Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I begin to wonder...

FlightCentre, the 'offical' record keeper reports this week as follows:-

Eclipse 500 aircraft deliveries came to a halt last week.
The FAA data for the last week shows no Eclipse 500 aircraft deliveries.
Eclipse has delivered 19 Eclipse 500 aircraft so far this year.
This is less than half the planned deliveries of 20 per month for Q1.


Gunner, with an EPIC LT due to start building promptly (and interested in people to help out...) says:-

If the recent slowdown in ramp-up continues, my bet is I'll be flying an LT before Ken fires up his Eclipse for the first Solo. I think I put my order in Sept 2007.

Note to new members, Ken Meyer is alleged to have an Eclipse position in the s/n 150 range.

Several sources, who used the blog email (sorry, I just have to plug it again!)
eclipsecriticng@gmail.com to contact me, have indicated serious issues around EASA certification for the E500. The principle problems would appear to be with both the untried nature of Friction Stir Welding in this particular application and the stability of the avionics as it relates to the single pilot rating.

We are all aware of the 'fog of war' around AvioNG and Flight Into Known Ice (FIKI) which continues into March 2008!. The Russian 'adventure' has also been the subject of many interesting questions.

So I ask myself, what do the customers, depositors, suppliers and staff at Eclipse make of this?

Are they happy?

I doubt it.

Are they fully informed?

Not if the emails I've seen and posts on this blog are to be believed.

Is the production ramp enough keep the cash rolling in and the show on the road?

Well I'm sorry to have to put it like this, but I know what I think.

And they are not happy thoughts....




 


97 comments:

BricklinNG said...

Vern said in late August that SN70 was starting production and. In early Jan 08 that the starting SN was 140. I was told that an owner reported SN 170 a few days ago. So these 3 data points show production at a steady 15 per month, maybe a slightly higher rate earlier and lower rate in Jan/Feb but it's hard to be precise with 3 points. So in 4 months at this rate they will start SN230 And finish it 2 months later. I think they have called deposits up to 400, however. By this analysis 400 will be done in about 18 month so one must wonder when the customers will balk at sending in 6 month deposits which will starve EAC for cash.

Now they may speed up but there is no evidence yet. Also, if there are delivery problems (problems with Avio e.g.) then they might slow down. In any case, a hiatus in collecting deposits appears likely if depositors realistically evaluate what's going on.

sparky said...

I wouldn't mind knowing the status of the retro-fits.

How can eclipse call up more progress payments. They called in 300 of the six-month payments a year and a half ago and have yet to complete half of those.

I wouldn't send a dime until i saw sustained deliveries and progress on the still-unfinished airframe.

PubGrubber said...

On the plus side, they've finally hired another 4 VP's. But no one for Engineering or Quality. That must mean the design is complete, and quality is not an issue.

Bonanza Pilot said...

So are we ready to start an Eclipse death pool? Death being defined as bankruptcy. How about a Vern leaving to pursue other interests pool?

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Hmmmm, Contracts, Finance, Counsel and CIO.

Still no VP Engineering, No VP Training and Safety, no VP Investor Relations.

And of course, there is also still no FIKI, no fully functioning autopilot, no FMS, no EASA cert, no autothrottle, no full relief for transparency and bushing issues, no airworthy modified aircraft, no profit, etc., ate., ad nauseum, and the key issue, NOT ONE SINGLE DELIVERED AIRCRAFT THAT DOES EVERYTHING PROMISED ALMOST TEN YEARS AGO.

Sure, call the next set of sheep to the slaughter for their 'progress' payments - anyone who ponies up at this point with the existing body of evidence gets what they deserve - whether customer, supplier or would-be employee.

How do you say Caveat Emptor in Russki - "Покупатель быть осторожным"

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Eclipse still leading Cessna in key measures

SUBJECT ECLIPSE / CESSNA
Airworthiness Directive, 3 to NONE

Incomplete Aircraft Delivered, over 92 (nobody is really sure) to NONE

Aircraft lacking utility due to missing functionality, ALL to NONE

Failure to attain EASA Cert on Schedule, 1 to NONE

Vendors under the bus, Too-Many-to-Count to NONE

Customer forced to pay for aircraft NOT delivered within 6 months, ~300 to NONE

Just keeping it real and amusing myself, that's the beauty of it.

bill e. goat said...

Bricklinng,
I think you have NAILED the situation- the "ramp up" is really just a scheme to rake in more progress payments.
There is simply no good reason for Eclipse to burn through their order book by actually ramping up production.

The only sane reason to really ramp up production would be to burn through the order book in time to move to Russia at the end of 2009. (I suspect, as others have mentioned, getting those airplanes into the US, might be an issue)
------------------------------

Gunner,
"If the recent slowdown in ramp-up continues, my bet is I'll be flying an LT before Ken fires up his Eclipse for the first Solo".

The same thought had occurred to me, but I didn't want to be the first to bring it up.
------------------------------
Pubgrubber,
"That must mean the design is complete, and quality is not an issue".

;)

Niner Zulu said...

Guys, I think the FAA website is just lagging behind on the deliveries.

Here's what I've been able to find out:

s/n 133 completed last week but still in ABQ N21EK
s/n 134 N800EJ in the delivery process now
s/n 139 left on 3/3 N500MM - should be on Flightaware
s/n 152 in final assembly

There is some talk that planes are not being delivered in sequence, and also that 20 planes were delivered in February, but I can't find any info to verify this one way or another.

Niner Zulu said...

Article in the Russian news

"Eclipse Jets Into Lenin Town"

FlightCenter said...

9Z,

The FAA in process website has historically been very timely in terms of its data. It agreed with the GAMA data and the Eclipse data within one aircraft for the year. I see no signs that it is lagging.

This has not been the case of the FAA registry database, which often lags more than 30 days.

I switched to using the "in process" website data sometime last year for just this reason.

In terms of serial #139 making a flight this week, that isn't a positive indication that the aircraft has been delivered. Produced yes, but not delivered.

If you check flightaware today, you'll see that the aircraft (N500MM) returned to ABQ yesterday. Maybe it is a new demo aircraft, maybe it is flying off some squawks, maybe it is looking for ice...

All records show it is registered to Eclipse (status - US corporation).

The other aircraft you identify as being in various stages of completion are, by definition, not delivered.

I'll keep my eye on them though.

Thanks for the comments though, any information from the field helps to ensure the accuracy of the data.

bill e. goat said...

FC and 9Z,
Thanks for the (continuing) good data about production numbers.

Maybe the discrepancy is due to the difference between "delivered" and "delivered (tm)"

(...or should that be Delivered-NG :)

FlightCenter said...

ATM,

Yes, agreed.

I was considering using the word grinding in my post, but didn't want to steal your thunder...

From 9Z's info, it seems that production is continuing. It's just that deliveries were zero last week.

Is it a coincidence that Eclipse is having trouble keeping enough of those pesky quality guys working at Eclipse?

eclipso said...

F/C said:

Is it a coincidence that Eclipse is having trouble keeping enough of those pesky quality guys working at Eclipse?

From a reliable source there: A "higher up" in Quality was informed that he needed to step down and let them put a younger person in so they can get going with "high-volumn" inspection. Having been in the QA world for a "few" years, I don't recall seeing that in any standard...however, I must admit I wasn't building autos

mountainhigh said...

9er Zulu,
Interesting Russian article, thanks. Said Pieper got 51% stake from the deal.

Exepilot,
Think you asked what happened with the CCAC (Can. Center for Aircraft Cert.) in Calgary. I have a couple of theories.

1) They had been trying to solicit aviation companies (for a couple of yrs) to use their services. They seemed to have qualified people and a good plan. However, in at least one case they ran into a problem with independence.

In this case they flew a team (cert engineers, etc) to visit a prospective VLJ client. During a technical meeting at which design issues and other proprietary data was being discussed, a CCAC engineer said he "shouldn't be hearing" this material. He said he was working with/for Epic. Of course, he didn't excuse himself until a lot of proprietary data had been discussed .... but on the good side at least he made a disclosure and left.

This meeting was before Epic and CCAC announced that Epic would be their inaugral client and they'd share space.

CCAC seems to have had the problem, not Epic. The other VLJ company wouldn't touch CCAC after that. Don't know if others had the same experience.

2) CCAC needed client money to maintain operations. As far as I know, Epic was their only client and if their money was delayed would certainly have impacted CCAC.

3) There may have been some push back from Diamond. Diamond has recently blocked some VLJs from moving to eastern Canada via political maneuvers (very similar to what Eclipse and NM have done). Don't know if Diamond has a reach into western Can. or not.

In sum, my speculation as to the reason they closed (could be wrong)...
independence
lack of money
possible political issues re: Diamond.
----
Epic seems like a good company. Think CCAC had their own issues.

Gunner, don't know if the above fits in with what you may have heard on CCAC?
----

On another note. Heard from an Adam ex-exec. They are trying to find investors to buyout the assets and start up. He thought it was great that they could stiff the investors, vendors, et al. and start with a clean bal. sheet ... didn't seem to care who all got hurt in the deal as long has he had a paycheck.
Now that kind of thinking is what's wrong with the industry!

Gunner said...

mountainhigh-
I'd heard nothing of the conflict you mention. Could certainly be possible.

Companies like Adam are exactly what Bankruptcy laws were designed for. They were basically an honorable company trying to bring a product to a VERY competitive market. (Yes, there are some rumors that Rick Adam stretched the envelope with some of his promises when desperation set in. That's why I say "basically" honorable).

