Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hampsons, the FAA, the press and now this....

UPDATED FRIDAY 22nd August 17.49 GMT

****PRESS RELEASE****

Eclipse Aviation Targets Financial Stability as CEO Roel Pieper
Implements Operational Excellence Program

Company reduces workforce by 38 percent

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - August 22, 2008 - Today Eclipse Aviation(r),
manufacturer of the world's first very light jet (VLJ), announced a
reduction in workforce as a result of its operational excellence
strategy introduced by CEO Roel Pieper at AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis.,
July 28, 2008. Eclipse is reducing its workforce by approximately 38
percent which includes temporary workers and people employed less than
six months. The reduction is an effort to achieve financial stability
as soon as possible. Eclipse is laying off approximately 650 employees
affecting all departments and facilities including Albuquerque, N.M.;
Gainesville, Fla.; and Albany, N.Y. Eclipse's total employment remains
at about 1,100. The impact of this action will be a slowdown in the
production of Eclipse 500s through 2008. In 2009, Eclipse intends to
increase production back to previous levels and higher.

"In my effort to take Eclipse Aviation to the next level of growth and
sustainability, I am 100 percent focused on operational excellence and a
plan to achieve it," said Pieper. "Financial stability is critical for
this company and unfortunately, a reduction in workforce was necessary
to achieve it. I am confident this action will set the company on the
path to profitability so that we can continue to lead the very light jet
category."

Eclipse will not be releasing any further information or conducting
interviews surrounding this press release at this time.

That's the official press release. However, I've have contradictory information. I believe EAC are trying to bend figures and 'make like' they're are going to continue with viable production capacity. This is difficult to square with what we know from Albany, IS&S and Hampsons. When you've been reading EAC press releases for as long as I have, you learn to 'parse' the words, then the phrases, then the sentences and finally the message as a whole. Note the careful use of words like 'about', 'approximately' and 'effort'. He's the CEO, and he is not able to tell the press how many people are going and how many are staying. And another thing. I thought all the 'temporary' workers were let go two weeks ago. While I know people have been hired (but not trained very well) in the recent past, I'm interested in how many that would actually add up to.  Finally, for this update, I understand that several contradictory stories are flying around ABQ. A 'standard' version has the total number of layoffs (total) at just under '800' today, and another '400' on Monday.

Original post below

I pretty proud of you lot. It's only two days since the last 'headline' and I can justify a new one.

First, a post from 'Forward Observer' which is a perfect example of what the blog is about. He manages to intertwine personal relationships and political attachments with a true focus on safety. For these reasons alone, it would deserve promotion to 'headline' status. However it's also a good story in it's own right.

Second, I bring you disturbing news from Grand Prairie, Texas. It seems that Hampson Aerospace, whom we last heard of settling their dispute with Vern, have decided to take their chips off the table and leave the game. This is very serious should EAC be able to resume volume production. It must also send a clear signal to other suppliers, as it will be a tad difficult to fly an aircraft without a tail.

Finally, there is an imbalance in our 'coverage' of the traditional media. Not all have followed the EAC line over the past decade. Several are notable by their balanced coverage, including AINonline and AVweb. Some comments I made yesterday would tend to paint all journalists in an unflattering light. This was plainly unfair. So, credit where it's due, and inform your future reading habits by how your favorite source behaved in it's coverage of EAC.

So to begin, the post by Forward Observer. A few of the links didn't work (for me) so I cut them and I've done a little tidy up on the spacing, but it's otherwise as it first appeared yesterday:-

Forward-Observer said

Well, the FAA’s press release, at

http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=10273

trumpets that the FAA is getting right on that pesky Eclipse 500 plane - you know the very first “Special Certification Review” team to prepare a report prior to the September Congressional hearing.

All should be well, everything is fine- “Move along, Move along, these are not the droids you are looking for” could be the intended message. The FAA leadership in Washington is hot the trail, and will make sure everything is just fine. The press release even says “Jerry Mack, a former Boeing safety executive, is leading an oversight team of seven FAA experts.” Is on the job.

Wooaa fellah. Who?

Jerry Mack?

Who is Jerry Mack??

Well, for starters, he’s not even an FAA employee.

And to be represented as a “Senior Safety Executive” might be a bit of a stretch.

You see, Jerry Mack, appears to be an amazing person to appoint to lead a “Special Certification Review” on behalf of the FAA. He’s not working elsewhere right now, and he’s a personal hand-pick of the Senior leadership of the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service to go look into this. Perhaps it was Mr. John Hickey, the Director of the Aircraft Certification Service, who may have chosen Mr. Mack for the job. After all, both previously worked for the Boeing Company.

I can see why Mr. Mack would be the person selected to take a look and see if the FAA was being fair in applying the rules to little ‘ol ECLISPE Aviation. What, pray tell, qualifies Mr. Mack to determine if the FAA applied the regulations properly, when it award a Type Certificate to the Eclispe 500? Well, let’s start with his recent employment. You see Mr. Mack wasn’t working for the FAA. His name does not appear in the employee web directory.

No, he’s an outside contractor that has been brought in to make things appear that All is Well. Mr. Mack previously worked for the Boeing Company. alright. But his most recent job title was not as an engineering safety evaluator. No, it was as the Vice President of Government Technical Affairs for several years.

In that job, his job was to make sure that the Government left the Boeing Company alone. He was paid some pretty big bucks to make sure that nobody from the Government could get too close to the Boeing Company’s secrets. Jerry Mack- Boeing vice president of Government / Industry Technical Liaison for Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Of course, Mr. Mack has had some other employment recently. It turns out Mr. Mack spent a good deal of time at the Aerospace Industries Association. Mack was elected as Aerospace Industries Association AIA’s Civil Aviation Council, and remained there for a period of time. His contacts among the head honchos at the FAA proved very valuable. It appears he is well know and well connected. He’s an ideal man for the job.

http://aia-aerospace.org/aianews/press/2003/rel_01_29_03.cfm

In fact, here’s a photo of Mr. Mack hard at work in his job with the AIA. He’s shown here at the Paris Airshow with his arms around a couple of beauties:

http://www.aia-aerospace.org/images/paris05/paris05_0615_princi.jpg

(AIA Membership Manager Trish Ward, left, Jerry Mack in the middle, and Membership Assistant Vice President Michelle Princi on the right, at the Paris Airshow in 2005)

Now, you might remember some of the interesting things that happened in the time frame following Mr. Mack’s election to the AIA council. You see, it was in that time, Mr Mack, the vice president of Government/Industry Technical Liaison for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, found a few friends in Washington. It was shortly thereafter than another fine executive, namely one Ms. Marion Blakey, found a wonderful new job offer waiting for her over at AIA.

Remember that one? When the FAA Administrator jumped ship to go to the AIA and pick up a six-figure salary? Of course, some might say that’s politics getting into the mix. You might be right. After all, Mr. Mack has paid his dues. In fact, he donated handsomely to George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004, and to John McCain’s run in 2008. Apparently $250 bucks to McCain 2008 is all that’s needed to cement your appointment to a contractor position, to investigate if management of the FAA was ok in it’s issuance of a type certificate. 

Fair and balanced safety review?

Or political hack, former Boeing government liaison executive, hired by another former Boeing employee (Hickey), with bone fide political donations and connections, and now paid to say that everything is fine?

Maybe. Maybe not.

We report.

You decide.

Whew. There is a man with an opinion and the ability to express it.

Next Hampson Aerospace. They are located in Grand Prairie Texas, where they have been making the FPJs' vertical stabilizer, horizontal stabilizer, rudder and elevator. On Wednesday they 'closed their doors' and told the staff to contact HR at a nearby sister company for further information. After Albany, then IS&S and now Hampsons, who will be keen to continue working with EAC, even if they manage to get that critical funding? I'm told they are looking for something in the region of $200 million dollars. Pretty steep ask in the current climate, don't you think?

I'll finish with a reminder not to treat all journalists, or the media outlets that employ them, the same. There are a number who have called this company to account from day one.

Things are moving quickly. I'll try to stay in the loop as much as I can but remember you can always get me by email at

eclipsecriticng@gmail.com

Shane

421 comments:

1 – 200 of 421   Newer›   Newest»
Shane Price said...

Expect major news from ABQ tomorrow.

Don't know any more, at present. If I did, I'd 'headline' it.

Shane

Dave said...

Next Hampson Aerospace. They are located in Grand Prairie Texas, where they have been making the FPJs' vertical stabilizer, horizontal stabilizer, rudder and elevator. On Wednesday they 'closed their doors' and told the staff to contact HR at a nearby sister company for further information.

I don't fully understand what is going on with Hampson. Was it an Eclipse-only factory that they just closed down one day?

Shane Price said...

Dave,

I understand that this 'unit' was dedicated to the FPJ. I further understand that is was associated with another 'Hampsons' group company in the same area.

I would be surprised if we don't see another press release talking about 'adjusting their capacity' to reflect an 'adjustment in orders' from EAC.

You will understand that I've relied on a few sources for this, and I don't have the time or resources to do a proper, detailed investigation of every tip off.

Clearly, the aviation press will follow this up.

Shane

Dave said...

With the EclipseFacts.com website HSR is shown as the owner of the domain name as had been reported on the last thread. It turns out that Eclipse has been using HSR for a few years:
http://www.btobonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070402/FREE/70402033/1014/ISSUENEWS&template=printart

HSR sounds like a rocky place to work as Kodak used to be a major client of theirs (which resulted in downsizing HSR staff), they apparently had dot-com clients (presumably that impacted staffing) and now they list Eclipse has a major client:
http://cincinnati.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/stories/2005/12/19/story7.html

Dave said...

You will understand that I've relied on a few sources for this, and I don't have the time or resources to do a proper, detailed investigation of every tip off.

Thanks Shane. I was just trying to understand what was already known by you.

Dave said...

Hampson noted that in light of continuing lower build rates of the Eclipse 500, the immediate outlook for the programme will continue to be monitored closely and all necessary actions taken to minimise any long term adverse impact on the group.
http://www.hemscott.com/news/static/tfn/item.do?newsId=66179005279856

Shadow said...

Shane said: "Expect major news from ABQ tomorrow. Don't know any more, at present. If I did, I'd 'headline' it."

Well, if suppliers are talking about layoffs, then one can reasonably expect Eclipse to follow suit. It's just a matter of how many. On another note, why do companies prefer to let people go on a Friday? So they can say "Sorry, you no longer have a job. Hope you have a great weekend."?

Black Tulip said...

With Eclipse 500 utilization down perhaps there is solution to the Hampson shutdown. Owners could get together and share a 'communal tail'. One Eclipse empennage could be hangared at the airport and reserved for flights. An STC for quick removal and installation would be developed. In the tradition of ‘firewall forward’, it would be called the ‘pressure bulkhead back’ kit.

Shane Price said...

Could this be true?

I know it's off the wall, but I've heard, more than once, that Vern has decided to invest in some personal transportation. Clearly, for a man of his standing, a careful review of the market was vital. I'm sure factors like speed, reliability and up to date avionics were key.

He wanted the best VLJ in the market, naturally, and has used all his (remaining) influence to secure a delivery in October.

What do the sources tell me?

Mr. Raburn has bought a Mustang!

But for the sake of all that's holy, don't tell the members of E5C. You know, the web site dedicated to owners and depositors of the FPJ.

I hear they are up in arms about lots of things already. Our former South AfriKen correspondent continues to rave on about the 'fuel burn' and 'value', but others are much more realistic.

Some are (shock, horror) already talking about the 'post BK' outlook, and will they get FIKI, AvioNG, etc etc etc for free.

I fear that news of this purchase by their former leader would cause an abrupt loss of faith, from which some might never recover.

Just like yesterday's 'Irish Joke' about your media event, sorry, 'election' due this November, I just HAD to share this.

So let's all agree that it's only a rumor and not tell E5C members, OK?

Shane

Dave said...

He wanted the best VLJ in the market, naturally, and has used all his (remaining) influence to secure a delivery in October.
What do the sources tell me?
Mr. Raburn has bought a Mustang!


