Monday, March 31, 2008

"I was wrong", Vern Raburn admits

April 1, 2008, 8.50 PST.
From our special correspondent, Seamus Shillelagh

At a hastily convened press conference in Eclipse Aviation HQ, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Vern Raburn, CEO and Founder of Eclipse Aviation, spoke out today of his frustration and shock at recent events. “During our cash call late last year, I was misled by my advisors into thinking that ETRIC was actually EPIC. I only realized the error when I went to a meeting recently and noticed the number of fuel stops. When I asked the pilot why, I found out we were flying over Russia instead of Oregon. This could not have happened with AvioNG, which of course will have integrated navigation and FMS, but won't be ready until Tuesday.”

Captain Zoom, recently promoted to Head of Corporate PR for Eclipse, was quick to point out that it was an honest mistake. “From FL150, which we were restricted to by lack of FIKI, central Russia looks very like parts of Oregon, and when we finaly landed we were met by people whom we could not quite understand. This seemed normal to me, but then the penny dropped when we went for a meal. That soup was something else…”

Mr. Raburn, well known for his outspoken views on many aspects of the VLJ market, continued to complain about his bad luck. “When I confirmed that ETRIC was not in fact EPIC, I called my lawyers immediately, informing them of their mistake and seeking an arbitration meeting. What upset me most was that the real benefits of a merger with EPIC were clear to me, and would have resulted in us getting access to the Williams EJ-22 for our ConJet” At this point, Captain Zoom interjected to remind Vern that he should have said ‘Concept Jet’, but we all understood what was meant. Vern continued, “The other big plus with this would have been EPIC’s experience with composite structures which are clearly the way to mass produce airframes in a cost effective manner. Stir frying (Friction Stir Welding, reminded Captain Zoom) has not delivered and we are in the process of finding someone to sue”

A noted critic of Eclipse, known to his supporters as ‘Black Tulip,’ interjected from the floor to point out that Eclipse were, in fact, the main supporters of FSW in aviation, whereupon he was promptly ejected from the hall.

At this point, a number of disgruntled customers, sensing their opportunity and ably supported by groups of suppliers and staff, rushed the entrance to gain access. As the protestors, carrying placards and handing out leaflets to the 5 of us journalists who had turned up, entered the conference broke up in disarray. The press ‘pack’, considerably outnumbered by the angry mob, retreated to the safety of a local bar, from where (after several calming pints of Guinness) this report was filed.


FreedomsJamtarts said...

I will be interesting to see what Flight Center statistics show this month. The year is 1/4 over, Eclipse has not met 1/4 of the years delivery goals, and is not on a production curve which will allow these goal to be met.

At least they will have managed to reach or exceed the budget though.

Good time to review the goals for Q1 2008.

Shane, could you please add the link to Flight Centers prediction page to the EclipsecriticNG home page.

Has the EASA TC been issued yet?
Is the FIKI change certified yet?
Is AVIONfG capable of moving map B-RNAV?
Has the tire wear problem been addressed?
Does the A/P still drop out in turbulence?
Are the AvioNfG retrofits rolling out of the MRO in 8 days (or at all)?
Are the full motion sims up and running?
Are the Hampton tailplanes now all conforming parts which need little rework?
Is the new actuator vender on line yet?

The fat lady is getting impatient.
Mirage is still amusing himself.

bill e. goat said...

I agree with your assesment- does it seem correct that Eclipse has settled in at 15 aircraft per month?

The Eclipse web site shows openings for eight (8!) structural analysts. A charitable interpretation would be this is a doubling of their current staff (otherwise, they have an even higher number of structural engineers)- all of them are refered to in Eclipse-speak as "service related"; either things are breaking in the field (which we haven't got reports of- kudos to Eclipse), or, things are really goofed up on the manufacturing line. If it is (only) a doubling of staff, then at 15 a/c per month, and 16 structural engineers, that's 1 man-month per airplane just for...what? (liason debug of faulty manufacturing? Is stir fry all it's touted? "Work force development" in action? Beats me.

I was expecting a conjet flash for the Stunt of the Quarter- guess we'll have to wait for S&F '08. I wonder, if Eclipse is questionably profitable with the EA500, how much can they cut cost on the Conjet ??

Again, going up-market would have been more "conventional", but dinosaur-ish. The advantage of going down-scale is being able to reuse the wing and gear. Maybe systems and avionics too, as upmarket would have demanded more capability, not more IOU's, and there would be real competion.

Vern seems to think he's going to make it on volume, rather than margins. It's an interesting story to watch...

FreedomsJamtarts said...

I would guess that going down market would be suicidal (and therefore highly likely given the Eclipse track record.)