Investors get high returns because they take high risks. Bankruptcy is one of those risks...Life in the Big City. Vendors? Well, they're in the same boat and I certainly hope none of them were starry eyed enough to bet the farm on an aircraft startup company.

The same goes for Depositors. The deposits are non-refundable. That's the price you pay for being the "first in line". Caveat Emptor. The Epic deal puts me in no different a position. Who owns "half an aircraft", if they go under? Who wants half an aircraft, for that matter? Is insurance available should the facility burn to the ground with your half finished SN inside?

Again, you place your bet, you takes your chances.

The purpose of Bankruptcy is to protect, not the creditors,not even the assets. The purpose is to protect the MARKET such that a valuable product, poorly executed first time around, might still be brought to that Market.

BK is not a pretty sight, especially if you're one of those holding worthless paper. But, aside from notable abuses of the process and notable pogues like the exec you reference, I think it has a very real place in a Free Market.

As always, YMMV.
Gunner

Shane said...

9Z, Goat,

Is it possible that DeliveriesNG (I really like this new, Eclipse Speak we are using) are REALLY being delayed by a combination of the following:-

1. Supplier reluctance to continue delivery of parts without payment on overdue accounts.

2. Avio NG delays, with a decision down ABQ way to hold back on shipping further aircraft that would have to return for modification in the short term.

3. Customers insisting that the won't take delivery (NG or otherwise) until key benchmarks (FIKI etc) are met. I'm not talking about the private buyer, but Ed and his merry band of airtaximen, who are the 'official' volume purchasers.

Just a thought (or three)

Shane

Niner Zulu said...

News on Aviationweek.com today - if this article is correct, Dayjet just took a lot of deliveries:

DayJet Corp., the per-seat, on-demand air taxi service based in Florida, is continuing its rapid expansion, adding "DayPort" locations in Macon, Ga., Montgomery, Ala. and North Miami/Opa-Locka, Fla. The additional locations expand the Eclipse 500 fleet operator's number of DayPorts to 10 and total destinations to more than 50 locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina. DayJet provides its per-seat, on-demand service between DayPorts or to other specific destinations -- provided that the trips begin or end at a DayPort, where the company has at least some ground infrastructure in place. DayJet is operating the new Dayports from the Macon Jet Center in Macon, Ga. (MAC), Montgomery Aviation at Montgomery Regional Airport/Dannelly Field (MGM) and Miami Executive Aviation at Opa-Locka Executive Airport (OPF).

Meanwhile, deliveries have raised DayJet's Eclipse 500 fleet to 65 aircraft.

mountainhigh said...

Gunner,
I appreciate your thoughts on BK and I also think it has a place.

However, the recent cases (Adam, ATG) leave is distorted market perception. Now investors and certain vendors are starting to believe that is takes 400 mil to 1 bil to certify a VLJ. That just isn't so!

There are a few great products out there and a few honest companies and those companies continue to struggle in the capital markets due to false perceptions created by Adam, ATG, Eclipse and the like.

Of course, Eclipse has always wanted to create artifically high entrance barriers.

The customer also suffers because this pushes the price of the product up.

I know this is how the game is played. The investors are money guys who know very little about good design and often get sold a bill of goods and are wowed by the marketing glitz.

Again, BK definitely serves a purpose and I agree "buyer beware."

Just wish there was a way to better educate the VLJ market, lot of ignorance out there with the investers, purchasers, etc.

Wish more would read this blog for educational purposes!

FYI, some of the Adam ex-exe's are being personally sued regarding the BK. Yep, I know this most often happens also.

Just my thoughts.

Gunner said...

MH-
I do agree with your sentiments, but not your argument (if that makes any sense).

So what if aviation outsiders believe it costs a Billion Dollars to design and certify a plane? No matter what line of business you're in, outsiders will inevitably be perplexed and wrong about the costs involved. This is the nature of a free market.

The investors' job is specifically to LEARN the business they're investing in. That's all they have to do...they don't have to create a damned thing. Shame on those lazy enough to rely on promises rather than research. I know; I've been one of those "lazy" guys. The beauty of the Free Market is that it weeds them out pretty quick.

For every investor in Eclipse, there were probably a dozen who passed because the numbers simply didn't make sense. Al Mann? It was a run at Glory (in the very best sense of the word); he just partnered up with the wrong guy. He'll get over it.

The markets? They'll be affected not in the least. The guys who invested in the Eclipse BS Return Promises wouldn't be interested in the least in what an Epic or a Diamond has to offer. Pocket change in comparison to what Vern was offering. They didn't invest because they were desperately seeking an aircraft deal; they did so because they were desperately GREEDY and chose to believe what their common sense told them was too good to be true.

Same goes for the aircraft buyer. Guys are spending the same amount of money on SE experimental turboprops and SE 4 seater jets as the Eclipse. Gotta ask yourself, "Why"? I know Ken does. ;-)

"Just wish there was a way to better educate the VLJ market, lot of ignorance out there with the investers, purchasers, etc."

I simply disagree. The aviation market is not ignorant. The ignorance in it just gets more press. Because Vern would have it no other way!
Gunner

airsafetyman said...

I think with Eclipse the Russian investors will not be investing their own money, no one is that stupid. It is the hapless Russian citizen that will be left holding the bag. Kind of like our ongoing bank collapse (Citigroup, Bank Of America, Merrill Lynch, et.al). In the good times the profits are privatized; in the bad times the losses get dumped on the taxpayer. Also known as Texas capitalism.

baron95 said...

Mountainhigh said ... On another note. Heard from an Adam ex-exec. They are trying to find investors to buyout the assets and start up. He thought it was great that they could stiff the investors, vendors, et al. and start with a clean bal. sheet ... didn't seem to care who all got hurt in the deal as long has he had a paycheck.
Now that kind of thinking is what's wrong with the industry!


I'm not sure I can fault the ex exec. Venture Capital investment into any startup company, let alone an aviation startup, is the very definition of very-high-risk. VCs know that. They are professional investors. They don't need anyone to take care of them. they are perfectly fine with losing all their investment in 8 out of 10 deals, to make it big on 1 or 2 out of 10. It is all part of the game.

In Adam's case, the investors bailed (failed to make follow on investments) therefore leading the company to liquidate. Anyone that comes in a picks up the assets and starts AdamNG is just doing the financial version of recycling. Nothing to be too critical of.

Of course, in the case of Adam, with that dog of a design, it is all hopeless.

baron95 said...

Mountainhigh said... Now investors and certain vendors are starting to believe that is takes 400 mil to 1 bil to certify a VLJ. That just isn't so!


It does not take $400M-$1B to certify a VLJ - you are correct. But that is not what the Eclipse/Adam lesson is.

The lesson is that it takes 8-10 years, $400M-$1B to certify a VLJ AND build a company from scratch to design, certify, mannufacture it. And that is accurate.

Cessna and Embraer can certify a VLJ for $250M give or take. Eclipse, Honda, Adam need to count on $500M-$1B to do the samething while at the same time building up a company to do it.

That is a big difference. And it is not unique to aviation. GM and Ford can launch a new model for $1B. A new auto company starting from scratch would prob take $5B-$10B to do the same.

I'm not sure why most posters here seem to be so shocked that Eclipse is taking 10 years and $1B. That is what Ifully expected from the begining. I'm just surprised that Eclipse manage to avoid 1 or 2 Ch 11 and 1 or 2 changes of control like other companies before them.

mountainhigh said...

Gunner, you summed it up well.

Baron,
"The lesson is that it takes 8-10 years, $400M-$1B to certify a VLJ AND build a company from scratch to design, certify, mannufacture it."

That is the lesson from Eclipse/Adam. And I think we fall into a trap by believing that their struggles ... poor design, multiple redesigns, high burn rates, and all the other crap .... need apply to every VLJ startup.

If we believe their lesson, we are essentially saying "because they screwed it" all others will and there is no better way. That seems to be the type of group think that Eclipse loves to perpetuate.

You include "build a company and manufacture it" in the 8-10yrs and $400mil-$1bil.

Why do it all at once. Why not think outside the box a little. Build a great product first, prove it, then build the organization.

I think it can be done in stages (assuming quality design the first time) for 200-400mil and 4-5 yrs.

As someone already said Cirrus started in a barn (and HP started in a garage in CO) Just my thoughts.

gadfly said...

Somehow, I do not think this effort has the slightest relationship to “real aircraft”, but a cheap (?) attempt to make a quick buck from unsuspecting people with “money-to-burn” (well, at least the “whana-bees”), that are impressed with the claims of technology, without the slightest knowledge of how it all comes together in the real world. The little jet, at best, was never able to deliver anything close to what was promised . . . and knowledgeable people saw that in an instant. The very design prevents further improvements in technology.

But someone with a “claim to fame” was able to convince the vulnerable that this would be the “jet to exceed all expectations” . . . whatever! “Real Aviation People”, not often having to deal with this sort of thing, were willing to see if the reality matched the claims. That gave the promoters all the room they needed . . . that space in time, to move ahead . . . gathering momentum, politically and financially.

Anyone can write the final “chapters” . . . the only question is the “timing” of when the book goes to press.

gadfly

(And you all know the numbers of the final chapters . . . do you not?)

gadfly said...

