Monday, January 28, 2008

Time to Say Goodbye


Anybody who follows the blog knows that conditions at Eclipse are getting more desperate.

And now that Eclipse intends to bed down with some folks who may not know how to play nice, it is time for me to suspend this blog so as not to become a lightning rod for retribution from ABQ or Europe.


Meanwhile, I would encourage others to set up forums so that the our fellow bloggers will have a place to meet and continue the discussion. In this case I think there is safety in multiple sites, you know, the whac-a blogger syndrome.

Keep checking here for a couple of weeks as there is some unfinished business. I will post links to any other discussion forums and, flightcenter is still waiting for final numbers from the FAA before naming the winner who came closest to picking the number of 2007 deliveries. BTW, the winner will receive one of the Eclipse desk models that are available on ebay.


I have mixed reactions to closing this thing down. It brought together a very impressive group of participants whose collective knowledge and wisdom really made the blog a fountain of aviation information. There is no reason this information can't continue to flow, I just don't want to be in the spotlight.

I am deeply grateful to all of you who have contributed...blue skies to all.

Stan.

Friday, January 18, 2008

from across the pond

fred, our fellow blogger from Germany weighed in this morning on the ETIRC involvement with Eclipse:

i decided to call my friend in EASA to ask about cert for E500 and possibilities of having a simulator based on a plane non cert. , non finished , non funded , etc...


the answer came very straight (sorry for using such words but i want to put it the way it was said ...)

"When will you fuck-off with your joke about that piece of shit ?"

which i took for : NO , no way !;-)

apart this , some news from the russian front ...:

the city where Etirc is supposed to buid ( assemble or pretend to assemble or may assemble ) a plant for E500 production is :

Ulyanovsk or Улья́новск

which is a wonderfull thing for the simple reason i have a good pal working in the city duma (city council)

after being asked about a new firm develloped , in this city , mainly dealing with General Aviation ...

the answer came as :

"Ulyanovsk would be a strange choice ...! not very practical as an other town Воро́неж or Voronezhis actually a town where producing aircraft has a long history AND is under-going some restructuration !

in our town (Ulyanovsk ) there is a fund dealing with small and medium buisness which has priority status with federal budget ...

but a 1B US$ or a 100 M US$ bizz in the town wouldn't been considered as small or even medium bizz , it would be so huge , the city itself may want NOT to host it !

at the time being , from the city duma records , there is not a single evidence of either a russian or foreign entity undergoing such actions as paperworks , licence , land plot buying , etc , such a project would be likely to take ...!

and nowhere it has been announced such a deal was on his tracks anywhere else than in the mind or ideas of its conceptors ...!

"well i think that say enough ... in itself ...

but it would have been funny to see an American plant close to the Lenine's birth house .... ! :-))

fred also submitted a European's view of the U.S. economy with statements we are not going to hear from Bernanke, the Administration or our limp dick press. For a reality check, read fred's 2:12 am comment against the last post.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Eclipse Aviation Receives Level D Simulator Certification on First Attempt

VLJ leader to provide full motion simulator training for customers

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - January 17, 2008 -

Eclipse Aviation, manufacturer of the world's first very light jet (VLJ), today announced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has certified its first flight simulator, manufactured by OPINICUS, as a Level D Full Motion Device. Obtaining this level of certification on the first attempt is unprecedented for a new manufacturer of a new aircraft. Level D is the highest qualification the FAA grants for simulators, and this certification will allow Eclipse Aviation to type certify student pilots without having to train in an aircraft.

Immediately after achieving Level D certification, Eclipse initiated the certification process for its Part 142 syllabus and integration of the simulators and learning environment. This second part of the certification is scheduled to conclude in late January with an official Part 142 certificate from the FAA.

The certification was the result of a successful partnership between Eclipse Aviation, OPINICUS of Lutz, FL, Higher Power Aviation (HPA) of Dallas, TX, and Flight Simulation Company (FSC) of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

"It is quite a feat for a new manufacturer to be granted this level of flight simulator certification on the first try, and particularly so with an aircraft as innovative as the Eclipse 500," said Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse Aviation. "These simulators will play a major role in our progressive training program, and this milestone reflects our commitment to bring only the highest-quality training devices and instruction to our customers."

Eclipse's training capacity is accelerating with each new certified device. The company expects to have three Full Motion Level D simulators in customer operation by April 2008, with the second device slated to receive certification in February, and the third in March 2008. Eclipse continues to use a Flight Training Device (FTD) for cockpit procedures training, flight skills assessment, and to augment training and improve proficiency. Eclipse expects to have all four full motion simulators in operation by late 2008.

Following official Part 142 approval, Eclipse will begin its first simulator training class for customers in late January, 2008 with subsequent classes beginning in February 2008.

Thanks to EclipseOwner387 for the heads up on this one.