I wouldn't at all be surprised if Vern did this after he was fired. Vern seems to have a history of being Mr. Bad Attitude.

I hear they are up in arms about lots of things already. Our former South AfriKen correspondent continues to rave on about the 'fuel burn' and 'value'

...While he simultaneously tries to sell his Eclipse.

Dave Ivedorne said...

Out with the WeeJet, in with an OverdueReallyBigJet

From two days ago, it would appear that Hampson has a 'Plan B' lined up already:

Hampson Industries Plc. said its U.S. unit has received a Letter of Intent (LOI) from Airbus to supply initial wing and fuselage curing tools for the Airbus A350 programme, and also reported a possible cost-cutting plan and positive outlook for the group as a whole...

...Hampson noted that in light of continuing lower build rates of the Eclipse 500, the immediate outlook for the programme will continue to be monitored closely and all necessary actions taken to minimise any long term adverse impact on the group.

'Where appropriate, cost base reductions and any necessary asset impairments will be made during the current financial year,' it said, adding that this might leading to a maximum cash cost of an exceptional 1.5 million pounds.


That'll still leave a bit of a mark...

DI

eclipso said...

Shadow

800/400 to follow....but not verified by more than one party

Dave Ivedorne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...

800/400 to follow....but not verified by more than one party

That would be disruptive.

Beedriver said...

Do we have any bloggers that are residents of Minnesota? if so they should contact Oberstar and make sure he and his staff is aware of this Blog. he has a reputation of wanting to get to the bottom of things. some of the information that is here just might help out his committee.

unfortunately I live just across the border in Wisconsin and know everything about Minnesota (we only get minnesota TV) but I don't get a vote there.

Dave Ivedorne said...

On another note, why do companies prefer to let people go on a Friday?

So those employees who were both let go and scored 'Latent Mass Murderer' on their Myers-Briggs profiles have a couple of days to get over 'the urge'. Since Hampson closed the doors on a Wednesday, they would appear to either be a bit light in the 'LMM' department, or they have something useful in mind for most of the affected staff.


DI

gadfly said...

Some thoughts about Hampson, et. al., . . . and the ones working out on the floor in ABQ:

‘Having hired and fired many people over the years, and having been fired, myself, it isn’t the mistakes a person or business makes that determines character, but how one goes about recovering. The losers will remain losers . . . often blaming others.

The first man I fired, was just before Christmas, while he was going through a divorce . . . a few months later, he was in the local news for firing a rifle into his former home, narrowly missing his own young son. Who knows what might have happened had I not fired him when I did. But I learned early to not put off clear decisions.

The first time I was fired, was for "just cause" . . . I was "ratting" on others, and giving advice, when it was not asked, nor appreciated . . . and I thanked the man who fired me, remaining friends for many years. The second time, I was fired for reasons beyond my control . . . and came back to manage a company by the same people a few months later. The third (and last time) I was fired by a man that went to prison . . . and after his time in prison, I was able to keep his friendship . . . he's no longer around.

Through it all, I learned much about myself, and the business world . . . and people in general.

Sometimes, I’ve had employees make a mistake, that cost me personally many thousands of dollars . . . and those same employees went on to be my very best workers . . . whom I could trust to this day. Make a mistake? . . . admit it, and move on. Tell a lie? . . . there is no place on earth to find safety and peace . . . even from yourself.

Hampson seems to have made a very bad mistake in human judgement . . . and they’ll pay the price. But they may be the most qualified contractor in the future for Airbus or any other corporation that chooses them for future work . . . having learned some lessons, including "even more attention to detail".

To “Hampson” and the others that have and will suffer for having done business with Eclipse, it’s not what has happened, but how they deal with the recovery. Sometimes the best companies are those that have gone through the worst tragedies.

As for Eclipse? . . . They conducted business based on dishonesty . . . and such companies will ultimately fail. And of them, I have no sympathy . . . except for the “innocent” who work on the floor, and will pay the immediate price.

However, in ten years, the ones who now have been working on the floor, would not wish to exchange places with the “present management”. Guaranteed!

gadfly

(Someone said that “life is not fair”, but that is not true. Life is ultimately very fair . . . but only if you look at the bottom line of the balance sheet. And recognize Who covered the cost.)

Dave said...

So those employees who were both let go and scored 'Latent Mass Murderer' on their Myers-Briggs profiles have a couple of days to get over 'the urge'. Since Hampson closed the doors on a Wednesday, they would appear to either be a bit light in the 'LMM' department, or they have something useful in mind for most of the affected staff.

Letting people go on Friday is one business practice, but not the only business practice. They also say to do it in the afternoon for instance, but these business practices are also seen as harsh in some quarters even when someone is being fired (rather than downsized). How Hampson did it based on the very little that I know, it sounds like they were trying to show their employees respect over losing their jobs due to something that wasn't the employees' fault.

eclipso said...

And more from Texas:


http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/082108eclipsejet.3feed1b.html

airsafetyman said...

In a September 2007 press release Hampson said they would be buiilding the empennage of the Honda Jet and doing the final assembly of the tail at their Texas location. So why "close the doors" and refer your people to a nearby HR department? Seems a brutal way to treat your worker-bees.

Dave said...

So why "close the doors" and refer your people to a nearby HR department? Seems a brutal way to treat your worker-bees.

I think we'll have to see what all comes out with Eclipse and the contracting companies.

Krupal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Ivedorne said...

Do we have any bloggers that are residents of Minnesota?

Yes ( though I'm not in his district )

if so they should contact Oberstar...

Let's not limit our ability to make a difference to me and what I've done and can do. He's chairman of the United States House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, not the 'Eighth District of Minnesota Transportation & Infrastructure Committee'. We're all interested parties.

BTW Beedriver - Wisconsin's very own Tom Petri is ranking Republican on the Aviation Subcommittee of Oberstar's mothership. Sharpen your pencil, and get scribblin'...

...and make sure he and his staff is aware of this Blog.

JMHO, but the blog should not be what he is made aware of - the ISSUES that are discussed here are what matters. The research done here exposes supporting data from sources that are better recognized by an outsider. But a hypothetical Congressional staffer who visits for the first time might "mistake" the blog as being too biased and vitriolic - and not come back. Any casual research ( aka 'Google' ) of the core issues will inevitably lead here anyway - so we'll all get our fifteen seconds of "fame".

By my rough count, there are 75 members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee - with most of the states having some representation.

It would behoove each and every one of us to contact one or more of them. If you live in somebody's district, you can contact them through a form on their Congressional website. If not, a well-written letter can make a surprising impression. My only suggestion would be to stick to one or two specific concerns ( and contemplate whether or not the concerns you raise are relevant to the work they have to do ), so it's more likely to get read twice.

Would you like that in triplicate?
DI

cybit said...

Gerald used to be the Director of Certification and Technical Liasion to the Engineering and Product Development Team @ Boeing. (I'd link, but y'all don't have access to it, alas.)

IE, he was the guy in charge of making sure that design had someone nagging them to keep the certificability (is that a word?) of the aircraft in mind. So he would actually be a good choice.

Dave said...

IE, he was the guy in charge of making sure that design had someone nagging them to keep the certificability (is that a word?) of the aircraft in mind. So he would actually be a good choice.

That's good at least.

cybit said...

Resume for your perusal. Don't know if you guys will be able to access it.

http://bcamarketspacedev.web.boeing.com/Orgs/MktgOrg/OrgInfo/Bios/MackJerry.pdf

I think FO needs to take off the aluminum tinfoil cap. :/

Jim said...

With no parts required until 2009, there isn't much for the workers to do. Build rate of 30 for the next 6 months would mean the workforce could be reduced to a couple hundred. Control cash flow, no fixes, no suppliers.

cybit said...

Well, hrm. that link failed. Copy and Paste this time...

Jerry Mack was appointed to the new position of Vice President Government &
Industry Technical Liaison in August 2002. In this position he is responsible for the
integration of activities associated with all regulatory and industry matters across
Commercial Airplanes, including safety, certification, security, and operations. He is
also responsible for managing Boeing relationships with key government, industry,
special interest organizations. He is also linked with the Marketing and Business
Strategy organization to ensure alignment with the Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA)
Business Plan.

Prior to his current position, he was Vice President of Aviation Safety and
Technical Affairs-Commercial Airplanes in the Washington, D.C. Office, responsible for,
on a global basis, all technical regulatory activities. From 1997 to 2000, he was Boeing
Commercial Airplanes Vice President of Engineering and Technical Operations-Europe,
located in Brussels, Belgium, where he served as the key Boeing Commercial Airplane
Group technical executive, responsible for interfacing with airline customers, industry
and government agencies in Europe, including Russia/CIS.

From 1989 to 1997, Mack was BCA’s Director of Airplane Certification and
Regulatory Affairs and had responsibility for overseeing the certification of all Boeing
commercial airplanes. He played an instrumental role in the unprecedented concurrent certification of the 777 by the FAA and JAA, as well as obtaining early Extended Twin-
Engine Operations (ETOPS) approval for the new jet.

Before joining Boeing in 1988, Mack held a variety of positions in the Federal
Aviation Administration, including management positions in regulatory oversight and certification of transport airplanes in the U.S., Europe and Latin America. He served as the FAA’s transport airplane manager in Brussels during the early 1980s.

Mack received a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering from California
State Polytechnic University in 1970 and is a 1987 graduate of the FAA's Executive
School program. He completed the Global Executive Program at Duke University's
Fuqua School of Business in May 1999.
He served as chairman of the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee for
Transport Airplane and Engines. He is currently the Chairman of the Civil Aviation
Council of the Aerospace Industries Association.

He is a senior member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
(AIAA) and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. He has served as a member of
the Board of Directors of St. Andrews Housing Group, providing low income housing to
Seattle-area residents, and has participated in numerous other community activities.
In his off hours, Jerry enjoys hiking, fishing, and boating. He is also a licensed
airplane pilot. He is married and has two grown children, and a beautiful new, baby
granddaughter.

cybit said...

Cliffs Notes Version: FAA manager who came to Boeing to head up Certification @ Boeing, then he got promoted to VP level and played as a go-between for the FAA and Boeing.

I'm going to guess being the head of all model certification at the largest aerospace company in the world could be considered qualification. Just my two cents.

Dave said...

Well, hrm. that link failed. Copy and Paste this time...

Much more informative. So it looks like he's been a lobbyist for the last 10 years and before that was involved in certification. I'll be curious to see what his report says, but I'm not expecting much.

Dave said...

I'm going to guess being the head of all model certification at the largest aerospace company in the world could be considered qualification.

Yes, it is a qualification, but a better qualification would be being on the other side of the table (conducting the certifications rather than receiving certifications). His qualifications would be better suited to being a consultant for Eclipse during the certiciation process than being an auditor of the Eclipse certification process.

cybit said...

Before joining Boeing in 1988, Mack held a variety of positions in the Federal Aviation Administration, including management positions in regulatory oversight and certification of transport airplanes in the U.S., Europe and Latin America. He served as the FAA’s transport airplane manager in Brussels during the early 1980s.

That sounds like he's been on both sides of the table. Which makes sense, because being on the other side of the table would make him very attractive to Boeing. (Someone who understands the processes and details of certification)

gadfly said...

“So why "close the doors" and refer your people to a nearby HR department? Seems a brutal way to treat your worker-bees.”

It depends on the ultimate motive behind your actions.

Back while working on a certain vascular clip system, I would sometimes attend neurosurgery.

One thing I learned “real soon”, . . . it takes time to “scrub” in preparation to enter the operating room . . . using the right soap, scrubbing both hands and arms with a small brush, watching the clock . . . and holding hands and arms at the correct angle, so that every thing dripped off my elbows . . . and allowing an “OR” (Operating Room) nurse to apply the gloves . . . etc.

Then the excitement soon “wears off” . . . the entry into someone’s skull is made (I’ll leave out the details of drills, saws, and “snips”), and the long tedious explorations through the archives of someone’s life. Six hours later, there may come a time to “close” . . . again, a long tedious process . . . hopefully, ending in the recovery of the patient.