"and HP started in a garage in CO"

'Just a minor correction, but it should read, "and HP started in a garage in CA" . . . important, since history has a special place for the "Silicon Valley".

gadfly . . . a fourth generation "native" of the Golden State, CA

Gunner said...

gadfly . . . a fourth generation "native" of the Golden State, CA

Gad-
You braggin' or complainin'? :-)
Gunner

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

I think Eclipse and Adam have honestly contributed to the body of realistic aviation knowledge by testing the technology.

Let's be honest with each other. For MANY of us the failure of the aviation industry to mass produce, or to produce designs that had not been developed in the 1950's looked like a real opportunity. The advances in materials engineering, small jet propulsion and even FSW were certainly worth exploring in the New Millenium.

And for MANY of us, the dream that those advances were ready for prime time just made sense. Adam and Eclipse have demonstrated that these advances have not changed much of anything in terms of the economics of flight:
- If you want a lower fuel burn, you still have to sacrifice speed or size.
- If you sacrifice size or engine redundancy, don't expect the completed aircraft to sell at a significant discount from its larger (or twin engine) counterpart.

It's for this reason that I think the D-Jet (as one example) may be viable. They're selling to customers who are realistic about the trade-offs; and their projections recognize the fact that this market is very limited in size.

In short, Adam and Eclipse have demonstrated that technology has not advanced to the point where VLJ's will be a dominant aviation player.
Gunner

Shane Price said...

Gunner,

Amen.

As in, I agree.

You have managed, in a couple of hundred words, to distill the whole story.

Well done, and best wishes with your LT.

Shane

airtaximan said...

"In short, Adam and Eclipse have demonstrated that technology has not advanced to the point where VLJ's will be a dominant aviation player."

In other words:

The technology promise failed, and the market for VLJs is much smaller than previously thougt - therefore, realistically, prices must go up - no volume production advantages, and no significant technology price advantages.

The ultimate point - the VLJ market, the PRIVATE PILOT market is pretty samll. The air taxi market might be huge, just not for the VLJ plane.... it ain't no taxi plane.

airtaximan said...

the lesson of eclipse:

"don't get high on your own supply"


seriously: there's enough engineering talent and aerospace manufacturing talent, supplier talent and capacity to aplly a low cost approch through outsourcing (not only to India or Russia) and using existing COTS systems, in order to build and certify a less expensive jet.

The way they did it was ocmpletely ass backwards... and now, after all is said and done, they go outsource the thing to Russia.

Joking, right?

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

ATM said:

"The ultimate point - the VLJ market, the PRIVATE PILOT market is pretty samll. "

Lets face it, the ENTIRE general aviation (non airline, non military) maket is small in terms of unit volumes - about 2500-3000 units per year total IIRC. (By comparison, the market for automobiles is north of 10 million per year.)

I have made the point here repeatedly that this is in large measure due to the limited utility of aircraft at the lower end of the price-performance spectrum. These acft simply demand too much of the owner/pilot for the return in utility provided. Case in point: consider the training requirements for the Eclips just to get into the pilot seat. At present, a prospective owner/pilot must be prepared to acquire and maintain ATP level skills to operate a VLJ single pilot. Who is going to do that except for the most addicted? A very small segment of the potential market.

Until technology dumbs down the pilot knowledge/skill requirements (increases the utility) by a radical amount, the market will remain small regardless of price.

WT

Black Tulip said...

Whytech,

Thanks for repeating your excellent observation. With increasing economic woes, the 'private pilot' might seek simpler ways to scratch the flying itch.

Copernicus said...

So if the market is relatively small and Eclipse will never sell 500 or 1000 per year then EAC is in real trouble. Look at EAC's obligations: (1) deliver a large number of airplanes at $1.5 m (or less), but receiving cash payments of less (in some cases considerably less) than $1.5 m because deposits on these airplanes have long since been spent.(2) Fix 100 airplanes that need retrofits (3) pay suppliers and honor contracts to buy large numbers of components (4) service large amounts of debt.

This makes EAC an obvious candidate for Chapter 11. The TC, right to make and sell airplanes plus the tools and equipment would be bought from the Court and the proceeds would give the creditors some cents on the dollar. The new owner of the former EAC assets could set a modest plan to make 100 per year and hopefully then have a decent, if unspectacular business.

But wait a minute. In early 2008 all the information necessary to make the airplanes was sold to a Russian company, along with exclusive rights to sell in Europe. Depending on how long EAC stays afloat (which, in turn, depends on how long the 60% deposits keep flowing in), a Russian factory might actually be built. If this deal and the Russian plant is untouchable in a US CH11 proceeding, then the value of the EAC bankrupt estate will be materially diminished. Maybe a potential new owner of EAC would hesitate if there were a competitor already established making the same airplane.

For Raol Pieper, he thinks that there are enough possible sales in Europe to support a factory unburdened with baggage being carried by EAC. Maybe he is right; maybe he can make 100 a year and have a successful business. For Vern, the Russian deal got him a brief life extension (it won't take that long to blow through $100m) but the long term position of the Eclipse creditors is now probably worse.

baron95 said...

A VLJ private owner/pilot must have:
1 - A lot of disposable income/net worth.
2 - A lot of disposable time - to acquire/maintain ATP-level skils.
3 - A lot of ability - to maintain and aquire ATP-level skils.
4 - Passion for aviation to put up with the endless regulations and limitations of the system.
5 - A real need to use the airpane on a consistent basis.

This is a very samall segment of a very small market (GA avaiation).

Some business users - e.g. Toll Brothers with construction projects all over the US - could use such a plane - again a small market.

Air Taxi - remains to be seen. My guess is that Air Taxi will be a good secondary market for VLJs - in 10-15 years once they start coming in to the used market and the piston twins and older King Airs start coming apart.

All in all, it is a market, but a limited one.

Any new company that attempts to crack a small but capital intensive market has a steep climb. It is virtually impossible to get it right the first time. You need to factor in abandoning your first product or significantly redesign it. You need to factor in having to abandon your niche and change your target customer base. You need to factor in that mistakes - big ones - will be made.

This notion that some are advancing that you can have a new company, building a brand new VLJ design with no mistakes is totally ridiculous. Fantasy land.

If I were an Eclipse investor, I'd like to see on the original business plan a line that said: $150M for airframe/avionics redesign. And another one that said $150M for major supplier replacement. That is a realistic business plan.

WhyTech said...

Baron 95 said:

"Any new company that attempts to crack a small but capital intensive market has a steep climb. It is virtually impossible to get it right the first time. You need to factor in abandoning your first product or significantly redesign it. You need to factor in having to abandon your niche and change your target customer base. You need to factor in that mistakes - big ones - will be made."

With 20 years as a technology venture capitalist and another 15 years as an exec in emerging technology companies, I can say with some confidence that Baron95's statement is pretty much true for most technology intensive startups. The big difference with aircraft is that mistakes/do overs cost much, much more than in most other industries.

WT

Niner Zulu said...

S/N 135 (N3MT) was delivered on 2/28.

Word has it that s/n 147 is in the final delivery checkout hangar and "should be delivered next week".

That mean our friend Ken should be getting his plane within 3-4 weeks, assuming he's in the 150's.

Radar Altimeter, FMS, Autothrottle and GPS are scheduled for 4th qtr 2008, but we know how reliable those forecasts are.

If Eclipse keeps production at 20/month, that's a LOT of airplanes that are going to need retrofitted. The first buyers will have owned their planes over 2 years before they get GPS.

mountainhigh said...

Gadfly,
You are right on! You cut right you the heart of it.

And thanks for the correction on HP and the garage in CA. I think one of the founders was from Pueblo, CO (can't remember if it was H or P).

airtaximan said...

folks, folks, folks (glad to see most of the old guard back...)

the private pilot and GA market ARE SMALL... my point precisely. This IS the reson eclipse has tried to describe the e500 as a taxi plane... transportation solution, etc.

Its the only way to get money from investors... period. NOt enough private pilots showed up to the (pot) party anyways... not even after the bus billboards at NBAA and the huge booths, and the full page ads in all the magazines.

It took all that to come to the realization the private pilot market was small... should done some homework, perhaps.

So, the pitch and the BS is a taxi plane... problem is...

for this mission, and this size plane, there is a perfectly good prop out there at a fraction of the seat price or charter price.

Anyone willing to get on that little thing, will easily get on prop, for an hour, at a fraction of the cost.

So... remember, every time you read something about air taxi, its a BS statement that is the only way possible to get to higher rate and lower volume.

Too bad they have the wrong plane, for this market.

gadfly said...

mountain high

There are so many possible paths to follow . . . where to start? The bottom line is that there is more than a slight similarity between the final chapters and the cheap convenience store by a similar name (‘need I spell them out . . . and they are not spelled “Allsups”). People that shop at a cheap convenience store may, on occasion, expect to pay a premium, and possibly be robbed. Shop around for a “cheap jet”, and . . . well, you pay your money and take the risk!

Somehow, I wouldn’t buy a major appliance from a “7-11" . . . but then, that’s just my own bias.

And, Gunner, I’m most grateful for a certain “lady” that took the risk back in 1849, moving into the “Golden State”. Her story is still in print . . . “A Frontier Lady”, by Sarah Royce . . . yep, she’s my great-great-grandmother . . . and the little girl, Mary, in that classic is my great-grandmother . . . a family of “risk-takers” . . . up to the present! But in this present discussion, we didn’t get this far by deliberately being stupid.

gadfly

(Bottom line, here, is that people that purchase and fly little jets are “real people”, with a need to carry a family into the next generation. We’re not just talking about a flying collection of rivets and “stir-fried-welds” and a pretty LCD display. Real “flesh-and-blood people need to be safely transported from “A” to “Z”, with a few stops between . . . and somehow the humor and sales gimmicks wear mighty thin.)

mountainhigh said...