Friday, January 11, 2008

FIKI Certification - A Recap

The blog's resident statistician and historian, FlightCenter compiled the following background on the dates Eclipse had scheduled for certification to provide for Flight Into Known Icing conditions:


There have been a number of discussions regarding the expectations Eclipse set for itself in terms of delivering FIKI.

Here is a recap of their FIKI commitments.

In May of 2000, when Eclipse accepted deposits for the first 160 aircraft, FIKI was expected to be included upon initial TC of the aircraft, which at that time was scheduled for Q2 2004.

In February 2003, Eclipse sent a letter resetting expectations after the Williams engine change. 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. Certification now expected Q2 2006.

In June of 2006, customers received another letter. At that time, Vern promised that Type Certification was only a few weeks away and FIKI was promised by the end of 2006. At that time, expectations were set that the only change required for FIKI would be a delta to the AFM.

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.

In June of 2007, Eclipse modified the FIKI certification expectations to Dec 2007.

In Sep of 2007, Eclipse modified the FIKI certification expectations to early 2008 and informed customers that FIKI would require aircraft level retrofits for aircraft in the field.

The current commitment from Eclipse is that FIKI will be certified in a few months and that retrofits will be completed within the next twelve months.

FIKI Commit -- Delay

Q2 2004 -- 4 Years for cert + 1 year for retrofit
Q2 2006 -- 2 Years for cert + 1 year for retrofit
Dec 2006 -- 1 ¼ Years for cert + 1 year for retrofit
Dec 2007 -- ¼ Year for cert + 1 year for retrofit
Early 2008 -- TBD

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

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dear Eclipse Supplier,

Over the past few months, Eclipse has demonstrated measured improvements and sustained results in regards to achieving our delivery ramp, due in large part to the implementation of the Eclipse Production System. In 2007, Eclipse certified and delivered the first Avio-NG jet. A total of 104 E500s were certified of which 98 were delivered to customers since December 31, 2006. Currently, AC-142 has started the production process.

Unfortunately, recent developments have made it obvious that risk exists to the delivery plan issued September, 2007. While internally we have made significant progress, and a vast majority of our Suppliers have delivered as agreed, one key Supplier has not performed to our expectations in terms of production rate and product quality. This has directly affected the planned airworthiness certificates in December and through the first quarter of 2008. Eclipse has no choice but to adjust the 2008 production ramp and plan to align with this Supplier's expected performance.

We are extremely disappointed that we must take this action. Rest assured that we are attempting to work directly with this Supplier to assure delivery and improve their ability to deliver. We have offered them every possible resource at our disposal and are confident that the Integrated Team approach that we successfully deployed with our partners at Fuji Heavy Industry can be deployed with equal success here. That collaboration between Eclipse and Fuji teams yielded strong improvements that are a testament to the collective dedication of Eclipse and Fuji and to the effectiveness of Integrated Team approach.

In light of the foregoing, production ramp for 2008-2009 has been revised and loaded into MRP with updated Schedule Agreements to start being issued today. This revised ramp has 2008 certifications at 455 and 2009 at 810 certifications. In 2008 we are targeting achieving a 1.0/day delivery rate in April and growing to 2.0/day by December.

As always, please review the SA's, and communicate any issues within (5) days. If any issues or concerns develop, please contact your respective Buyer so we can mutually resolve any concerns.

We are grateful for the strong support and performance that our Suppliers have demonstrated in the past and are counting on your continued support to meet and exceed these adjusted projections.

Thank you for your continued support of the Eclipse 500 program.

Sincerely,

Bill Bonder
Vice President, Supply Chain

Dated: January 4, 2008

Sunday, January 06, 2008

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)

John R

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."

And:

"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 ! "

And:

"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."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Eclipse Aviation Completes First 100 Airplanes Faster Than Any General Aviation Jet Aircraft Manufacturer in History

VLJ leader sets record by certifying more than 100 Eclipse 500s in only 12 months

ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- January 1, 2008 -- Eclipse Aviation, manufacturer of the world's first very light jet (VLJ), today announced it has produced and certified 104 Eclipse 500s since December 31, 2006. Reaching this milestone makes Eclipse the fastest general aviation jet aircraft manufacturer in history to produce its first 100 airplanes. The VLJ leader completed a total of 103 aircraft in 2007. Previously, the fastest ramp to 100 aircraft was achieved by Cessna, which reached 100 Cessna Citation 550 aircraft after approximately 18 months.

"We're transforming how jets are built, and how people travel," said Vern Raburn, Eclipse Aviation president and CEO. "It's an audacious goal, and one that stretches us every day to go beyond what seems possible. Day-to-day setbacks are inevitable, but the reality is that we have created a new aircraft category and are bringing a new breed of jet to market at a rate never before seen in general aviation."

Brought forward by bob who added - They failed to mention that they told the world they would make 505 in 2007.