The bottom line, here, is that there needs to be a time of “closure” . . . or “closer”, according to the TV show. For instance, ‘just as it would not be proper to walk from one “OR” into another, without a complete change of “scrubs”, booties, head cap, and an entirely new scrub session, so it would not be wise to go from one intense problem to another without time to recuperate from the “first”. There is a need to avoid at all costs a “cross contamination” between patients.

So, what appears to some as being brutal, is an absolute “must”.

This problem did not begin last week . . . nor even “last year”, but long ago. Who is guilty? I have my opinions, but that’s not the problem for those most affected at the moment . . . and wouldn’t make any difference anyway.

If the numbers are correct . . . many families are going to be hurt by the events in ABQ. A few weeks ago, I met one of these young men . . . and his small family in a McDonald’s . . . he was most pleased with his job, and the opportunity to move ahead, to provide for his family. I almost felt guilty, knowing what I know, that soon . . . all too soon, his family would suffer for the lack of integrity of some, who couldn’t care less about his situation.

So, until those responsible, are fully exposed in the light of day, to the public, who have caused the disaster that is building, the “gadfly” will continue to be a nuisance.

gadfly

(“the Eclipse 500 marks the safest new airplane introduction into service in 20 years” . . . what a lie, what a farce, what a fraudulent statement!)

Black Dog said...

Its all Over if Hampsons have stopped production in Texas.

The Hampsons board where not afraid to take Vern to court and would do again if they thought there was any money there obviously there is no cash left so they have pulled the plug and who can blame them.

I expect Eclipse BK and a production shift to Russia.

airsafetyman said...

"He is currently the Chairman of the Civil Aviation
Council of the Aerospace Industries Association."

Of which Mz. Marion is the head. Of which Eclipse is a full-time member. He should refuse to take on the review for those reasons alone.

Dave said...

That sounds like he's been on both sides of the table. Which makes sense, because being on the other side of the table would make him very attractive to Boeing. (Someone who understands the processes and details of certification)

Yes, being an FAA exec/administrator would make him attractive to Boeing, but that doesn't make him attractive as an auditor of a certification but would be better as a consultant. There's many more well-qualified people out there who were involved in certifications sooner than a decade ago and who was employed at the FAA less than two decades ago. His resume is poor be an FAA auditor but for an Eclipse consultant.

Dave said...

Of which Mz. Marion is the head. Of which Eclipse is a full-time member. He should refuse to take on the review for those reasons alone.

That's amongst the reasons why I say he'd be better as a consultant for Eclipse than an auditor for the FAA. The last time this guy was on the same side of certifications as he is now was decades ago. His bio is so vague that it doesn't even spell out what exactly he did in FAA certifications or when he did it, so apparently it wasn't that big a deal.

gadfly said...

Black Pooch

Although I know next to nothing about "Hampson", I certainly like their style. In my opinion, they have a future in general aviation. They show guts and integrity.

gadfly

(Their opponent . . . former customer, shows impudence, insult, and total lack of integrity.)

Dave said...

Its all Over if Hampsons have stopped production in Texas.

Eclipse tried to get leverage on suppliers by going to small firms and then being [one of] their main clients, but that could only work for so many types parts suppliers. Eclipse can't push Hampson around and Hampson isn't dependent on Eclipse for business.

I'd also expect Eclipse would run into problems if they did try to get new suppliers in Russia. We live in a inter-connected wired world and it wouldnt take long for suppliers there to lean about Eclipse's poor credit rating...particularly after the first time Eclipse missed paying a supplier in Russia.

cybit said...

ASM == damn near every decent sized company is in the AIA. Full list at the link. It would be asinine to discount anyone who is in the AIA from participating. Who cares that Marion is the head of the AIA? It's a group of companies banded together to try to make things better for the manufacturers, not the freakin Illuminati.

http://www.aia-aerospace.org/members
.cfm

dave -- He's overseeing the team, not doing all the auditing himself. In fact, it's fairly safe to say that his responsibilities will be primarily the resource usage of the experts underneath him.

Normally I'm with you guys, but this is aluminum foil tin cap level paranoia.

Also, he was the direct manager of a certification group, so he would have at least a good insight into how the process occurs, even though he probably didn't do much himself.

Dave said...

The subject is so touchy for Eclipse 500 avionics display provider IS&S that it wouldn’t even refer to Eclipse Aviation by name.
http://www.ainonline.com/news/single-news-page/article/eclipse-production-slowdown-trickling-to-suppliers/

Eclipse Aviation = Lord Valdermort!

Dave said...

ASM == damn near every decent sized company is in the AIA. Full list at the link. It would be asinine to discount anyone who is in the AIA from participating.

When they are auditing a member company on behalf of the FAA that makes a huge conflict of interest. Why should the AIA be conducting FAA audits of its own members?

Who cares that Marion is the head of the AIA? It's a group of companies banded together to try to make things better for the manufacturers, not the freakin Illuminati.

FAA audits aren't supposed to make things better for the manufacturers.

Also, he was the direct manager of a certification group, so he would have at least a good insight into how the process occurs, even though he probably didn't do much himself.

Like I said that was over ten years ago. Nobody is asking about having good insight into outdated processes from the other end of the table (and his insight is even futher outdated from the FAA perspective). There's many more people out there with far more relevant and current experience. They also don't have the conflict of interest that he does.

Black Dog said...

gadfly said...
Black Pooch

Although I know next to nothing about "Hampson", I certainly like their style. In my opinion, they have a future in general aviation. They show guts and integrity.

Gad

I've always stated that the board of Hampsons are no mugs they are buying into carbon companys at a large rate hence the Airbus contract they have just secured.
The Honda jet does not start product for a few months yet so keeping the texas plant open probably is not an option.

Dave whats to stop Eclipse Europe buying up all the rights after BK and producing the FPJ in Russia?

gadfly said...

Black Dog . . . and anyone else who may be listening,

Get word to “Hampson” to investigate using a composite mix of “Nylon” and/or “aramid” fibers, blended with the “carbon”. I’m too old to fight this battle, but discovered tremendous “fail safe” benefits by this method a few decades back. If further info is desired, I’ll be more than happy to share some “secrets” discovered in that technology . . . ‘just go through Shane . . . and we’ll discuss it openly with legitimate people. And, no, there are no patent protections . . . just a desire to share things that “work” and have been tested.

gadfly

(Oh, did I mention that a company that I once managed, designed the products, and was the general manager, put up some 137 foot diameter domes, of honeycomb plastic panels in severe Winona, Minnesota conditions? . . . and many other projects? . . . ‘Often thought how that technology could be used in the aircraft industry. After the first two domes, we got better . . . but the CEO had to spend some time in a “gated community”, and the enterprise had to be shut down. Sound familiar?)

Shane Price said...

Black Dog,

Welcome to the blog.

Dave whats to stop Eclipse Europe buying up all the rights after BK and producing the FPJ in Russia?

Nothing, unless they want to have a business which relies on selling the product.

The FPJ dies with Eclipse.

No if's but's or maybe's. Too much integration, too little thought about long term support, too many untried processes and too much hubris in the design of the package.

There are about 100 (yes, that's one hundred) FPJ's lying around several locations in ABQ. For all practical purposes they are AOG. There is a very simple reason for this. Upgrades are required, to turn them into 'jets'.

As in, aircraft which can move people quickly from point A to point B, in poor weather, with a good chance that they will arrive in one piece.

The pilot of any FPJ climbs into a cockpit with INOP fixed to many parts of the panel.

This 'thing' is a blot on the history of aviation. In 5 years, students will be doing Masters on the subject.

"Vern Raburn and Eclipse: how not to run an aircraft company"

Just my few cents worth.

Shane

Dave Ivedorne said...

Dave whats to stop Eclipse Europe buying up all the rights after BK and producing the FPJ in Russia?

Consent of the BK Court.

In Chapter 11 BK, there are four parties involved: debtor, creditors, the US Trustee, & the BK judge. Eclipse-ABQ ( Debtor-In-Possession ) would have lots and lots of creditors [1]: equity investors, debt investors, suppliers, depositors, the State of NM, the IRS - just to name a few - any of whom could form a creditors' committee. They would have a voice in BK proceedings. In the event of a somnambulent bunch of creditors, the US Trustee will pipe up from time to time.

Any reorganization plan would need to demonstrate a likelihood of succeeding to the BK judge.

Push that bad boy into Chapter 7, and now you have an additional bankruptcy trustee to oversee the liquidation. What trouble might that cause to somebody currently or recently inside the organization? Simple. The latest trend in BK liquidations is the trustee suing EVERYONE involved.

So, if you're a former CEO who would misrepresent any & everything to anyone who would listen? Sleep well - NOW THEY SUE EVERYONE.

If you're a Chief Accounting Officer with an 'iffy' resume, well, sweet dreams - NOW THEY SUE EVERYONE.

If you're an offshore shell company owned by an interim CEO who ignores the terms of every customer and vendor contract while trying to engineer an acquisition of the company's assets for pennies on the dollar in BK? Rest easy - NOW THEY SUE EVERYONE.

/end rant

JMHO, YMMV,
DI

I AM NOT VERN said...

I just want everyone to remember that I have "dibs" on September 16th, 2008 as my best guess for a bankruptcy filing.

Upon review this date MIGHT be too far in the future!

PS. I am not Vern and I am not enjoying my new Mustang!

baron95 said...

From 1989 to 1997, Mack was BCA’s Director of Airplane Certification and
Regulatory Affairs and had responsibility for overseeing the certification of all Boeing
commercial airplanes. He played an instrumental role in the unprecedented concurrent certification of the 777 by the FAA and JAA, as well as obtaining early Extended Twin-
Engine Operations (ETOPS) approval for the new jet.


Yep, just like shane implied in his headline post.... the man is an absolute moron, knows nothing about certification or aviation, has no clue how to lead a SCR team.

It is beyond me why this blog loses its way so easily. We all wanted an SCR, we made a list of the issues that warrant the SCR. The FAA, in unprecedented form, initiates an SCR before loss of life, and appoints a non-FAA employee to lead it, a person with OBVIOUS credntials and success in the private sector.

What is the blog's reaction? True to form, and believing that they need to put down everything, they find fault with the SCR team lead.

Shane, your headline post and all the attention on the SCR team lead are doing a disservice to the blog, the Eclipse owners and future pilots.

He is not leading the investigation of "was the Eclipse TC awarded by political pressure". He is leading the team that is reviewing the current state of the Eclipse 500 aircraft and the production methods to see if they comform to the TC, PC, to the FARs and are safe to be flown.

To imply that Jerry Mack and the entire SCR team will stamp the plane as "safe" if it is not and sweep negative findings that can get people killed is just plain silly.

You all know that I have been critical of the FAA in this blog, but to believe that a WHOLE TEAM lead by a CREDIBLE and proven executive will sweep critical safety of flight findings aside is just totaly ridiculous.

But, it is a free blog, everyone is entited to pursue whatever conspiracy theories they want, so, go ahead, tell us more how a compromised, inexperienced and currupt moron Jerry Mack is. I'm NOT listening.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

I have to agree with Baron on this - I see a competent exec with certification experience, no ties to the company or the FAA as it existed when it certified the EA-500, with a charter to determine if the issues from the SDR database deserve additional training or certification activity.

I could be wrong, but I haven't been so far.

Ceri said...

Shane said: "The FPJ dies with Eclipse."

Well maybe, maybe not.

Everything has some value. Most of the FPJs were bought at well under the 'market' value for a _working_ product of this type (which you'd guess at somewhere in the $1.75-$2.25million rage).

If some company decided it wanted to get into the FPJ upgrade business, there's a big captive market there. The a/c in their current state aren't really usable other than for hobby flying in clear skies, so most owners would stump up for the upgrades (which you could expect to be priced such that the overall cost to the owner of FPJ+upgrades is close to or over the 'market' - touch of the Gadflies there - value).

I think the delivered fleet is too large a potential upgrade market to just fade away.

I guess the caveats would be liability issues (no upgrade company would want to be considered liable for the whole aircraft) - but I guess that's a known quantity, as upgrading is common enough; and the TC review. There is a possibility that the outcome of the review places such draconian modification requirements that the FPJs just aren't worth fixing. But historically, the FAA has shown a commitment (rightly or wrongly) to work to keep aircraft flying, even when it's clear they're just applying bandaids.