Airtaxi,

Yes, there is enough engineering talent to build a low cost, quality jet without having to budget $150 mil for redesign (as Baron and Whytech put forward).
-----
Gee – it appears we haven’t learned anything in over one hundred years of aviation. Flashback to 1903 folks. The US government funded Langley to a tune of $50,000 to build a plane. His efforts were a complete failure. Meanwhile two bicycle mechanics spent less than $2,500 – 1/25 of the money given to Langley – and not only built the first airplane but their engineering was the cornerstone for future aviation work. But because they were not prominent, well known individuals, they were completely ignored. In fact, even after hundreds of flights and continual inquiries from witnesses, the Dayton Press refused to provide them any recognition. According to the Dayton Press, there were other prominent people flying around the Eiffel tower in hot air balloons.

Funny how in retrospect everyone now admits that Langley didn’t have the smarts or technical know how to build a flying aircraft. However, in the past 100+ years nothing has really changed. The financial types still flock to the big names irrespective of their past proven record of designing and building a plane.

There are the Orville’s and Wilbur’s around – they not only exist but also have proven track record of jet aircraft development. In fact, they actually pioneered the market long before Vern/Eclipse appeared on the scene and clearly demonstrated that a plane can be built correctly the first time. They have decided not to play in the current investor sandbox because investors still have the same mindset that existed a 100 years ago. Investors and customers will always prefer the Langley’s over the Wright’s because they focus on name recognition rather than product development capability.

airtaximan said...

MH,

point is, no matter what you spend your time and money on in this industry, it better have a sound business case, based on a market that is realistic, regarding volume and price. You need the right plane, and also the right people to design and certify it, let alone manufacture it.

These guys are dead in the water - no market for the little plane to justify the high volume and forward price.

I like the Langley example: do you know how much money the government has blown over the last 20 years fundng technology for THIS market?

Left up to industry, Vern probably would have been stuck with the FJ33, and produced a better plane.

There's been a load of BS foisted on the US government by NASA on this stuff, resulting in the same lack of success you refer to with Langley.

... all in the name of disruptive technology.. its been 20 years, 10 for VErn alone... where's the disruption in the industry - I mean the good one, resulting from the GAAP and AGATE programs?

gadfly said...

mountainhigh

Your comments about the two builders of bicycles are a breath of fresh air. So much can be said about these two honest gentlemen . . . history proves their true worth.

They built flying machines based on their careful study of aerodynamics, basic honesty ("lacking" in the present scenario), and "common sense" (not common in the present item of discussion) . . . probably even more important than the actual "Wright Flyer", itself.

Thanks!

gadfly

(And they never put others at financial risk in their efforts.)

1 AVI8OR said...

This is my first post on this blog but, I have been following it for over a year. Fascinating group of individuals and opinions.

During a 135 conformity check yesterday, our Principal Avionics Inspector mentioned that he has been away a lot recently because he is also an Avionics Inspector for DayJet.

I was all ears, since reading all the posts on the topic here. In his words "they are flying a lot, and I mean a LOT. They have like fifty planes now."

What is not clear to me is the definition of a lot, training, revenue flights or what? I can see that looking after 50 planes from the FAA's point of view is a huge job but, are they making any money out there yet?

We will see how this unfolds, will let everyone know if I find out anything about the Avio/AvioNG situation.

1 AVI8OR

bill e. goat said...

Welcome 1avi8or,

Your timing is impeccable!
I was just getting ready to ask our chum 9Z, about Dayjet.

From the FAA registration database, it shows 28 or so Eclipsish planes registered to DJ. I've seen the comments that the registration database lags by some number of weeks, but still it seems like a jump from 28 to 65 is... DISRUPTIVE !! (ah, sorry about that:)

It also makes me nervous about my prediction that Dayjet will never exceed 50 airplanes.

Not that I have ill will against them- I hope they are successful, at whatever number it takes, I just haven't seen it a viable market.

Which, makes me sort of, a DayJetCritic. (If the exceed 50 airplanes, I'll change that to DayJetCriticNG, I suppose...:)

As 1avi8or mentions, Dayjet has lots of airplanes, but do they have any of that other stuff that most business find more lucrative than inventory, or volume: PROFIT ??

It is stunning to me how much Eclipse and DayJet mirror each other: both run by .com/IT types, with no experience in their current industry, both “going big”; banking (so to speak) on a home run, rather than building on incremental successes.

By comparison with all other aviation startups, the delays and cash burn at Eclipse should have spelled doom years ago. But yet they are still in business. Are the mounting losses the equivalent of a gathering avalanche of debt, that will sweep the company to oblivion (or, Siberia, take your pick).

Okay, maybe it's not in Siberia:
Ulyanovsk

My point is, Eclipse seems to be accumulating insurmountable losses. But, I thought the same thing several years ago.

And, I suspect DayJet is in the exact same situation. As others have said, “we'll make up for unit losses by using high volume”.

I think the technical aspects of Eclipse are not too disruptive, it is a nice airplane, still under design; make that redesign, or rather re-re-design, in some aspects (ice protection and avionics come to mind).

But the business plans of both Eclipse and DayJet make their co-evolution (perhaps co-concoction is a better term:) a fascinating story to continue to watch.
----------------------------
FC and 9Z, could you please post the link to the "build in progress" FAA web site- thanks.

Copernicus said...

Moriaty has been posting Dayjet hours on vljplanet each week. It has been pretty steady at 100 hr per week for the fleet, with a high of 150. Most recent week not yet posted. A nice number for profitability would be 15 he per week per airplane so if they really have 50 the hours will need to get to 750. I could be off on this but not by a factor of 7.

bill e. goat said...

Exeac,
(from previous thread):
"AC Supplier conference is scheduled for Wednesday (Mar 05)".

Goat:
Exeac, we're anxious to any news (re: some previous discussion about Eclipse being delinquent to some degree).
-----------------------------
Shane,
(discussing apparent slowdown of DeliveriesNG)

"1. Supplier reluctance to continue delivery of parts without payment on overdue accounts.

"2. Avio NG delays, with a decision down ABQ way to hold back on shipping further aircraft that would have to return for modification in the short term.

"3. Customers insisting that the won't take delivery (NG or otherwise) until key benchmarks (FIKI etc) are met. I'm not talking about the private buyer, but Ed and his merry band of airtaximen, who are the 'official' volume purchasers".

Goat:
Shane, I think you are right on all three scores there:

1. In particular, I have been curious about the arrangement with P&W: are they "partners" on this, or merely suppliers (as the later, I would expect them to be less "understanding" about late payments).

2.Avio NG delays. I have to admit, I found it interesting that there were 134 shipsets of Avio-1st Gen (egad, sounds like StarTrek stuff:). I think our bud E0387 provided that detail sometime back. Perhaps, as I believe he suggested, a fixed number of that 134 was reserved for spares, perhaps with failure rates and stockpiling for the next year or so, it reduced the number of sets to 104, which might have been what drove the Avio-NG cut in, perhaps prematurely?

(Although Avio-NG is Certified-NG. Hey, I'm starting to get the hang of this :).

3.I suspect if Big Ed's flying limo service really had the demand, they'd take the airplanes, even in their present state. Perhaps, DayJet anticipated delivery schedule is slipping due to cash flow problems at Dayjet?, which might be affecting production rates at Eclipse?

It sure seems that if there are really 600 or so private orders (plus 200 or so DayJet orders), those 600 guys would be clamoring for their airplanes- although as you suggest, they might be willing to wait (ha ha ha- I didn't mean that the way it came out) until the airplane is finished (oh, there I go again:).

Seriously, I think a bigger concern might be the reluctance of those 600 individuals to mail in progress payments, based on Eclipse's fantastically optimistic delivery schedules, and perhaps also, due to some growing concern about a possible bankruptcy??
-----------------------------
Copernicus,
Thanks for the tip on VLJPlanet. Moriarty is providing some interesting DayJet numbers there (as FC does for us about Eclipse numbers here).

1 AVI8OR said...

Copernicus,

Out of 100-150 hours for the WHOLE fleet (rumored at 50), how much of it is training and how much is actual trips for customers? I also wonder why would they take deliveries so fast?

Copernicus said...

I can only repeat Moriarty"s observations. He assumed that round trip flights were training. These were as much as a third at first and then much less lately and he theorized that most pilots were trained by now. Last week's numbers now posted and are the lowest yet--62. Now the interest on 50 airplanes plus the rest of the capital spent must be around $100,000 per week, so it's hard to see covering this by flying 60 hours. Remember also, it isn't charter where you get a definite amount per hour, like maybe $1500. Rather it's per seat so some of the hours may be flown by one passenger paying a few hundred dollars for an hour or more of flying.

All this Dayjet discussion and analysis makes one wonder about the Pogo public offering which is going forward shortly as a Dutch auction. Are there enough people who could read Moriarty's Dayjet numbers and still put up $70 million for Pogo? Wouldn't you think that prospective investors and Bob Crandall fans (and maybe Bob himself) would say, "Hang on a minute, maybe we better let the Dayjet experiment run another 6 months or so and analyze their results before we throw $70 million at starting a business based on carrying lots of people around on hundreds of Eclipse Jets.

airtaximan said...

"Are there enough people who could read Moriarty's Dayjet numbers and still put up $70 million for Pogo?"

