . . . At least (last time I checked) SIM's are relatively safe. I like the part where the screen goes all "crinkly", and you can "reboot" and start again. In the mean time, we will all remain somewhat amused. )

mirage00 said...

Gadfly and Bill, thanks for the respectable response to my post.


To liberally paraphrase the cop who busted you for drinking while driving...

"Breathe into this tube"

Like I said, Please refrain from flying. You're a danger to us all.

I remain amused

double 00

gadfly said...


In reference to your inuendos toward's gunner, we find you "not amusing".


Enough is enough! Please!

Gunner said...

Kindly name that cop or perhaps the date of the incident you infer.

When you're done with that, you might tell us a bit more about ownership of your Mirage. From the records, it appears to have been registered to your Dad.

bill e. goat said...

Hey, I'll take it if nobody wants it!

FlightCenter said...

Interesting question. What exactly does this sim sim?

Is the sim a sim for Avio equipped aircraft? Or is the sim a sim for Avio NG aircraft?

The press release claims that each sim has a throughput of 20 pilots per month. With 2 sims online, they believe they can train 40 pilots a month.

The Eclipse current production plan states that they will be producing 45 aircraft per month in April.

The Eclipse stated sim capacity starting in April will be 60 pilots per month. The fourth sim isn't expected until the end of 2008.

Based on those numbers, Eclipse will have the capacity to train 1.33 pilots per aircraft produced in April.

That projected sim capacity does not have enough capacity to train the pilots required for Eclipse's production plan in Q2 and certainly not enough capacity to meet Eclipse's production plan of 60 aircraft per month starting in Q3.

Here are a few considerations regarding the pilots to aircraft ratio for an Eclipse 500.

DayJet says they need 5 pilots per aircraft.

Other air taxi operators will need similar ratios (at least once FIKI is approved).

Other corporate operators with a two pilot requirement will need a higher ratio than 2 pilots per aircraft on staff to account for vacation, sick time, etc...

A significant number of individual owners will be flying with two pilots.

Of course, some owner/pilots, like Mike Press will have the experience required to pass the single pilot type certificate rating.

FlightCenter said...

ETIRC's demo aircraft left for Europe yesterday.

N514EA recent flight history

FlightCenter said...

Has anyone heard the status of serial #28?

Eclipse committed that serial #28 would be the first aircraft retrofitted with Avio NG.

The plan was for that retrofit to be complete by 8 Feb 08.

According to flight history records serial #28 is still in the Gainesville service center.

Shane Price said...

Goat, Gadlfy, Stan, et al.

It strikes me (from this side of the pond) that moving the blog foward might benefit from a joint effort.

Having more that one moderator would spread the load (and any risk) to mutual benefit.

I would be happy to support such an effort from this side.

I'm thinking of calling it "Eclipse Critic NG", with only a little smirk on my face...

Anyone want to 'step up to the plate' over there?


Shane Price said...

Just to show I mean it...


easybakeplane said...

bill e. goat said...

Would you care to offer a realistic price point for the E-500, with Avio-N-NG (Next Next Generation, or whatever it will have in 2009), based on 225 units per year?

My answer is based purely on the published performance and characteristics of the plane and the assumption that it is comparably equipped to similiar models of a/c in it's category. This doesn't say what, if any, profit or loss is made on each sale, but what a certified VLJ with the characteristics of the E-500 should be able to sell for on the open market.

Approx $2.1 million (2007)

Let the debate begin!