If customers were willing to pay, say, 400k for upgrades, that would be $100m of business. Crikey, Baron and I will start a company, if no-one else does...

You could expect the resale value of 'unfixed' (Gad again) FPJs to drop to the value of a fixed one, minus the cost of the upgrade.

Your, my or the blogs judgements of the safety or quality of the FPJ aren't relevant to this ... a twin engined, _fixed_ jet has a decent value.

All this without getting into a discussion of what the TC and PC might now be worth ... it's so expensive to go through the certification process, even a non-ideal design has value. It's clear, I think, that the basic design is OK, not great, but good enough. So putting it into production and selling some is worth someone's while. Just hope it's not Vern...

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Before anybody goes out to setup a biz to make a load of coin by fixing the PreemieJet, you need to remember that the Eclipse TCDS REQUIRES the TC holder's permission to make any mod to the integrated systems or flightdeck.

Ceri said...

"Before anybody goes out to setup a biz to make a load of coin by fixing the PreemieJet, you need to remember that the Eclipse TCDS REQUIRES the TC holder's permission to make any mod to the integrated systems or flightdeck."

The TC owner would have every interest (assuming they're a sane business person ... take one step back, Vern...) in reaching an agreement with a third party upgrade provider. It would be ideal for them to have a solution that they could incorporate in new builds.

If you own the TC, you want the existing airframes to be modified to a decent spec - otherwise, when they start crashing the value of the TC falls.

Again, I presuppose the involvement of sane people with consciences ... wierd voodoo schemes of building planes by the thousand in Russia don't fit the bill.

airsafetyman said...

"Yep, just like shane implied in his headline post.... the man is an absolute moron, knows nothing about certification or aviation, has no clue how to lead a SCR team."

No one is saying that. Its just that there is a blatant conflict of interest here. If he is a full-time employee of AIA he will be investigating his boss and one of the companies that make up the organization he works for. Investigating them for extremely serious violations. To say that the FAA can't get someone competent without ties to AIA, Marion Blakey, and Eclipse is absurd. There are probably scores of recently retired FAA executives who have worked with firms in gaining certification who would be better. This does have every appearance of being improper.

stan said...

baron/coldfish,

Take away the IAI link between Blakey and Mack and I might agree with you.

Certainly, the pressure came from Washington while she was running the show. And keep in mind, the grievance was filed against John Hickey.

While the SCR is about whether the E500 meets the certification requirements. A negative finding will validate the claims in the grievance and implicate management within the FAA.

Under these circumstances, the FAA should have recused the agency and request that Oberstar appoint an independent head for the SCR.

Sorry, but I don't have much confidence in any government agency investigating itself.

Dave said...

I have to agree with Baron on this - I see a competent exec with certification experience, no ties to the company or the FAA as it existed when it certified the EA-500, with a charter to determine if the issues from the SDR database deserve additional training or certification activity.
I could be wrong, but I haven't been so far.


As Cybit pointed out with the AIA, they're there to "make things better for the manufacturers," which that isn't what this is about. This is about ensuring the safety of the public, even if it means making things [much] worse for a certain manufacturer who is a member of the AIA. Also the last time this guy worked on certifications was so long ago Eclipse hadn't even been formed yet! It makes it hard to say that this guys knows about how to conduct FAA certification reviews when he hadn't been a part of one for over a decade and hadn't worked for the FAA in any capacity in two decades. There's far more qualified people with more current knowledge of FAA certification out there who also don't have a conflict of interest.

Kathy said...

Just a response to 20yr mechanic from previous thread. Looks like deep apologies are in order from me to you 20yr! Had no idea that you took said action(s). Looks like good CYA. Again, all apologies.

---Kat

flyger said...

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Before anybody goes out to setup a biz to make a load of coin by fixing the PreemieJet, you need to remember that the Eclipse TCDS REQUIRES the TC holder's permission to make any mod to the integrated systems or flightdeck.

That's not actually what is says. It says such changes must be approved by the Aircraft Certification Office, the FAA.

Under Note 5 (avionics)

... Accordingly, no changes to the integrated avionics system may be made without coordination with the Certificate Management Aircraft Certification Office.

Under Note 7 (cockpit arrangement):

Any modification or changes in cockpit configuration which may affect aircrew workload, cockpit noise level or day/night operational capabilities must be evaluated by an FAA Aircraft Certification Flight Test Pilot.

But changing anything in the avionics without the original design documents, most importantly including the software source code, is futile. The only way out of that mess is to rip it all out and start over. That may be the only way to provide for a supportable airplane, particularly if it gets migrated to something like a G1000. Won't be cheap or easy.

baron95 said...

Flyger said ... The only way out of that mess is to rip it all out and start over. That may be the only way to provide for a supportable airplane, particularly if it gets migrated to something like a G1000. Won't be cheap or easy.


I'm totally convinced that, the only way this plane can be competitive is to rip the avionics/CAS/Avio actuators and start fresh with PWC FADEC, G1000 and the CAS setup used by the TBM-G1000 integration. I'd have to know more about the design to see what else Avio has its paws on and how hard it is to certify.

Bottom line is it is going to cost somewhere between $20-40M to rip and certify a G1000-SVS on the EA500. Lets say $30M. Lets say Eclipse folds with 300 planes on the fiels. That means that the cost of upgrades of the avionics alone will be on the order of $250K/plane ($100K certification alocation + $150K parts and labor).

That assumes you are upgrading the whole fleet. I may be off by +-50-75K but not much more than that.

The question is, what is the value of an Eclipse without Avio and with a G1000/GFC700-SVS pannel? I think it is easilly more than $250K over an Avio plane.

This may be one of the few cases where it pays to upgrade a plane.

And Ceri is right. Modern twin fanjets with economical engines (even with junk avionics) have a non-trivial value. You should see how many early C500/501s are being upgraded by Sierra with Williams engines - and most of them have ancient avionics.

I think that getting rid of Avio and putting in G1000 is something that will have to be done sooner or later.

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

just a few comments :


shane :
your post about the Vern's mustang is "hilarious" (not the right word ,but i am laughing too much to remember ...)

i can imagine a crowd of "die-hard" reaching for Vernperator while he is boarding his Cessna ... as they all are staring in unbelief , V.R. looks back on them with a good

"Buzz-off , you looser !"

(definitely a disruptive marketing ! ;-)) )


Gad :

couldn't agree more with you , if you want to manage efficiently a place , just a very few things to remember :
1° you can be wrong (and you will be more that you want or dare count...)
2° if you are not wrong yourself , someone in your staff will be and you'll still get the blame

risk Zero doesn't exist !

once you get it , try to get a lesson out of it (failures in that respect teach a lot more !) and move on ...

black dog :

#I expect Eclipse BK and a production shift to Russia. #

may be but the important bit here is : What for ? something that wasn't selling enough in the very same place where it is made (with all fantasies and more or less nationalistic point of view ) and where there is 99% of its customers ...? (i am being kind , i leave 1% for the rest of the world , apart etirc who wants them abroad ? in reality , not what is trumped ...!!) may be better under some other skies ?

on top of that , the recent events (Georgia/Nato clash) make it very improbable to have the russian fed. working in any good faith with the US fed. agencies ... it was looking complicated before , now with a russian public opinion at 50% sure that USA is behind the Georgian attack on South-ossetia (i am ,myself very sure of it !) , what are the chances they want or accept to cooperate ?
= None !

if not enough : the fact to loose most of past suppliers send the Fpj to very close to point Zero !

so shane is right ! what are the chances to have an unfinished something , with lots of unfixed problems , being transplanted into a place where "G.A. culture" is ONLY something starting to appear, with to make it simpler all the politics dung between the two ???

(and welcome to the "club" )


dave :

#particularly after the first time Eclipse missed paying a supplier in Russia.#

well my friend ...the thing would be simple this way ... i have personally seen this already a few times ... you do not pay your furnishers ? usually a bunch of guys who can't pass your door facing and standing-up (shoulders and height) are coming to your place ...

the minute after , you are in the street !

as simple as this ... and if you are making too much fuss about , unless you have really f***G connections , you won't find any judge who would see anything wrong with that ...!
(don't get me wrong : it is nothing linked with mafia or anything like this ! just they have a very straightforward sens of "who owns what" ! in France , the same applies , your furnisher's stuff belong and remain their exclusive property until you finish to pay for it ...)

as for the Head of investigation :

i think Monsieur stan is right : Federal Agencies checking on themselves ?
(put yourself in front of a mirror and ask yourself this question "am i the cutest thing on earth ?" if your answer is yes ... take an appointment with a shrink !)

it make no difference if the guy is newly born or the most experienced ...

as whatever is found or "forgotten" is going to be in for some speculations ...
very difficult matter , but i feel one of the thing to start with would be to ask "potential" culprit to step-down for a while ...! ( till the investigation is finished and hearing done !)

julius said...

Dave

As Cybit pointed out with the AIA, they're there to "make things better for the manufacturers," which that isn't what this is about. This is about ensuring the safety of the public, even if it means making things [much] worse for a certain manufacturer who is a member of the AIA. Also the last time this guy worked on certifications was so long ago Eclipse hadn't even been formed yet! It makes it hard to say that this guys knows about how to conduct FAA certification reviews when he hadn't been a part of one for over a decade and hadn't worked for the FAA in any capacity in two decades. There's far more qualified people with more current knowledge of FAA certification out there who also don't have a conflict of interest.

It is interesting to read that FAA
released the SCR-info 9 days after it's start!

I think Mr. Mack will earn more than 1k$ per day + per diem + etc.
How many people were invited to apply for this job (if a non-FAA person is actually required)?

Who is responsible for the papers -
Mr. Hickey (or the 7 FAA employees) or Mr. Mack (no! "I am just leading")... nice situation for employees ... catch-22?

I do not know if the SCR is just a report with no direct impact on the TC - just an nice paper with soft recommendations.

I do believe that Mr. Hickey (and VR who might have initiated this SCR proactively) selected Mr. Mack because of his special knowledge for this situation and Mr. Oberstar's investigations.

Mr. Mack doesn't know anything of certifications? No problem: there are 7 FAAs - ok!

BTW: Who is paying the bill for the SCR? Is the full report available for the public?

We will wait!

julius

FlightCenter said...

I think you are underestimating the expense of replacing the panel with the G1000.

Take a look at the G1000 package for the King Air.

https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=153&pID=9717

http://www.elliottaviation.com/default.aspx?id=1974

My understanding is that shops are charging $300K to $350K for the upgrade.

The Eclipse 500 is so small and the room available to run wiring harnesses is so limited that an Eclipse retrofit will almost certainly require significantly more labor than a King Air retrofit.

Plus someone would have to design a new autopilot for the E500 and amortize that cost over something less than 240 aircraft that will get the upgrade.

Is Garmin going to do that? It is unlikely they will want to take the risk, both financial and liability.

Who else is capable of developing a certified autopilot for Eclipse?

None of the usual suspects is likely to step up to design an autopilot for 240 E500s.

Chelton won't do it. It is their autopilot on the plane right now. That leaves Collins and Honeywell as the only other certified autopilot developers in this market space. They both have better things to work on.

Even if an autopilot developer decided to take the risk, Garmin is unlikely to provide the support necessary to integrate that autopilot with the G1000.

Finally, the idea that you can use a TBM EICAS system as the basis for an E500 EICAS system makes no sense. One is a single engine turboprop, the other a twin engine turbofan. The only commonality between the two aircraft is the engine supplier, P&W.

Don't underestimate the time and expense of developing an EICAS system. Ask any engineer from Collins or Honeywell who has worked on an EICAS development for a twin turbofan.

Or for that matter, find an ex-Eclipse engineer and ask how much time was spent on systems definition, integration and certification issues related to EICAS.

Which version of the Eclipse will the G1000 support? Will there be one version that supports all the Eclipse configurations in the field? Or will there be one version that requires all the other upgrades to be completed?