...Anyone they can convince the northeast is a better place to do this than Florida, and that regular charter versus per-seat is more viable.

I also hear they are talking about doing it as a franchise like McDonalds... anything to see investors on the idea. Its going to be fun watching Crandall make a case for selling franchises... I'm sure pilots are going to love him.

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

If Boeing/GE manufacture auto throttles that fail on the 777,what are the chances that Eclipse gets it right the FIRST time? I feel that Avio- whatever will ultimately be the worst decision Eclipse made, and that is saying something. But for ex- Microsoft types who are used to operating a monopoly, customers that have trouble with there OS can just reboot until Microsoft decides to sell them something better. I don't think that method of operating will sell in aviation,there are to many other choices. Has anybody else noticed a marked increase in email's offering new,used or positions for Jets? There might be a tough sales market developing for Eclipse/Dayjet if the economy tanks.

Copernicus said...

Dayjet and Pogo

Remember that Dayjet is perfectly happy to sell the whole airplane so if charter were going to be disruptively successful, Dayjet should provide a valid indication. While the business models are a bit different, they are essentially the same: flying people around in the world of GA convience in the economical, revolutionary Eclipse jet. It's hard to see one running at 10% of its breakeven volume and the other succeeding. In any case, if Pogo style charter were destined for success and the whole Dayport idea was floundering, one would see a pretty quick morph of tactics from Dayjet, I imagine

airtaximan said...

copernicus,

OK, so they wont have you to convince... you know too much!

only play for Pogo is to differentiate from Dayjet.

going to be a stretch... especially with you around

uglytruth said...

Hi, I worked at Eclipse for a short while as a contractor thru another company. Keep in mind I didn’t leave my home and live in a motel to cause any trouble. Why am I writing this…….well it’s just the way I am, and part of my job was to help production on the floor with tooling and ideas to help build the planes faster. I feel I am letting the hard working guys on the floor down. It does not seem to bother in the least the egotistical, arrogant people in the middle of the company that are.

How Eclipse ever got to where it is today…..I have no idea. It was all before I was there. I have worked in manufacturing all my life and was shocked at what I saw when I first got there and as time went by and I started looking into the corners…..it got so much worse and things didn’t add up really fast.

On my 4th day I went to check on some tools that had been ordered 3-4 times sense June that the men on the floor needed. This was Aug 23rd…..3 months and no tools. I found the tools and got them in less than a week. Darlene Black was out for 2 days and I think Lee helped me. Monday when Darleen got back she sent me an email saying that everything should go thru her. I should not call vendors and to never call her suppliers again. I sent her back an email saying that “my boss expects answers not excuses”. She sent that email to her boss (Terry Riggins?) and he sent me an email telling me a bunch of SCM (supply chain management) stuff and how important they were. Then he sent me an email asking me to call him. I did. I told him what went on and he said I went through the correct channels. Then I asked him how he could have open PO’s for 3 months and they are not followed up with. He gave me some weak excuses then I told him SCM (Supply means to get the needed tools for the shop) Chain (Chain means to work with production and the supplier) and Management (Management means to oversee, follow up, be responsible for) getting the requested tooling. Lets just say he stammered, hemmed and hawwed and had no response worth listening to.

Next on the list was position 2 had ordered some air tools Aug 1st. I was told by Todd Fierro to see Ric Shepard about getting the needed supplies. I went over and talked to Ric, introduced myself and asked where the tools were. He told me if I ever send and email like that again he would personally take my badge and walk me off the property. He told me I needed to see….. and I stopped him. He had proven himself an ass in less than 3 sentences. I told him that’s the whole story here. I need to go see this guy that sends me to see that guy and I spend all my time running around following up on things HE should have already been on top of. He’s in charge of purchasing and he should be able to find out where the items were. He didn’t like it but said he would let me know in a half hour. I called him back 2-3 hrs later that afternoon when an employee asked me what was going on with the tools and he laughed. He stammered and said he had someone working on it. Two days later he handed me a paper at the 4:30 meeting and walked past me. The paper said tools would be here in 2 days. He would not make eye contact or acknowledge me in any way.

Why is purchasing so protective? Secretive? Independent but unaccountable? Things are not adding up fast…….makes one wonder……..something just don’t smell right…….no it stinks.

I was in a meeting about Kitting and I had an idea about moving all the racks of drills and tooling to one location. Everyone agreed. The bins were a mess. Hub was just dumping as much stuff as possible in them, you didn’t have many of the needed items and there was no control or organization to anything. Workers were walking all over searching for tools to do their jobs. We walked out of the meeting and Ken North and I walked up on the platform and looked down on the shop floor to see where the racks would be best located. He said wow he had never been up there and agreed that they and the shop were a mess. I said there were no checks and balances and the Hub people were just looking for any open place to put things so they could bill you for more ( I watched them over a few days) I said (the racks) were “a monument to the stupidity of purchasing or someone was dirty.” The subject came up a few times I was there and even Eclipse employees know something is not right. The next day my boss came up to me and asked what I had said about “payola”. I got a call that night that said that Ken told his boss who told his boss (the VP of purchasing….Bill ?) that they didn’t want me back. It’s a problem that needs to be looked into……something just don’t add up.

If not for the hard work and dedication from the experienced and life long dedicated aircraft mechanics, Eclipse would have been done a long time ago.

You have some great experienced people on the floor working hard. Doing the best with what they have to work with. Lots of new people making mistakes and making them work even harder, leading to higher turnover. Lots of the experienced mechanics leaving as they can see the writing on the wall. Lots of people at the very top working hard. Lots of bloating, arrogance, ego’s and incompetence in the middle, not supporting production, making the needed manufacturing or engineering changes, checking quality from suppliers, holding suppliers responsible or accountable, being responsive to problems, doing their jobs or just plain knowing what the hell they are doing. They are all very protective of their little positions. Eclipse has created their own problems. The quality / planning / tooling / supplier relations should have them at AC08 and still working out bugs! Someone really didn’t do their homework, and the ego’s won’t admit they need changes, but they keep pushing ahead. But it can’t go on forever.

The failure of Eclipse won’t be because of the mechanics or the very top...it will because of the embedded bureaucracy of the “morons in the middle” (there are exceptions). A lot of them have come from Intel and just don’t understand manufacturing…..along with the designers that used crayons to design the AC.

FreedomsJamtarts said...

Hey quick, somebody get Mirage00 or Ken to explain to Uglytruth that he is a hurt, twisted, ex-employee who obviously has no clue of his job and thank the Vern that he was fired.

Shame your presence prevented known icing certification Uglytruth. Now that you are gone, FIKI will be certified on Tuesday.

Not only is it clear that experienced aviation engineers are a major PITA if you are trying to design and certify a plane, experience production guys like Uglytruth just plane get in the way of volume production.

I remain amused...

Actually being a critic was boring, It is a lot more fun using my imagination as one of the faithful. Reality is what you make it... in Never never land and ABQ if you just believe, then you (and your eclipse) can fly.

bill e. goat said...

(??...it is called the "Land of Enchantment"... :)

Gunner said...

uglytruth-
Welcome and thanks very much for the insight. We've glimpsed this side of Eclipse before and each time The Faithful have attacked the messenger rather than the message.

But the message continues to be pretty consistent: the operation in ABQ, for whatever reason, seems to be focused on something other than completing a promised aircraft.

I think you give too much credit to the top. Organizations do not develop a culture of waste without it coming from the top; or, at least, not without those at the top taking their hands off the wheel.

Bureaucratic middle management results generally from two sources:
1) Top Management hired far too much middle management to begin with; managers, with little to do, begin to feed off other managers' and fiefdoms are the result.

2) Top Management is incapable of creating a team whose common vision is the production of a bomb-proof, completed design.

Bureaucrats will always do what bureaucrats do....that's their nature and role. But they can't do it unless Executive Management hires them, signs their paychecks and fosters a culture in which they thrive.

Eclipse is hardly a large organization. Talented upper management could get hold of it in about 3 months.
Gunner

WhyTech said...

Gunner said:

"Talented upper management could get hold of it in about 3 months."

Begs for a large dose of leadership well applied. *Talented* upper management could get hold of it in 3 weeks!

WT

Gunner said...

WT-
The adjective was descriptive, not superfluous. Thanks for underscoring that point.

Those who can, do. Those who can't point fingers at their competition and then move to Russia.
Gunner

Shane said...

Uglytruth is one report amongst many.

There is a pattern here, and I am working (with others) on some really serious issues.

For anyone with further input, please contact the email address for the blog, eclipsecriticng@gmail.com

Shane

Productionman said...

Wow, I have been watching this blog for some time now from the sidelines but uglytruth's post is amazing. These problems will never be solved while upper management fails to gain control, or for that matter, knows what real leadership means. Fierro has been there about a year now and has not produced the highly anticipated production rate increases so ballyhooed back in the spring of 2007 when he was hired. Wasn't he supposed to be the wiz kid from Ford who was going to turn things around with production? Seems not. It was a lot easier in a big company like Ford where many marginal managers like Fierro could appear to produce results while really never accomplishing much more than keeping the plant lights on (we all know what has happened at Ford). Now in a small independent niche manufacturer his lack of genuine talent is obvious. They need to find someone who doesn’t need to hire outside production consultants to run the production operation – they should outsource him forthwith…

FlightCenter said...

Here are the FAA links. The first is what I call the "in process" website. It tracks document submissions to the FAA.

Both of these sites are usually updated by around 10AM on Monday mornings unless there is a holiday.