If you look at a normal (as in profitable) GA manufacturer, they start with either a small aircraft (Dimona), a homebuilt (Cirrus VK30) or a production joint venture (Embraer's miltary trainers based on Piper work). As they gain experience, they move up the feeding chain to bigger more complex programs, and their internal structures grow with them. Once they need the manpower and expertise for a more complex project, the largely have it in house, or at least can identify their weakness (Known unknowns in Cheneyspeak).

Unfortunately Eclipse decided to build their business plan on unknown unknowns. (Hubris). Typically exponents of this type of planning don't get the second chance once they have gained the knowledge how they should have done it in the first place. At least not in aviation (As opposed to large organisational management or politics, where a good dose of Teflon can make any idiot shine)

If they were to go downmarket now, they have huge overhead which the slimmer margins of a down market product will have even more trouble covering than the current fiasco.

I don't know about you guys, but in my life the tests I have felt most confident about were either those were I knew I had far more expertise than those who would test me, or those were I had absolutely no clue whatsoever.

Ignorance makes confident.

bill e. goat said...

W-e-l-l, there's not doubt Vern is full of...Confidence !! :)

"those were I knew I had far more expertise than those who would test me, or those were I had absolutely no clue whatsoever".

In Vern's case, I think the answer is "all of the above".

He knew he could kill other aviations companies in terms of disruptive thinking and recruiting investment.

Unfortunately (through ignorance and arrogance), he had no clue that the competition had already been through the disruptive phase, and had settled on what works, and that there is a difference between raising money versus generating it.

Shane Price said...


It's there on the home page, and has been since the week after I 'took over' from Stan. I've checked and FC has kept it up to date. Note that he makes a clear distinction between 'deliveries' and Certificates of Airworthyness, which is why there are March 08 'deliveries' but no CoA's.


Mr. Raburn has always touted volume over everything else, and still sticks to his mantra. The only way he can offer hope of 'big bucks' to the next mark (sorry, investor) is that there are loads of customers waiting for jets. As soon as that myth explodes (when DayJet folds...) the scales will fall from their eyes and the end comes.


fred said...

very good post to be made on april's fools day !!

you could have pushed up to the point :

"EAC has finally finished their plane "

but then peoples wouldn't be fooled that easilly ....!

some subjects are relying on movies to get "real" !!

fred said...

billy ...

yes ...!

your comment about raising money is perfect !!

to raise money , anyone can always find more stupid or more greedy (sometimes both , then you're in for the big cash ...:-) )

but as to make money ...
this is the REAL challenge ...!

i've been working for a billionaire who was always saying :

"don't tell me how you're going to waiste my money ... explain how you'll pay me back ...if i understand you in the first go , i'll give you a blank check !!"

fred said...

freedom ...

ok , it the first of april ...

but EASA TC ???

are you joking ??!!!

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

I see FC's delivery record page on link on this website, but what about the prediction spreadsheet. FC had page where he logged Eclipses predictions against the critics. It was also a Google spreadsheet.

Niner Zulu,

For those of us not fortunate to be members of the owners forums, what are teh details to the Aircon system troubles?

Shane Price said...


Re: Predictions spreadsheet.

Your wish is my command!

Hope I got the one you wanted. If not, let me know by email to The same applies to anyone else who has a worthwhile link which might add value here.


gadfly said...

In the Albuquerque manufacturing community, we listen for the sound of approaching business . . . wishing for the best. The approaching “hoof beats” of the little jet sounded almost too good to be true . . . and they were. Soon, it was apparent to many that this was just another scheme in the long list of schemes in ABQ history that had that same “smell”. Soon, the true nature of the beast became apparent. 'That was back “when” . . . the little bird flew briefly over the landscape, deposits were called in out of escrow . . . announced publicly to “All” . . . a few days later the confessions were made that the first design was not as originally claimed . . . anyone should have been able to fill in the blanks.

Not then, not now, not later, not ever (as in "Never") . . . will this little bird ever fulfill the promises made in the beginning. All things continue as before.


(Sorry, folks, but Albuquerque has been down this road so many times, we have lost count . . . big promises, few successes . . . and history repeats itself.)

Turboprop_pilot said...

Received this tonight (used to be a depositor)

Dear Mr.,

Eclipse Aviation will discuss some exciting changes to the Eclipse 500® Avio NG Total Aircraft Integration™ system during an exclusive customers-only teleconference this Friday, April 4, 2008. Eclipse Aviation President and CEO Vern Raburn will detail these changes and answer customers' questions about Avio NG's recent developments.

The teleconference will begin at 10:00 a.m. Mountain Time and will run approximately one hour. Customers interested in attending can register in advance at or by calling (888) 869-1189 or (706) 643-5902.

We look forward to sharing our updates to Avio NG with you.


Eclipse Aviation Sales


ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

TP, are you serious or is this more April Fool'sfare?

Hard to tell anymore I know.

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