An E500 G1000 update would cost the owner closer to $400 to $450K - if it was offered.

airtaximan said...

SCR:

not an easy situation, and made more difficult by choosing Mack.

possible findings:

1- nothing wrong here, move along

2- a few minor issues, easily resolved

3- some major issue, harder to resolve, but resolvable

4- major issues, cover up and wrong-doing in the issuance of the TC - difficult to resolve

In number 1, everyone will just say "the fix is in" - someone will say "why waste tax payers money on this anyways".

In number 2, eclipse gets a pass, and continues, and everyone really thinks the FAA does a pretty good job -aviation is saved for another day.

In number 3, everyone will say, I guess the FAA does a pretty bad job and should have caught all this stuff... the state of aviation safety is in jeopardy, and EAC has some real problems (besides the obvious ones) to deal with.

In number 4 - ain't going to happen... no way. With an "independent" instead of Mack, perhaps... but the appointment of this guy makes it appear as if there is no way someone at the top will get roasted, and EAC will get shuttered or have such additional serious problems that this is the defacto result. In fact, it begins to look like the investigation is designed to prove Pieper is correct when he says the plane is properly certified and safe -save the jobs... move along. Avoiding this finding would confirm there is no real problem at the FAA and there is no wrong-doing, and the state of the US aerospace industry is all well and good.

Had they chosen someone "more independent" than Mack, perhaps this would be easier to swallow. everyone is going to assume the fix is in, unless we see number 4 - and that is not likely.

somewhere between 2 and 3 is my guess...

Dave Ivedorne said...

What do the sources tell me?

Mr. Raburn has bought a Mustang!


Oh, for the love of all that is good and right - LET THIS BE TRUE!

...if only for the education of the Fluffboy Posse.

Considering how often its members would stop by here, responding to any criticism with 'facts' ripped directly from one of Vern's press releases...

Kennyboy waiting for new cockpit side windows that aren't on their way, while Vern's off flying his jet - HIS MUSTANG.

Mirage - still amused?

Would you like that 'served cold'?
DI

airtaximan said...

talking about the eclipse upgrades... you should look at the aerostar upgrades discussion on this blog from last week.

probably needs the same work... except for the engines

- new avionics
- new wing
- fuselage plug

hahah... kidding, sorta.

PS. I would add that FSW will have to be tested and retested for corrosion and fatigue BEFORE anyone wastes any more time on this - becasue the airframe could very well be scrap.

airsafetyman said...

"2- a few minor issues, easily resolved

3- some major issue, harder to resolve, but resolvable"

I vote for a 2.5 also. The report will be delivered in serious tone with appropriate furrowed brows. Might as well phone it in and save some taxpayer money.

fred said...

airtaxi :

#4- major issues, cover up and wrong-doing in the issuance of the TC - difficult to resolve #

difficult to resolve ?

not this much !

let offers some "vacations" in a funny house where food and beds are for free ...
thou it looks a bit strange with the bars at the windows ... and i really do not see why they put the same at the doors ...!!! ;-))

julius said...

DI,

Would you like that 'served cold'?

Please not - it's too hot!

I don't believe VR is buying a C510- unless there is a hard proof.
What about his friends flying / going to fly EA500? He will call them his victims, his idiots (Ed, Travolta et al.....)?

But on the other side it doesn't make any sense to buy a product of a company that's on the brink to TU...

julius

fred said...

flightcenter ::
#An E500 G1000 update would cost the owner closer to $400 to $450K#

am i following you right ?

E500 = 2.15 MillionsUS$ (pretended sale value) + $K 450 ?

how much costs a mustang ?

there is the value-offer touted by SUID-AFRIKANS kenny boy ?

all of this without any guarantee ???
disruptive , isn't it ?

fred said...

Julius ( gruss gott ! sorry wrong keyboard !)

Vern DOESN'T have friends ...

he has customers !

julius said...

airtaximan:

I vote for a 2.5 also. The report will be delivered in serious tone with appropriate furrowed brows. Might as well phone it in and save some taxpayer money.

How much is "2.5" in $$?
EAC is in "cost conservation mode"!
Mr. Mack must also look for the resulting expenses!

julius

julius said...

fred:
bon jour!
Vous avez raison!

Yes i forgot it!

julius

Ceri said...

Nice post re upgrade cost, flightcenter. Like Baron, I was assuming a G1000 upgrade as a basic necessity. Obviously you know more about the likely cost of this than I do. I wasn't sure why you thought Garmin wouldn't cooperate?

I also assumed that the autopilot wasn't junk ... my expectation is that it was implemented by a reputable company who would be able to undertake remedial work if required; and that in any case the autopilot problems are probably really Avio problems (pure guess).

I think the discussion boils down to 'is the cost of upgrades that make the plane a _sustainable_ long term VLJ less than the scrap value of the aircraft plus the cost of the upgrade?' I'd assumed it was ... maybe not. The scrap value of the aircraft is basically the value of the engines. Once the cost of upgrading the aircraft means that it's better just to sell the engines, it really is game over for the FPJ. That would be a rather sad indictment of how little Eclipse has managed to achieve, when you think about it - spend $1b+ and end up with only the value that P&W brought to the airframe.

If, however, the upgrade cost is such that you can undertake the upgrades and sell for more than the scrap value plus upgrade cost, there will be a market value for the current aircraft. Eclipse have done such a poor job of supplying a working aeroplane that the upgrades would really be non-optional; owners who couldn't afford them would just have to sell and pocket their losses.

If the upgrade cost is (say) 700k (avionics plus all other IOUs) and the engines are worth $400k (guess), that would make E500s worth upgrading if an upgraded aircraft would sell for more than $1.1m. This is exactly the spec that people have been willing to pay $1.5m for from Eclipse, so it seems likely that the airframes would be upgraded (...and implies that the second hand value of an as-delivered E500 would be $500k-$800k...ouch). Of course, the value of the upgrade biz just went up from my original $100m (250 a/c times $400k) to $175m.

It would make most sense for this to be undertaken by the new TC holder in conjunction with a third party firm doing the upgrades, to split development costs, I guess.
That would imply doing due diligence on the FSW as mentioned by ATM.

uglytruth said...

All this talk about upgrades, INOP stickers and the owners responsible for the costs……when you think about it, the FPJ is more like an expensive, incomplete, experimental do it yourself kit plane……if you really want something that’s useful and useable.

It’s far from what was promised, but I’m sure it’s been “disruptive” to anyone unfortunate enough to have gotten stuck with one.

Ceri said...

Second post, different topic, hopefully not so long...

Regarding ATM's 4 possible outcomes: I don't think the purpose of the review is to find fault and apportion blame (#4), it's to define a mechanism for fixing what might be wrong with the aircraft (#1,#2,#3). The Congessional enquiry would be the place for naming names, etc. The review is supposed to be a pragmatic exercise in improving the aircraft safety.

As such, you can only ever get recommendations, not opinions. Even if (say) they establish that FSW has serious issues, they can define remedial work to be undertaken, or define an inspection schedule, or both. It is possible that an issue of that type might make the airframes uneconomic, but the review has to address each problem individually on its merits. It can't just say 'oh, the whole package smells bad, we're grounding it'. If you owned an aircraft that was taken out of service in this way you would think that arbitrary and capricious (whoops, channeling Jacky Chiles there).

As Baron (I think) pointed out, historically reviews have allowed marginal unsafe aircraft to keep flying, by requiring more type training for crews (e.g. Mitsubishi & Caravan).

There's nothing to stop the review requiring work to be carried out that duplicates what should have been carried out as part of the TC process. But there won't be a searing indictment of how the TC was handled, because that's not what the review's for, as I understand it.

Dave said...

All this talk about upgrades, INOP stickers and the owners responsible for the costs……when you think about it, the FPJ is more like an expensive, incomplete, experimental do it yourself kit plane……if you really want something that’s useful and useable.

I believe the term "white elephant" applies: A white elephant is a valuable possession which its owner cannot dispose of and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) exceeds its usefulness.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_elephant
Depending on what happens to the FPJ, it could be added to the list of white elephants.

Ceri said...

uglytruth:"when you think about it, the FPJ is more like an expensive, incomplete, experimental do it yourself kit plane"

...but it's got a TC & PC, so it is presumed/required that it was produced to a pattern and that its problems can be fixed systematically. That's why it has residual value, if it does.

eclipso said...

http://www.doleta.gov/layoff/pdf/WorkerWARN2003.pdf


For the folks caught up in a mass layoff.

800....more to come

flyger said...

FlightCenter said...

Plus someone would have to design a new autopilot for the E500

Why? I don't see any immediate reason the Chelton AP can't be used.

I also don't see any reason the ACS computers can't also be reused to run the basic aircraft systems (fuel, power, etc).

That leaves taking out the IS&S panels and the 400Ws and putting in a G1000 set, whacking the MFD code to talk to the ACS/FADECS, and getting it certified.

I think it will cost $400K per airplane when all is said and done, but that converts a useless scrap heap into a viable and maintainable jet, so the return to the owner is there. You also have to include the FIKI and other mods. It doesn't matter that a Mustang would have been cheaper and better to begin with, the money is sunk in the EA500 and you loose less by upgrading.

The R&D will be $20-40M as stated. If everything goes well. Lots of potential snakes in the woodpile when you start playing with code and protocols between boxes, plus certification issues.

They aren't going to get to 300 airplanes in the fleet. They aren't going to get to even FIKI/Garmin airplanes given that we are at 245ish and that starts at 267. There's not 20 airplane's worth of inventory in parts and nobody is sending any more parts to ABQ. So the economics have to work out for 200 airplanes (they've already lost two to accidents, and not everyone will upgrade choosing to scrap them). It's close. At 500 airplanes, it would be a no brainer.

eclipso said...

http://www.doleta.gov/layoff/pdf/EmployerWARN09_2003.pdf





EMPLOYERS REQUIRED TO PROVIDE WARN NOTIFICATION
A WARN notice is required when a business with 100 or more full-time workers
(not counting workers who have less than 6 months on the job and workers
who work fewer than 20 hours per week) is laying off at least 50 people at
a single site of employment (see glossary and FAQs), or employs 100 or more
workers who work at least a combined 4,000 hours per week, and is a private
for-profit business, private non-profit organization, or quasi-public entity separately
organized from regular government.

eclipso said...

.....Lays off 500 or more workers (not counting part-time workers) at a single
site of employment during a 30-day period; or lays off 50-499 workers
(not counting part-time workers), and these layoffs constitute 33%
of the employer’s total active workforce (not counting part-time workers)
at the single site of employment;

eclipse_deep_throat said...

YES, they fucked over everyone this morning. Even **I** got laid off and I am essentially a non-commissioned officer in QA. So, screw the NDA that I signed. If I have to file personal bankruptcy, then I have no reason to keep their secrets anymore.

I first have to chat with the FAA and the NTSB ....since I have already communicated with them over the last few months.

Shit happens, eh?!

E.D.T.

eclipso said...

eclipsecriticng@gmail.com


EDT....contact Shane with any info for Feds

TBMs_R_Us said...

EMPLOYERS REQUIRED TO PROVIDE WARN NOTIFICATION

There are exceptions that would probably let EAC off the hook. One is if they are laying off less than 500 employees and the number laid off is less than 33% of the total workforce.

The other is the "faltering company" exception. EAC could arguably use this one also.

Afterburner said...

Not of any consolation to those affected:

EXCEPTIONS TO WARN NOTICE REQUIREMENT
There are three exceptions to the full 60-day notice requirement. However, in all cases, notice must be provided as soon as it is practicable. When notice is given in less than the 60-day timeframe, the employer must include a statement of the reason for providing less than 60 days’ notice in addition to fulfilling the other information notice requirements. The exceptions to providing the full 60-day notice are as follows:

• A "faltering company" is not required to give notice of a layoff or plant closing when, before the plant closing, it is actively seeking capital or business, which if obtained would avoid or postpone the layoff or closure, and if it reasonably believes that advance notice would hurt its ability to find the capital or business it needs to continue operating;

eclipso said...

TBMs_R_Us,

This is true....but the DOL will pay for retraining, tools, etc.