It will be interesting to see what they show tomorrow about DayJet.

Type in Eclipse in the Party Name field.

FAA REGISTRY
Document Index Inquiry


FAA Aircraft Registration Database

Niner Zulu said...

Uglytruth - thanks for the insider's view into Eclipse. Your comments echo what has been reported here before - that not all is well and good at Eclipse no matter how rosy of a picture the diehards try to paint.

It seems to me we are living in an age of delusion. The Nasdaq market bubble in 2000, the housing bubble, the subprime mess, Iraq, ethanol as a viable fuel source, VLJ's "darkening the skies", Dayjet turning a profit - all examples of mass delusion and people are actually surprised when the end result is a train wreck. Maybe America has just been dumbed-down for so long that there the majority can't think clearly - I can't figure out which but it appears the results are about the same.

Take Eclipse for example - does a person really need any more warning flags than we've seen already before they pull the plug on their purchase? It appears so! It will be 2 YEARS before many of the current owners will be able to fly in icing conditions. Assuming, of course, that Eclipse survives as a company and that is a long shot. That means some of the early owners will have owned their planes 3 years.

Speaking of delusional - is it really possible that there are so many jet buyers out there that are late to the VLJ party that EVERYONE who has a Mustang, Djet, or Embraer Phenom 100 can really get a premium on the resale of their position? Let's see - the world banking system is in a mess, fuel prices are headed to the moon, the world is going green - yup, sounds like the best investment I could make would be to buy a jet and hope that I can find someone to take it off my hands at $400,000 more than I paid for it.

Unbelievable.

David Wihl said...

"Speaking of delusional - is it really possible that there are so many jet buyers out there that are late to the VLJ party that EVERYONE who has a Mustang, Djet, or Embraer Phenom 100 can really get a premium on the resale of their position?"

Obviously everyone who has a position will not make money on it, nor do I think a $400k Mustang premium is sustainable. However, there is a pretty good probability that most people with positions in a reliable company with a reliable airframe (Mustang, Phenom, not DJet) can make some premium if they wanted to sell. Why? 1) These luxury purchases tend to be resilient to economic fluctuations. Much of the housing market may be a mess but here in the Northeast, homes above $1M are still selling for more than they did last year and still have a limited inventory. 2) Cessna and Embraer keep raising the base price, so an older position appreciates. 3) If you place a new order, you move to the back of the delivery line, whereas purchasing a position can get you the plane earlier which is worth a premium to some buyers. 4) Unlike Eclipse, Cessna and Embraer have language in their contracts to avoid massive position speculators, so there isn't a huge aftermarket driving premiums down. The P100 is a little more vulnerable here due to some fleet sales. 5) In the case of a 2008 delivery, which is readily available in the Mustang but uncertain for the P100, there are the new accelerated depreciation tax advantages which may be attractive to some buyers and therefore also increase the premium.

BTW, see my blog if you want a detailed comparison of the Mustang and P100.

fred said...

niner ...

it is loss of illusions ...!

it is something widely studied by sociologist as something called "mass effects" ...

very simple to understand (and verified many times into history)

you take a very bright personn , you can explain them about anything ...
you put 2 of the same cleverness , it is already a bit harder to explain them anything ...

if you try with 3 , it becomes nearly impossible ...

at 4 and upwards , mass effects means "ideas and beliefs" are so simplified that they becomes absolutely worthless of any meanning ...!

what you state as delussions is nothing more than what most looking to hear... everybody wants to be famous , rich and succesfull , when you understand this , it is easy to know that the way to get what you want is either to work extremly and rely on that little piece of luck that makes all difference ...

or to say to others what they want to hear ...!

in the case of E500 and EAC =
it is only a matter of something whih has been designed for a single market (USA) for a single type of owners (Mr iknoweverything ) marketed as something easy and affordable where it CANNOT exist as such !

it is a fact : the world is changing ... what used to be the rule for the last 50 years is dying ... it is only a matter of getting real now or to try to hang-on illusions a little more ...!

the result will be the same , only the final outcome will change =

do you want to be ready

or

would you prefer to be badly surprised ?

only a matter of choice !

Turboprop_pilot said...

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Besieged subprime lender Countrywide Financial Corp. is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for possible securities fraud, according to a news report Saturday.
The Wall Street Journal report said the probe focuses on whether Countrywide's management misrepresented the quality of its mortgages in routine securities filings, which may have led investors to overvalue the loans it then securitized into more than $100 billion worth investment vehicles between 2004 and 2007.

The Calabasas, Calif-based lender is already facing multiple lawsuits in several states regarding its origination and foreclosure policies. A separate class action lawsuit filed by a consortium of government pension funds has accused Countrywide of behavior similar to that reportedly being investigated by the FBI.
A filing in that lawsuit says the lender "misled investors by falsely representing that Countrywide had strict and selective underwriting and loan origination practices, ample liquidity that would not be jeopardized by negative changes in the credit and housing markets, and a conservative approach that set it apart from other mortgage lenders."

Parody:

In separate but similar news, a disgruntled group of Disruptive Aircraft Company order holders finally filed a class action lawsuit in Albuquerque, Mexico. A portion of the filing in that lawsuit says the aircraft builder: “mislead order holders with false production ramp schedules, false stories of readiness of aircraft systems, false dates when missing promises would be completed and false promises of adequate liquidity to design, certify and build complete aircraft meeting promised specifications. These misstatements were purposefully done to 1) require order holders to make large deposits (on the order of $600,000- equivalent to many home purchases) far in advance of any reasonable expectation of delivery, 2) these deposits were not used for the customer’s aircraft but to provide operating funds for the company, and 3) pushed incomplete non-conforming aircraft out the door to receive the rest of the purchase price of the aircraft.” Discovery is expected to find voluminous e mails documenting the extent of senior management’s knowledge of these misstatements.

A couple of very sad looking northern charter operators were heard to say “We bought the damn planes and find that the few days they are not grounded by forecast icing and there are customers who’ll pay a premium for small, cramped quarters, we can only do one way charters as icing forecasts ground them at the destination for weeks. Even the tiny passengers find this a little disruptive.”

A doctor with a South African accent was heard saying: “ Thank God for my wife’s Mustang, else we could not have made it here for this sad but finally truthful day.”

Turboprop_pilot

bill e. goat said...

Productionman,

“These problems will never be solved while upper management fails to gain control, or for that matter, knows what real leadership means. Fierro has been there about a year now and has not produced the highly anticipated production rate increases so ballyhooed back in the spring of 2007 when he was hired. Wasn't he supposed to be the wiz kid from Ford who was going to turn things around with production?”

Goat:
I wouldn't be so hard on Fierro- I don't know him, or his track record, but I assume he had a good report from Ford Mo Co. The below-target production rate at Eclipse brings to mind three things:

1) Whoever hired an automotive production expert to run an airplane production line, was CLUELESS about the business of building airplanes.

2) Therefore, what's needed is a REPLACMENT of whoever hired Fierro, and maybe, or maybe not, Fierro himself.

3) The current production rate is really pretty good, especially for a “startup”, at 15+ per month for a FAR-23 jet, 15 months after TC. (No excuses from me regarding taking 10 years to get there though).

What miffs me is the continued drum-pounding to "build more, build faster". I just don't think Eclipse upper management understands building airplanes is not the same as building, well, about anything else.

(Yachts, maybe, except yachts don't require the FAA process documentation).
------------------------------

FC,
Thanks for the links to the “in process” web site.
------------------------------

9Z,
I agree. I'm not sure when a “bubble” becomes a “scam”. I still don't (um, quite:) think Eclipse is a scam, but...I think we'll see, whether or not they fold up the US operation once the Russian production line comes up.

WhyTech said...

9Z said:
Speaking of delusional - is it really possible that there are so many jet buyers out there that are late to the VLJ party that EVERYONE who has a Mustang, Djet, or Embraer Phenom 100 can really get a premium on the resale of their position? "

Delusional is the right word for it, and its is by no means limited to VLJ's. I have been shopping around for a Bell 407 helicopter position and have found several where the asking price for the position is in the range of $800K to $1mm. This is against a base price for the helo of $2.4mm. Madness!

Hard to know for sure, but with the scenario that 9Z describes, the day may be coming in which position holders pay you to take on the responsibility.

Copernicus said...

Parody of Class Action

That is an obvious thought pattern that may be occuring to long suffering deposit holders, but since they are at the end of the line of unsecured creditors, what would be the point? No blood to be had from a turnip, right?

I wonder more about the possibility of a negligence suit if there should be an accident. With all the "IOUs", isn't there a tacit admission that the product is defective? How could a company knowingly, openly, put forward a defective product? I can not imagine the legal department at Textron, General Dynamics, etc. permitting such a thing, even if the marketing or production department wanted. What are EACs liability insurers thinking?

Am I missing something here?

Black Tulip said...

This may be the longest running adaptation of The Emperor’s New Clothes. A stakeholder dares not speak the truth, fearing persecution from The Emperor and other stakeholders. In the original fairy tale, a small boy utters the truth and reality sets in to the crowd.

bill e. goat said...

Copernicus,
I think Eclipse is covered, despite the IOU's, by the fact the FAA granted them TC.

If there is an accident, heaven forbid, it seems like the FAA are the ones who will have some explaining to do.

There was some discussion months ago about the fact that:
1) Yes, the FAA workers filed a grievance regarding Eclipse
2) But, the FAA workers filed 10,000 grievances that year.

I was shocked at the disconnect there- the controllers are the ones filing tons of grievances, I won't go into that.

The fact FAA certification personnel filed a grievance is unprecidented, to my knowledge.

The fact Eclipse got TWO FAA inspectors booted out, is also unprecidented to my knowledge.

The fact inspectors "are not allowed to look at XXX", is also unprecidented, to my knowledge.

Very disruptive stuff, indeed.

airsafetyman said...

And Ms. Marion Blakely, the head of the FAA while all this horsemanure was going on, and who pencil-whipped the TC herself, has bailed.

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

Uglytruth:

Since you’ve disparaged the reputation of former co-workers, in the words of Samuel L. Jackson from Pulp Fiction.

“Well, allow me to retort”

To start, I’ve worked my ENTIRE career in AEROSPACE manufacturing. I’ve been a lowly planner a Sr. Manager, and everything in-between. Does this make me an expert, no, but it gives me a very good base to start and discuss from.

Basically, working a short time at Eclipse makes you an expert on their issues and problems? You walk up to the Director of Supply Chain and DEMAND something? More than likely the response you got was based on your approach. I have worked with this person for over 2 years and ALWAYS got top-notch support from him. If there was an issue, I knew the details and had the respect to try and work with him and the group to understand what was going on. Remember, they don’t run the vendors, in most cases they are at the mercy of the Vendor’s performance. Should some of Eclipse’s current and former vendors never been chosen? I would say yes, but hind-sight is always 20/20.

While at a previous company (Sr. Manager role), I was explicitly told by the VP of SCM not to contact a vendor that was two blocks away. They obviously had something to hide as you insinuated. Maybe the kickback from the contact was in jeopardy, no it must have been the free lunches and trips?
I got it. The friend of the VP’s wife must somehow be involved?
Instead of ranting and raving, and sending off inflammatory E-mails, what did I do? I discussed the issue with the V.P., asked why he didn’t want me to contact them, and ALSO under what circumstances I could contact the Vendor.
In reality, I didn’t know the details of the contract and what had been agreed to. In this case, what I was asking wasn’t allowed by the stipulations in the contract.

A final thought on the tooling you couldn’t get. I am curious what type of tool it was. I don’t know if you’ve ever set up a consignment or lease arrangement on tools, I have, and it’s more of a Magic 8 ball assignment. It’s a giant SWAG, and is constantly scrutinized for changes. The one I set up had a 6-month, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 year look-ahead. We reviewed the delivery schedule every 3 months for changes. Why you may ask? Because the leasing companies are also at the mercy of vendors. The lead time of a Huck gun is 16 weeks, that’s just the gun, the head is a tad bit shorter. The way the industry is now, everyone is asking for the same tools. Maybe the reason the tool took so long, was because it wasn’t available. I’m curious, did you even ask what the issue was?

There seems to be the stance that every little nuance with Eclipse is magnified and expanded to make it a HUGE issue. They have problems, I personally know that and have been involved with some of them. Thing is, walk into Boeing, Lockheed, Airbus, NGC, BAE and others, guess what? You’ll find the same issues. I was thrilled that Eclipse was going to try things differently, to break the mold of the Aerospace Arrogance, unfortunately it hasn’t quite panned out. Are they bad and evil and a blight on the entire industry? Vern’s ranting aside, only the future will give us the answer.

BTW – “Engineers with Crayons”, a childish comment like that doesn’t deserve a response.

PubGrubber

Shane said...

Uglytruth, Pub Grubber,

I would be careful about getting much further into a discussion about this person or that person who works (or worked) for EAC. A bit of common sense should apply, as well as fair play for people who, after all, 'were only following orders'.

And yes, Pubgrubber, 'engineers with crayons' is childish.

Funny, though....

Shane

airsafetyman said...

"While at a previous company (Sr. Manager role), I was explicitly told by the VP of SCM not to contact a vendor that was two blocks away. They obviously had something to hide as you insinuated."

You should have gone to the president of the company. What's your integrity worth?

Gunner said...

ASM-
Look at Pubgrubber's entire post. He was being facetious about the "something to hide" comment. In the end, he accomplished the goal.....his way.

His style is obviously different from UT's. I'm not going to weigh in as to whose path was "correct" or even righteous. I wasn't there.

NZ, WhyTech and Fred-
I don't know that I agree with the sky-is-falling view of investors, though I do agree the US economy is on the verge of shambles. What has Eclipse proven?

Has it demonstrated that 2,700 individuals can be fleeced out of their money and told to "shut up and like it"? Nope. The Order Book is fictitious and stagnant.

Has it demonstrated that the Markets will flood money into a loser idea? Nope. Once they ran thru the investment of a few wealthy individuals, they fell flat in their pitch to more mainstream investors and had to go "offshore"....wayyyy offshore".

Have they proven that a Public Offering is in the cards for every fly-by-night with a spreadsheet? Quite the opposite.

What have DayJet and LineAir (sp) proven about market intelligence regarding VLJ's? How about ISSC?

I just don't see the investment glass half full in these cases. The Markets are doing what efficient Markets do. They're rejecting hype. It just takes them a bit to do so.
Gunner

Niner Zulu said...

David,
I did look at your blog comparison of the Mustang vs Phenom 100 and I though it was excellent. Beyond excellent, even. I've bookmarked the page so I can return to it again. Well done!

That being said, I have to disagree with you on a couple of points:
1) mfrs raising prices. Yes, they are all doing it, partially due to inflation and partially because they think they can. But I remember 1991-96 when airplane manufacturers were practically giving airplanes to get you to buy them. 10% discount off list, free fuel, free maintenance...and come to think of it I believe housing prices were dropping right around that time too. Not saying that there is a correlation there, but general aviation has been on a tear since about 1998 or so. Parties don't go on forever, eventually they end. I think the days where my gardener is able to drive a nicer car than me are about to end. People are no longer able to use their house equity as an ATM machine, and the effects are felt by everyone. At some point (2010-11?) I think we're going to see mfr's discounting their aircraft in order to move them. Just my opinion.
2) I believe history shows that luxury items including boats, jets, etc. are the FIRST thing to drop in an economic downturn. I wouldn't bet that prices won't drop - too many choices and too few buyers = huge price drop.
3) house prices have already dropped big time. The million + range is not immune to the decrease. Ask me, I know :-(. The only reason more haven't dropped is because they haven't tried to sell. After a bubble the magnitude of what we've seen in housing, I believe prices will back to the mean and take a decade to recover. Look at the Nasdaq in 2000 for example. Here we are, 8 years later and it's only a third of the high that it reached at the top of the bubble.

Anyway, just my opinion but I think the really good days for jet buyers are ahead. No need to jump on anything yet unless you really need to have it now.

airtaximan said...

Pub,

I think you are basically right in your comments.

The little examples cited, the one's that you would see at Boeing as well, do not result in missing production projections by years, and hundreds and hundreds of planes... a missing tool, could not really result in this.

What does?

FlightCenter said...

For the second week in a row, the FAA "in process" website shows no activity from Eclipse.

The FAA website technical support folks claim that they are having technical problems with their document website. No word on when the problems will be fixed.

So reverting to back up plan.

The FAA registry database does show activity in the last couple of weeks. Please remember that this database does have a lag - usually measured in weeks.

However, there is something new in the registry database to think about.

It shows 131 aircraft listed with a certificate issue date. Normally, that would mean that Eclipse had delivered 131 aircraft (minus a couple demo aircraft here or there).

The new thing in the database is that up until recently, whenever the database showed a certificate issue date it also showed the new name of the registrant (the new owner's name).

Well, we now have 18 aircraft which are listed with a certificate issue date, but are still registered to Eclipse!

Anyone here have some eyes on the ramp at ABQ? Are there 18 aircraft sitting on the flight line, waiting to be delivered?

On the DayJet front, there are no new aircraft registered to DayJet listed in the FAA registry database, nor are there any more N numbers ending in DJ listed...

Has anyone seen new aircraft arriving in Florida?

If so, post the N numbers and we'll try to figure out where the cracks are in the databases.

PubGrubber said...

AirSafetyMan

As Gunner pointed out, a little backhanded comment to make a point. Everything was above board, my integrity means more to me than a job. Just tried to make the post entertaining.

AirTaxiMan

Two points to start the discussion.

(1) Has Eclips actually been able to build an airplane from start to finish as designed and planned. No part shortages, no NCR’s, no engineering changes, no “tweaks” with the assembly sequence. To me this is crucial to understanding what the capabilities of the assembly line are, and where to “attack” first to improve the sequencing. Based on what I’ve seen and heard, I would have to say no. They have no baseline data to start with, so all changes/tweaks may be making things worse then better. Before they can ever hope to achieve any stable rate, the need to understand what they can actually do.

(2) One needs to look at how Eclips developed the business model to get investors in. They se a B/E point at just over 500 s/s per year. I will guarantee you they have Excel spreadsheets showing how incredibly simple this is. X amount of Employees multiplied by X amount of hours per shift/day/week, divided by # of hours per aiplane and Hey, 3 a day is a piece of cake. One thing to note, and here’s the downfall. All hours are a SWAG and in some cases Mandated. You will build this airplane for 800 hours, that’s all you get. These are not based on experience with the product (see item 1), but the mentality and thought process of people who think this is how it works. You give them an incredibly aggressive goal, and think that shame/abuse will get it there. I have seen and experienced this more than once, so I understand where the push is coming from. In most cases, it’s not the Executive team but higher. The people who put up the dollars on grandiose promises at the root of it, may not understand how difficult it is to build an airplane.