It's worth it to see what any of these folks can get, including un-employment to tide them over.

And also, maybe, just maybe, EAC will HAVE to admit they are faltering..(something we've all known here for a while)

eclipso said...

To many, it may not apply, however, I once had the same thing happen and they paid me for the sixty days.

It may not apply here, but a call to the local office could lead some workers to some help.

As before, the way these folks were treated was, and still is horrendous and we should try to point them in any directions we can for assistance.

Dave said...

EDT....contact Shane with any info for Feds

I think it would also be good if there was someone (or multiple people) with first-hand knowledge about the lack of JTIP training by Eclipse. If Eclipse submited fraudulent claims to JTIP over training that wasn't provided, that could potentially mean prison time.

AERO_PAINS said...

Do we know for sure Hampson is done?
and
How many people got laid-off today?

Thanks

AERO_PAINS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
airtaximan said...

is there a post here that describes the layoff today at EAC?

eclipso said...

ATM,

800...more to come

Shadow said...

Company reduces workforce by 38 percent

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - August 22, 2008 - Today Eclipse Aviation(r),
manufacturer of the world's first very light jet (VLJ), announced a
reduction in workforce as a result of its operational excellence
strategy introduced by CEO Roel Pieper at AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis.,
July 28, 2008. Eclipse is reducing its workforce by approximately 38
percent which includes temporary workers and people employed less than
six months. The reduction is an effort to achieve financial stability
as soon as possible. Eclipse is laying off approximately 650 employees
affecting all departments and facilities including Albuquerque, N.M.;
Gainesville, Fla.; and Albany, N.Y. Eclipse's total employment remains
at about 1,100. The impact of this action will be a slowdown in the
production of Eclipse 500s through 2008. In 2009, Eclipse intends to
increase production back to previous levels and higher.

"In my effort to take Eclipse Aviation to the next level of growth and
sustainability, I am 100 percent focused on operational excellence and a
plan to achieve it," said Pieper. "Financial stability is critical for
this company and unfortunately, a reduction in workforce was necessary
to achieve it. I am confident this action will set the company on the
path to profitability so that we can continue to lead the very light jet
category."

Eclipse will not be releasing any further information or conducting
interviews surrounding this press release at this time.

eclipso said...

Thanks Shadow....was looking for that.

How many people do you think will return if they WERE ever able to start production again...sheeesh!

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

Next, we’ll hear from the politicians that this is simply energy conservation . . . reducing the number of vehicles on I-25 during rush hour.

gadfly

(‘Something I can never remember: When you pull the cork in the tub, do the workers all run around in circles clockwise? . . . or counter-clockwise?)

Shadow said...

"Something I can never remember: When you pull the cork in the tub, do the workers all run around in circles clockwise? . . . or counter-clockwise?"

Counter-clockwise, just like the rotation of a hurricane.

fred said...

it is only a new politic for saving and costs management ...

next week , they will announce that they cut the electricity to save even more ...!

ok , bad joke !

how do they think getting cash inflow if there isn't any outflow of anything ?

sounds more and more crazy ...

as for upgrading the Fpj to nearly the price of a mustang =

lets say it is $K450 ...

$K 450 representing the bet on stability of FSW in future ...

so after gambling on chances Fpj could be possible ...

after gambling that planes would be delivered ...

after gambling that upgrade would be done ...

after gambling the plane can be serviced ...

after gambling it can be "normally" certified ...

after gambling you won't loose your family , flying them in such
...

Now , FSW Gambling ??

play Loto = it's faster and after all safer !!

Shadow said...

I have a question for you, Gad. When a aerospace company trips and falls on it's face, does it make a sound?

Dave said...

In 2009, Eclipse intends to
increase production back to previous levels and higher.


Even if that is true, why would potential employees that time around believe it? Eclipse has missed its targets so many times, why would people risk coming back to Eclipse (or joining Eclipse) should Eclipse attempt to ramp up in 2009? It seems like Eclipse would only get people very desparate for a job and whatever quality issues there are now, this would only increase in 2009.

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

I fail to share the N.M. politician's optimism of the layoffs and "retooling."
http://www.lcsun-news.com/ci_10275195

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Although not really surprising my heart goes out the 650 families effected by this recent development.

Hopefully EAC will provide reasonable efforts to smooth this transition for its' employees.

On a side note - anyone notice that the EA-400 is being advertised prominently on the Eclipse Southern PR, err, I mean ANN website? Funny, they are ripping off Subaru's stupid 'Love' campaign.

Again, my sympathies to anyone effected by the Eclipse layoff, best wishes and good luck.

It brings me no joy to have been right about this as literally thousands of families will ultimately be effected.

airtaximan said...

OK, I'll bite...

EAC Pre-"operational excellence"
750 planes per year require to B/E, which required 1,000 or so, direct assembly non-manufacturing employees...

EAC "operational excellence"
750 x .65 to B/E. which requires 1000 x .65 to B/E or so, deirect non-manufacturing employees...

OK, I get it.

PSST... beside the suppliers are falling off the turnip truck... aren't prices for systems and sub assemblies going to go up based on lower volume?

(I smell another layoff within weeks, a sthey achieve GREATER Operational Excellence.

gadfly said...

Shadow

Unless the hurricane is "down under" . . . and this one has been "down under" for years.

gadfly

("falls on its face"? . . . this one has been lying face down in the gutter for the last few years . . . and it's making whimpering sounds.)

airtaximan said...

Shadow:
I think you meant to ask Gad:


"When an aerospace company trips and falls on it's face, and it's founding CEO is not there to hear it, does it make a sound?

eclipso said...

Shadow said

Counter-clockwise, just like the rotation of a hurricane.



...unless you're below the equator

eclipso said...

...repeat of Gad...hard to keep up it's going so fast now

cybit said...

Eeek, that's going to leave a mark. Not surprising though. Did a VLJ for my college senior design project oh so long ago, the economics were pretty rough even with decent gas prices.

The air-taxi idea was great when the economy was booming, but it is hard to perpetuate during a recession, methinks.

Shadow said...

Yes, AT, that's what I meant to ask. LOL.

Dave said...

If Eclipse redesigns the production process, wouldn't the FAA have to approve the changes? I don't see how Eclipse could do this quickly if for no other reason than that the FAA would have to then approve all the changes. Is Eclipse claiming to be redesigning their production process as an excuse for what has gone on so far in the factory? If so, I don't think it will work.

Also if Eclipse has money to pay to redo the factory, why isn't Eclipse paying the refunds to customers? Why aren't all the retrofits being done? Afterall Eclipse's own website EclipseFacts.com gives a link showing that Eclipse set aside $40 million dollars to retrofit the FPJs to Avio NG, so there's no reason why all the FPJs can't have Avio NG and hence FIKI too.

uglytruth said...

Fred said: play Loto = it's faster and after all safer !!

I'll bet there are a lot of position holders that wish they did!

chickasaw said...

The beginning of this year Hampson said that they had the empanage contract for Honda as well as EAC. The building in Texas assembled the EAC parts that were manufactured in the UK and built on EAC fixtures.

My good wishes go to all the honest, hard working people associated with EAC.

Black Tulip said...

Gadfly and Shadow,

"When you pull the cork in the tub, do the workers all run around in circles clockwise? ...or counter-clockwise?"

Counterclockwise in the Northern hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern hemisphere according to Coriolis effect.

airtaximan said...

About the $40M... even IF they did set it aside at one point, I am sure, since Pieper just said they won't be doing the retrofits anytime soon... they are using the money, or have used the money.

I'm not saying they ever set it aside...

Dave said...

About the $40M... even IF they did set it aside at one point, I am sure, since Pieper just said they won't be doing the retrofits anytime soon... they are using the money, or have used the money.
I'm not saying they ever set it aside...


I'm just trying to make it very clear with Eclipse said about having money set aside for the Avio NG retrofits since Eclipse is touting that article as part of their "Eclipse Facts" campaign. If Eclipse wont even honor its own "facts"...

gadfly said...

Dark Blossom,

Machs Nichs! . . . either way, they're all going down the drain . . . and that was the point.

gadfly

(Aboard the sub we had a better plan for emergencies: Everybody forward, run "aft". Everybody aft, run forward. Everybody in the 'control room', jump up and down and scream!)

GettingReady2FileSuit said...

Eclipse Aviation Targets Financial Stability as CEO Roel Pieper Implements Operational Excellence Program
Company reduces workforce by 38 percent
ALBUQUERQUE, NM - August 22, 2008 - Today Eclipse Aviation®, manufacturer of the world's first very light jet (VLJ), announced a reduction in workforce as a result of its operational excellence strategy introduced by CEO Roel Pieper at AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., July 28, 2008. Eclipse is reducing its workforce by approximately 38 percent which includes temporary workers and people employed less than six months. The reduction is an effort to achieve financial stability as soon as possible. Eclipse is laying off approximately 650 employees affecting all departments and facilities including Albuquerque, N.M.; Gainesville, Fla.; and Albany, N.Y. Eclipse's total employment remains at about 1,100. The impact of this action will be a slowdown in the production of Eclipse 500s through 2008. In 2009, Eclipse intends to increase production back to previous levels and higher.

"In my effort to take Eclipse Aviation to the next level of growth and sustainability, I am 100 percent focused on operational excellence and a plan to achieve it," said Pieper. "Financial stability is critical for this company and unfortunately, a reduction in workforce was necessary to achieve it. I am confident this action will set the company on the path to profitability so that we can continue to lead the very light jet category."

Eclipse will not be releasing any further information or conducting interviews surrounding this press release at this time.

Dave said...

More details:
Next Monday and Tuesday, Eclipse top management plans to hold meetings with 130 top employees to discuss future plans for the business. Tuesday and Wednesday, it will meet with vendors to work out terms and conditions of pared-down supply contracts for the remainder of 2008 and possibly longer. Vendors who plan to do business with Eclipse face a substantial reduction in parts procurement rates as the firm slows down aircraft production to approximately one aircraft per week through the end of the year. Notably, Eclipse has been developing potential second sources for procurement of some key parts, a strategy that would allow the firm to replace some legacy problem vendors, sources close to the company told the Aviation Week Intelligence Network.

The production slowdown will delay deliveries of new Eclipse 500 aircraft equipped with all post-certification IOUs resolved, including flight into known icing [FIKI] certification and fitting the aircraft with dual Garmin GPS 400W navigation systems, among other upgrades. Terms and availability of FIKI and GPS400W retrofit kits, plus Avio NG and aero performance improvement package upgrades for older aircraft, are being reviewed.

Next Thursday, Eclipse plans to contact customers regarding company restructuring, further delays in delivery dates and additional options for installing avionics and aero modification upgrades. Eclipse, for instance, may allow customers, at their own expense, to take their aircraft to third-party authorized service centers for installation of upgrades and then seek reimbursement from the company at a later date.

In the coming weeks, Eclipse's layoffs and its continuing financial woes could affect customer confidence. Eclipse announced a $450,000 price increase in late May 2008, but the firm gave customers a 90-day window during which they could cancel their contracts and request refunds. Friday's announcement of 650 people being laid off and next week's expected key employee and vendor summit meetings may cause some customers to consider cancelling their orders. The potential cash-flow drain associated with refunding some customer deposits could further strain company finances.

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=busav&id=news/ELAYOFF08228.xml&headline=Eclipse%20Lays%20Off%20Another%20650

Shadow said...

I'm interested in what EA500 owners and position holders make of all of this disruptive news over the past few days.

airtaximan said...

Dave,

I get it... I get it.

I would not expect the company to change for the better under these circumstances - its a very bad situation that has gotten worse.

I cannot even imagine the logic of producing less planes and having profitability closer, not further... especially when the whole business case was for a "high rate-leading to lower cost" jet.

Then, there is always the question of the market - there is no justification for volume production of this plane. Even half the volume they were shooting for.

... and don't ask me for the answer - I coined the phrase DOA regarding the e500, remember.