PubGrubber

Gunner said...

Pubgrubber said:
"I understand where the push is coming from. In most cases, it’s not the Executive team but higher. The people who put up the dollars on grandiose promises at the root of it"

Can't blame the investors for demanding what they were promised by Executive Management.

If there's a major Goat Screw (sorry Bill) going on in ABQ, all roads lead straight back to the corner office.
Gunner

David Wihl said...

9Z,

Thanks for the kind words about the blog.

One other factor influencing premiums for positions, especially in the case of the Mustang, is international sales. More than 50% of Mustangs are sold outside the US, which is something relatively new for Cessna. With a weak dollar, the pricing is attractive.

In any case, we are in violent agreement that the days of $400k premiums will be over soon if they aren't already. In previous slowdowns, Cessna cut production (and threw in some incentives) but did not reduce prices.

As for real estate, see this . It's a little dated, but it hasn't changed much in this segment / geography.

ExEAC said...

Not much was said at the supplier conference that we didn't already know. I know that suppliers were still griping about not getting paid. Word has it that this trend will continue. EAC stated they must build 450 AC this year and if they do not it will be the suppliers fault. Hmmm, EAC doesn't pay and parts for 450 AC don't show up. I wonder how that's the suppliers fault.

PubGrubber said...

Gunner

I see your point, but it has to go both ways. The corner office and others spouted numbers that were almost too good to be true, and the Investor's believed it.
At some point however; the investors should have seen the light and started questioning the validity of the numbers being displayed. These (I would hope) are smarter than average people, and would see that something isn't right. How many times would it take a mechanic telling you your car will be ready, and it's not, before you go down, take a hard look at the facts and draw your own conclusion. I think this is what happened in Colorado, the investor's believed the hype, saw reality and made their choice.

PubGrubber

Plastic_Planes said...

Pub Grubber said...

One needs to look at how Eclips developed the business model to get investors in. They se a B/E point at just over 500 s/s per year. I will guarantee you they have Excel spreadsheets showing how incredibly simple this is. X amount of Employees multiplied by X amount of hours per shift/day/week, divided by # of hours per aiplane and Hey, 3 a day is a piece of cake. One thing to note, and here’s the downfall. All hours are a SWAG and in some cases Mandated.

Oh so true. That's exactly how this whole thing came to be. The SCM team provided a cost breakpoint matrix for all the material associated with the A/C. Operations provided a labor model showing how many manhours would be needed per plane. Everything rolled up and BAM! (sorry Emeril) you have a business plan.

Only, the numbers don't come out quite the way you want. But that doesn't matter because the numbers have already been set by the financial model. You can't change those. Learning curves become complex hybrids, staffing plans go to weird shifts, parts flow sets the pace, and training becomes a never ending thing. Numbers aren't hit. Recalculations are done (except you can't change the answer!), and at the end of the day, you have a million reasons why it just doesn't add up.

I guess I am at fault here because I was a middle manager (who loved his crayons!) who was arrogant and egotistical who never spent time on the floor.... Wait a minute! I WAS on the floor! I did try to make things better for the techs, I did try to make my concerns known. I did try to take out the waste. And I got a beating when I did (figuratively, not literally).

At the end, the guys in middle management were just like the guys on the floor. We wanted to make it better for all and we wanted to do it right. We just couldn't get the support we needed. Some VP's worked well with us. Some less so. I think the blame falls on the COO and CEO, though, for allowing things to get where they are.

UglyTruth: You were there for a short time. Imagine how the folks feel that have been there for a long time. I didn't make it two years before I burned out. Some have been going on for 5 and 6 years. It takes a lot to put up with this and not just walk out the front door. Survival is probably becoming more of the word these days. You do what you have to.

And, as a friendly tip, try to learn the names of those you want to have help you. Rich really is one of the good guys!

Productionman: Todd was handed a half deck of cards (missing all 10's, facecards and aces). While he hasn't really impressed the critics (myself included), he was forced to work with the same set of assumptions as the rest of us. The math is still the same.

Anyway, YMMV. Just another "X" eclipser. It just isn't so simple as we'd like it to be. If it was, I'd have started my own A/C business a long time ago.

P_P

Gunner said...

PG said:
"At some point however; the investors should have seen the light and started questioning the validity of the numbers being displayed."

Oh, I think that's pretty much happened. The Mann Well has dried up. Mainstream VC funds have dried up. And the Company has continued to stick to the exact same production promises and business plan of five years ago. Little wonder that the Investors and Depositors demand that it perform under those promises. After all, they don't run the company.

Like I said, all roads lead back to the corner office.
Gunner

Plastic_Planes said...

Found this. It should probably be in an open letter to Vern. It fits well with what we have been talking about:

Today's Topic: The Responsibility of Being Our Leader

Even though we work for an organization, you are our leader. We don’t follow the company’s mission statement, senior management memos, annual reports, or what the stock market watchers say about us as much as we follow you. And, like it or not, you’re not only our leader but also a large part of our career success. Our job happiness depends on our relationship with you

Please don’t take this lightly. Sometimes we lie awake nights worrying about you and how you feel about things. We wonder why you pass us in the hall without even acknowledging our presence. We wonder why you take some of us behind closed doors while leaving others outside. As our leader, you influence all of us!

Believe it or not, we DO understand that leadership isn’t easy. We watch every day and see you assume incredible responsibilities. You’re accountable for your actions and for our actions, plus all the fiscal requirements, employee problems, feedback, training, technology changes, hiring, de-hiring, communicating, staff development, prioritizing, eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy, and much more. Your job is tough. But it is the job you chose.

What we ask of you is to accept responsibility for being the very best at your job so we can be the best at our jobs.

When you became a manager, supervisor, or team leader, the game changed. You’re now held to a higher level of accountability than before. In fact, everything you do is exaggerated; you are under a magnifying glass. And when you’re down, we’re down. When you’re up, we’re up. You set the tone…you shape the environment in which we can be successful.

Because of this, we expect more from you than from anyone else in our organization. And we need you to lead us without excuses.

The leadership you display and the decisions that you make contribute more to our success than all other factors combined.
--From www.walkthetalk.com

P_P

gadfly said...

Turbo

In your parody, you actually solved the great mystery. You can’t sue someone if you can’t find them. And suppliers can’t deliver to an address that doesn’t exist. More than that, you solved the problem here in Albuquerque . . . when you moved the whole thing down to “Mexico” . . . and they’re welcome to it!

gadfly

(Now, if you could do the same with our “governor”, we’d be most grateful!)

Turboprop_pilot said...

Gad:

We'll solve your problem of the governor with a new national Democratic ticket- President and 2 Vice Presidents- a woman, a black and a Hispanic- got all the bases covered and you can try to find an honest gov- good luck!

Turboprop_pilot

Black Tulip said...

Elliot Spitzer may soon get the advice that a move West would be good for his health... the curative powers of the sun and the high desert air. Perhaps he's the man to set Eclipse on a path to success.

airtaximan said...

pub,

my point exactly.

the whole thing is a cluster... right from the premise there's a huge market for THESE planes.

technology guys bit, hook line and sinker - technology would be the key to reducing the cost of the plane, and open up a huge market.

Forget not, this IS the big LIE.

High rate is the key to lower cost - the aerospace industry IS high tech. We did not need Vern Raburn to show us the way.

EJ22, FSW, AVIONG... all duds.

_They only served to raise money from Tech Guys... and look at Pieper - it STILL works!.. on some... with other's money?

Anyhow, a tool here and there, a SCM problem here and there - a gnat on an elephants ass... if you ask me.

The whole thing is a pooch-screwing the likes we've never seen in GA, yet. Billions!

EclipseOwner387 said...

*** OFF TOPIC ***

Whytech or FlightCenter,

Any word on a truly certified waas (LPV) gps for the Chelton? How are you liking your Chelton for your helicopter Whytech? I am still debating the right "glass" alternative and the options are limited. Aspen is not really an option for me as it will not directly drive my autopilot until a lot more certification work is done.

WhyTech said...

EO said:
"Any word on a truly certified waas (LPV) gps for the Chelton? How are you liking your Chelton for your helicopter Whytech? "

Word, yes; helicopter, no. I dont have my helicopter yet because Chelton has been slow to get the new version of software certified. This has just recently been done and deliveries are happening. Expecting delivery of the helicopter mid April.

At the Heli Expo trade show two weeks ago I attended a 3 hr briefing/training session conducted by Chelton's chief pilot and director of training (Nick Cain). He covered the "what's new" aspects of version 6.0B software, and also provided an update on the availability of the Beta 3 capable GPS receiver which is required to support LNAV/VNAV and LPV approaches. This receiver has been granted FAA TSO status, but must still be packaged and integrated, then certified as part of the Chelton system. Estimated date for this was "mid summer" but Chelton has been quite unreliable in their schedule estimates.

On the other hand, the new 6.0B softwate is a big step ahead and well worth the wait. I am very impressed with what I have seen so far, and it will be even better with the new GPS receiver. (And, I am not easily impressed.) So far, I believe that the Chelton system is amazingly capable and a great value for the price.

One other Chelton resource who has been able to get answers for me is Jim Huddock, their Eastern Region Sales Manager.

To make your life more complicated: a Chelton R&D guy was present at the briefing and let slip that a new generation system is in development. He declined to comment on availability, but my best guess is more than a year out, perhaps a lot more.

Hope this helps.

WT

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