I think you tell everyone immediately that your goal is to end up with producing the last 00 e500 planes over a longer period of time...with say 200 people or 300 people - these will be the guys who remain there, knowing what they are gettin into. You also admit you are going to develop another plane...maybe the E400, and you give yourself an a few execs 6 months to get a firm committment to productionize that plane, either in the US or wherever. That becomes your plan. LAstly, you stick to conventional manufacturing methods, and outsource everything. Stick to conventional pricing and volume... and be realisitic about the product and price. Once you do this... IF the plane is any good, perhaps someone will buy and field a fleet - and you can give them a discount for volume, and ramp up.

Just my 2 cents.

Orville said...

Eclipse, for instance, may allow customers, at their own expense, to take their aircraft to third-party authorized service centers for installation of upgrades and then seek reimbursement from the company at a later date.

Now that's a GREAT option...

Dave said...

I think you tell everyone immediately that your goal is to end up with producing the last 00 e500 planes over a longer period of time...with say 200 people or 300 people - these will be the guys who remain there, knowing what they are gettin into. You also admit you are going to develop another plane...maybe the E400, and you give yourself an a few execs 6 months to get a firm committment to productionize that plane, either in the US or wherever. That becomes your plan. LAstly, you stick to conventional manufacturing methods, and outsource everything. Stick to conventional pricing and volume... and be realisitic about the product and price. Once you do this... IF the plane is any good, perhaps someone will buy and field a fleet - and you can give them a discount for volume, and ramp up.

I think that would work for normal companies, but Eclipse has burned too many bridges. Unless a company was really desperate, why would they want to do outsourced work for Eclipse? Eclipse has abused suppliers so many times, suppliers would probably think they'd just be setting themselves up to get worked over even more. Ordinarilly it might work, but not with a company like Eclipse.

gadfly said...

It just occured to me that EAC is following our submarine emergency procedure to the letter. Next week, everybody in the control room is going to jump up and down and scream.

gadfly

(When is the captain going to shout, "Dive!, Dive! . . . take her deep"?)

Dave said...

Here's a recently obtained copy of Eclipse's business model:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:2006_08_22_143041_Model_of_a_sinking_ship_-_Aalborg_Marinemuseum_ubt.jpeg

got the t shirt said...

http://www.topix.net/forum/source/kob-new-mexico/T63H7DPPIE2FMD7OO

"Temporary employees and those with less than 6 months". You betcha! All the temps were let go a couple weeks back, remember? There were several of us with more than 2 years in the company that were let go. As far as this being "temporary", we were told this morning it would be up to us to check the website for jobs, as there would be no call backs. That alone speaks volumes. I just wonder how long the line's gonna be for those of us wating for them to kiss our asses?

As to the upper management. May all the dirty laundry come out now and may you all end up being a vocational "F" toy for your cellmate Tyrone. Or some "butch" in Peg's case. I used to have the utmost respect for her. Not now. She's no different than Vern.

A bunch of us went to breakfast this morning and all are in agreement eek-lipse is done here in ABQ. Anyone worth a shit will be gone now and you don't have the aviation base here like a Wichita, San Antonio, Tucson, Seattle, etc. if you were even allowed to start back up.

I'm not too worried about myself as work can be found. It's the "locals" that were given the bill of goods and now can't put food on the table. Thank you eclipse for pissing away everyone's dream.

Dave said...

May all the dirty laundry come out now

I'd recommend the dirty laundry be aired to those in local, state and federal government. Speaking of employer malfeasance to a government entity wouldn't be covered by an NDA. A lesson should be made of those responsible for what has happened. Things didn't have to go to this way.

Shane Price said...

Headline post updated

Shane

eclipse_deep_throat said...

One other point: who in their right mind wants to be a position holder NOW??! Industrial psychology aside ...the guys n gals that are left at EAC will be tasked with building a $2+ million jet with the knowledge in the back of their heads that their best friend(s) just got screwed. Survivor guilt, right?! I think I saw a/c 265 in SP11 yesterday, so what happens to the OWNER of that plane when he/she takes the keys, knowing that it was built by shell-shocked employees after the Black Friday 8-22-2008 Event? DayJet: ya wanna accept delivery of a few more planes now??! Ha!! This is now the airborne equialent of the RMS Titanic. Who on earth would really want an EA500 or 400 no matter what the price?

I for one am praying that the next version of EAC .....let's call it EclipseNG just for giggles... is one that has some kind of union protection for the grunts. Being with the company for over 2 *YEARS* had people refer to me as an "old-timer," if you can believe that. I have no delusions that senority played a role at all since it didn't prevent the axe from falling on me.

And YES, I was a local hire that was in the JTIP program and we all knew/know it was a sham, something I will send to Shane to decide if it is post-worthy. And the $$$ that I spent at TVI/CNM for their aviation program was surely a waste of the last 2+ years for me. Maybe I can petition the Governor or Mayor to REFUND my tuition dollars so they forclose on my house in October and not September...
:(

E.D.T.

baron95 said...

This is my reading...

1 - They have parts(maybe not all) on hand for 20-odd shipsets.

2 - They know they will not get external financing till the reviews are completed, the final count of cancelations is in, etc.

3 - They cut the workforce to those needed to build 20-odd planes (1 a week) through the end of the year.

4 - They will offer existing owners the option to upgrade their planes by paying Eclipse now (kind of a jump ahead of the queue thing), in exchange for some future compensation (e.g. free training, free JetComplete) that may include restitution if/when Eclipse is financially sound.

5 - On Monday/Tuesday, remaining employees will be required to take pay cuts, etc.

6 - On Tuesday/Wednesday, suppliers will be asked for new terms.

7 - On Thursday it will be customer's turn.

All the while Pieper will be saying, if you don't go along with it, we have to shut down now, all employees are fired, all contracts are cancelled, all owners/depositors get nothing.

It is the longest of the long shots, but it is still better than Pieper putting more of his money to make planes at huge losses.

Next week will be quite interesting. Lets see if he has a plan or is just cutting his finger today, his hand tomorrow, his arm next month.

gadfly said...

"Lets see if he has a plan or is just cutting his finger today, his hand tomorrow, his arm next month."

My question is, "How come the blood seems to be pouring out just under the chin?"

gadfly

(Now where did we put those "Band-Aids"?)

baron95 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...

Per AVweb the Hampson factory working on Eclipse only worked on Eclipse:
Hampson Aerospace in Grande Prairie, Tex., which makes the tail section of the aircraft, has only a skeleton crew left due to "an absence of demand" from Eclipse, which is that plant's only customer.
http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news/EclipseCutsWorkforce_198647-1.html

I'm curious on how not having any products go out is supposed to lead to profitability - is finding a new round of suckers to throw money down a rabbithole considered profit? I also though Eclipse said it had already secured the new round of financing and that was why Vern was fired. Is Eclipse lying now or did they lie then (or both)? This does seem very strange that the CEO was fired as a condition of the new round of financing, then Eclipse went and acted like the financing was just about to clear and now they're acting like they're searching anywhere for money...it doesn't add up (I agree with firing Vern but the alleged events surrounding his termination aren't adding up).

baron95 said...

To lighten the mood for the weekend.... and to embrace our british press coleagues with the most ballanced transportation coverage in the world...and to celebrate French engineering...

French Super Vehicles

Fred, you are excused from watching to the end ;)

Dave said...

To lighten the mood for the weekend.... and to embrace our british press coleagues with the most ballanced transportation coverage in the world...and to celebrate French engineering...

That's what the depositors should have bought with their deposit!

Just zis guy, you know? said...

6 - On Tuesday/Wednesday, suppliers will be asked for new terms.

At least one (HA!) will tell them to sit and spin. Of course, they're really good at replacing suppliers....

Shane Price said...

Richard Aboulafia is Vice President, Analysis at Teal Group. He is a well known long term critic of EAC, and has titled his most recent 'letter'

Dear Fellow Anti-Disruptive Technologists

I think you understand which side of the fence he is on, right there. The Teal Group produce (among many other things) forecasts of output for 135 aviation companies worldwide. With one notable exception.

EAC.

It would seem that Richard refused to forecast on the very simple basis that he did not believe a word coming from EAC. For that alone he deserves credit...

Anyway, he gave us a nice mention at the end of the current letter, as follows:-

In September, we’ll produce Teal Group’s first Eclipse report. If you want to keep updated on Eclipse’s eclipse, see the endlessly entertaining Eclipse Critic blog, http://eclipsecriticng.blogspot.com.

Thanks Richard, I'm returning the favor here and I look forward to reading your report myself.

www.tealgroup.com

Shane

flightguy said...

http://www.richardaboulafia.com/shownote.asp?id=277

flyger said...

Dave said...

Eclipse, for instance, may allow customers, at their own expense, to take their aircraft to third-party authorized service centers for installation of upgrades and then seek reimbursement from the company at a later date.

Eclipse gets to sell parts to third parties so customers pay for their "free" upgrades. If you are an owner, you *have* to do this lest you be left with a non FIKI, non FMS airplane worth nothing on the market and limiting your use. If you don't buy your own upgrades, you may never get the chance to do it once the company folds.

Pieper is a genius, I say! He turned a liability, doing the free upgrades, into short term revenue, selling the parts, with no labor resources required. How cruel is that for the owners who have airplanes?

So, by the time you pay for the airplane itself, then pay for the upgrades, then get shafted by a third party learning to install them, then have to maintain an orphaned fragile airplane, you could have bought a Mustang for less, right?

Dave said...

Richard Aboulafia is Vice President, Analysis at Teal Group. He is a well known long term critic of EAC, and has titled his most recent 'letter'

He's called it right in every mention that I've found of him going back years. Here's a podcaset of him from 7/06:
http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/science_news/4216370.html
He also explains why the FAA benefits by having high VLJ sales projections.

I also found this that I don't even remember seeing before:
Additionally, he´s questioned Eclipse´s reports of firm orders for the last 10 years, which have ranged from 2,400 to more than 2,700. In fact, Aboulafia has challenged Raburn to release company records to prove firm orders exist.
http://jets.ru/monitoring/2008/06/02/vlj

Now who is "ignorant and stupid" Mr Raburn?:
http://www.ainonline.com/news/single-news-page/article/eclipses-raburn-reacts-to-swipe-from-teal-analyst-aboulafia/?no_cache=1&cHash=3c7fb72e87

Shane Price said...

Baron,

Shane, your headline post and all the attention on the SCR team lead are doing a disservice to the blog, the Eclipse owners and future pilots.

Sorry Baron, but I can't let that pass....

1. I've checked, and no one here looked for the FAA to review the FAA. We wanted someone else to look at the TC and PC process, because the FAA staff who were on the ground complained, through the only channel available to them. Were you on the ground in EAC in 2006? Thought not...

2. Why did the FAA decide, for the very first time that any of us can find, to implement a 'Special Certification Review' of an aircraft with no fatal accident record, and arrange that the '30 day review period' would end the week before the DOT IG hearings are scheduled. Don't you think this is a bit strange? Thought not...

3. Do you know who Forward Observer is? Thought not...

I'm going to finish with the key phrase which prefaced the end of the largest, longest lasting and most powerful empire the world is every likely to see. No, not the 'Pax Americana' but Roman antiquity.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

When you lie back and let an agency, charged with your personal safety, police it's own decisions the road to ruin is laid out, all wet, slippery and downhill right in front of you.

I've written this with the greatest respect for your carefully argued comment, Baron.

My normally cheerful outlook has taken a battering today as the inbox has several heartrending notes from stressed ex employees.

Please lets all remember that many of them will go home tonight, trying to explain what happened. It will be hard times in ABQ tonight and this makes me very sad.

Shane

anonymous avionics engineer said...

Shane:

As it makes any of us who still have friends there.

Shane Price said...

Flyger said

So, by the time you pay for the airplane itself, then pay for the upgrades, then get shafted by a third party learning to install them, then have to maintain an orphaned fragile airplane, you could have bought a Mustang for less, right?

Now that you put it like that, I begin to suspect that Mr. Raburn might, finally, have made a sensible decision involving a VLJ.

Shane

baron95 said...

Shane, I didn't understand your comments, nor what you are apparenty disagreeing with me on.

If your point is that we were influential in getting the SCR, started, I agree. That was my whole point.

ONLY the FAA can start an SCR - no one else has that authority.

You are may be confusing the SCR - "Is the EA500 safe and in compliance with the FARs?" with the DOT Inspector General and Congressional investigation "Did the FAA award the TC/PC to Eclipse improperly".

Two different things, mate. The SCR may provide ONE of several inputs to the IG/Congressional investigation, but it is NOT the same.

And I, for one, don't give a flying f#@# if the TC was awarded improperly. I just want to know that the plane is safe and conforms to the FARs. It it iw, I could care less about what procedural items were shortcut due to political influence.

So my point again, let the SCR team do the job that we wanted them to do. And that is answer the question if the EA500 is safe and conforms with the FARs, or what needs to be changed to make it so.

Period. Don't charge or expect the SCR team and Jerry Mack to spend one nanosecond looking into political influence and dealings.

Not their job and I don't want them to waste their time on it. There are more important things for them to do, namely - Is the plane safe?

airtaximan said...

Shane-

Let's see:

Csssna

OR

Eclipse

Hmm...


I wonder how Vern is going to testify about quality, value, market potential and viability of EAC when HE bought a Mustang?

airjet said...

E-mail to CEO/Chairman XXXXX Company 22August2008

ECLIPSE SITUATION

Hi --

I think it will get much worse, and looking at clues I don't think Eclipse
will be around much longer in their current form. This may have
significant impact on NXXXXX being a viable tool for XXXXX business use.

1. The FAA is conducting a major review of the EA500.
2. Eclipse has announced major lay offs.
3. Many suppliers are shutting down affecting parts availability.
4. Production is halting which means no cash flow.
5. Bad press which will only get worse as FAA review is conducted.
6. Layoffs will affect Avio NG upgrade and current mx.
7. Pending additional bad press and regulatory directives on engine shutdowns.
8. Pending additional bad press and regulatory directives on fire retardant cabin and cockpit.
9. Bad press about the bad press and much more during the review and hearings.

I just wanted to pass this on given the record of NXXXXX's past reliability. The
circumstances will only get worse, and the Eclipse will have all eyes focused
on it during this tribulation. We are moving ahead into an icing period which our
Eclipse is not certified.

I feel duty-bound as a XXXXX employee to make you aware of the full
ramifications of the current events at Eclipse. We will try our best to keep
it flying, but you as well as I know what the past track record has been
on this aircraft. My number one duty as a pilot for this company is safety.

Thank you.

XXXXX

Orville said...

I wonder how Vern is going to testify about quality, value, market potential and viability of EAC when HE bought a Mustang?

If in fact, it's true that VR bought a Mustang - then that is what I refer to as "the last great act of defiance". Similar to the picture of the little mouse giving the elephant the finger.

Dave said...

Period. Don't charge or expect the SCR team and Jerry Mack to spend one nanosecond looking into political influence and dealings.

I don't think it is their job to look into those dealings, but they also shouldn't be a part of the political influence and dealings. With what we know of the SCR team, it gives the appearance of being part of the political influence and dealings. Having a aviation manufacturer lobbyist with ties to the AIA lead the team, it doesn't look good.

airtaximan said...

imagine what would have happend had they succeeded in shuttering this blog?

airsafetyman said...

If the TC or PC was awarded under political influence, then the safety of the aircraft is an open question. It may be safe or it may not be safe, but it hasn't been proven to be safe. If you bought a car where the crash tests were faked it might be OK in a medium collision, or the engine may wind up in the trunk, after passing through your family. Want to take on the odds?

baron95 said...

Dave said ... With what we know of the SCR team, it gives the appearance of being part of the political influence and dealings.

I was probably the first one on this Blog to ask/suggest a SCR and put forward the items that I'd like to see focus on.

I'm delighted that the FAA is doing the SCR in such short order. They were not required, nor did I expect them to name an outsider as a team leader.

I don't know Jerry Mack, but reading his experience, bio and career and I entirelly comfortable that he will do a competent job.

You CAN NOT have people with executive certification experience that does not know, socialize, etc with FAA management, administrators and politically appointed individuals. That is just how it is. And people tend to appoint people for a tough job that they know and trust. That is just how it is.

You may not believe this, but it is NOT that easy for accomplished and successful individuals like Jerry Mack and professional FAA certification team members to collectively put people's lives at risk to return a political favor.

People are just not like that, and to imply otherwise is just distasteful.

Shane Price said...

ATman said:

imagine what would have happend had they succeeded in shuttering this blog?

My first reaction on reading this comment was

Not on my 'watch'.

Then I decided (with your 'Honor Roll' permission) to reword it, for the record.

Imagine what would have happened if Gunner had not counter attacked on behalf of this blog?

Shane

cybit said...

With what we know of the SCR team, it gives the appearance of being part of the political influence and dealings. Having a aviation manufacturer lobbyist with ties to the AIA lead the team, it doesn't look good.

I think this is more of a case of people assuming a fix is in, and looking for evidence to support their conclusion. You know a total of one person on the SCR team, who basically has everything qualification wise you would need to oversee an investigation. People keep saying "get someone better", but who? By your standards, we need someone who has:

Knows the FAA certification process inside and out, as of at the earliest, 2006. (when EAC was being certified) Also needs to have years of experience on both sides of the certification (industry and FAA), otherwise he'd be too new and "easy to manipulate".

Has no connections with the FAA. (can't investigate itself)

Has no connections with the AIA. (so no industry people, since most companies are in the AIA)

Has no connections with Marion Blakely.

Has no connection with Eclipse.

Really?

baron95 said...

airsafetyman said...
If the TC or PC was awarded under political influence, then the safety of the aircraft is an open question.


And for the EA500 pilots and owners and passengers and their families and people on the ground, what is more important:

1 - Conduct a full certification review to make sure it is safe and in compliance or note the deiciencies, or

2 - Find out if/who/when someone influenced who to bypass some bureacratic procedure?

I care deeply about 1 (as I am an aviation safety nut) and have a passing curiosity for 2.

Some people here want to make both into the same thing. It is not.

airsafetyman said...

"You CAN NOT have people with executive certification experience that does not know, socialize, etc with FAA management, administrators and politically appointed individuals."

The guy is WORKING FOR the former Administrator who is under a cloud and also WORKING FOR the membership of the lobbying group of which Eclipse is a member. There is NO WAY this is not a conflict of interest and there is NO WAY anyone in that position who thought about it for five seconds would accept the assignment.

airsafetyman said...

"1 - Conduct a full certification review to make sure it is safe and in compliance or note the deiciencies, or

2 - Find out if/who/when someone influenced who to bypass some bureacratic procedure?"

You need both, and no reason not to have both. If there were people who were unduly influenced and caved to pressure you need to get them out of the certification process before history repeats itself.

Dave said...

Knows the FAA certification process inside and out, as of at the earliest, 2006. (when EAC was being certified) Also needs to have years of experience on both sides of the certification (industry and FAA), otherwise he'd be too new and "easy to manipulate".

You lose credibility when you put words in the my mouth and make up false quotations. When you do such things you're only succeeding in re-enforcing my opinion of Mack rather than persuading me. It was you who brought up experience on both sides of the table and now you are attempting to refute me by labeling your own statements as mine and then on top of that you put up a quote that I never said. Though I don't agree with all of Baron's response to my post, he at least didn't invent false quotations when replying.

Dave said...

Some people here want to make both into the same thing. It is not.

Actually I think that is up to Oberstar. He could do that at his option, but isn't required to nor is he required not to. Congress has a free hand to investigate things as it sees fit.

Dave said...

SCRs might even be rarer than first described:
http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news/LibertyDeniesUndergoingCertificationReview_198648-1.html

cybit said...

The guy is WORKING FOR the former Administrator who is under a cloud and also WORKING FOR the membership of the lobbying group of which Eclipse is a member. There is NO WAY this is not a conflict of interest and there is NO WAY anyone in that position who thought about it for five seconds would accept the assignment.

Really? Where in the investigation is Marion Blakely charged with anything? Is she even brought up? I see no connections except for the ones that y'all accuse her of. All of a sudden, if something happened under her administration with Eclipse, it obviously means she had direct influence and ordered the FAA to bend to the will of Eclipse.
Right on.

With that taken care of; if Boeing or Lockheed can't get preferential treatment from these connections, why the hell do you think Eclipse would? The biggest companies in the world, with millions of dollars in lobbyists, can't get things to go their way. But Eclipse will. For a group led by the former FAA administrator, it sure doesn't seem like they have much in the way of favors from the FAA.

cybit said...

Dave,

My apologies. I did not intend for that to be taken as something you said, but as a likely retort should someone with those qualifications be installed as the head of the SCR. The quotes were for idiomatic clarity.

The idea is: people are looking for anything to scream conspiracy.

Shane Price said...

Baron,

How can you, in any logical manner, defend the FAA asking itself questions?

That's why the grunts doing the certification went to their union rep. The managers were so 'gung ho' to issue the paperwork (on that fateful Saturday, at the end of the FAA 'year') they refused to listen to their own people.

Your point about anyone capable of doing the review inevitably knowing senior people in the FAA is EXACTLY why this is a total charade.

Even if the people involved think they are doing things by the book.

Even if they think they are totally focused on the safety of people flying the FPJ.

Even if they find the certification process was flawed to the core.

It's still a bonkers way to proceed.

No one can have faith is such a fundamentally flawed process.

I repeat.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Now, I have to go to the pub. It's Friday and a few of us like to get together and discuss Plato's Republic, speaking Latin of course.

OK, I know. It's not Latin, it's what Irish men talk about in an Irish pub, in Ireland.

On a Friday.

Shane

airtaximan said...

I can just see Shane and his friends..

"you'll never believe what's going on in ABQ!!!"

Shane, you a good man! Enojy the pint...

cybit said...

Send me some beer Shane....lord knows I need it at work.

You're also right about the FAA investigating itself; it's not a good system. Unfortunately, it's the only one we got. (this is not a phenomenon limited only to the FAA) However, it's proven decently effective over the years, so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.

As for who guards the guardians, the FAA spent a lot of time making sure no one got to do that.

Dave said...

My apologies. I did not intend for that to be taken as something you said, but as a likely retort should someone with those qualifications be installed as the head of the SCR. The quotes were for idiomatic clarity.

OK, just it does make it difficult to talk to someone who contradicts themselves by essentially arguing with themselves. Other than perhaps Baron (I don't recall one way or the other), you're the only one to have mentioned being on both sides of the table as a positive qualification.

The idea is: people are looking for anything to scream conspiracy.

Ordinarilly lobbyists are not held in high regard irrespective of the industry (people on the street don't exactly go and sing praises about K Street) and this guy's last involvement with certification was over a decade ago. I'm quote sure there's people who have retired with more recent hands-on experience and who don't list lobbyist as their last job. It's not that this guy has no qualifications, just his recent qualifications are a turn off for his assigned task - that's why I've said he's better qualified to be a consultant FOR Eclipse than an auditor OF Eclipse. I've so far not heard you disagree with me that his resume would be better suited toward that.

Turn-and-Burn said...

Please lets all remember that many of them will go home tonight, trying to explain what happened. It will be hard times in ABQ tonight and this makes me very sad.

Shane


Just remember, you were, and continue to be, all part of this outcome as well. Sleep well.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Guys, we only know Mack's name, there are 6 or 7 other participants.

I know it has become de-rigeur to see political intrigue behind every special prosecutor or inspector but I think we are not making any headway here.

Those of you who think the fix is in have made your point pretty clear.

Those of us who do not suspect Machiavellian ulterior motives to the SCRT have made our point.

There are two separate but equal events going on here.

The SCR will review the airplane and how (maybe even IF but I doubt it) it meets the regulations. Typical outcome is additional operational training to overcome certain characteristics (ala R-22 and MU-2) that are certified but which are also problematic. For the EA-500 I will lay odds that there are changes to the AFM and training re: landing.

It is possible, although unlikely IMO, that we will also see issues re: Avio NfG, at least training and perhaps some design issues.

That will be the result of the SCR IMO.

Rep. Oberstar's hearings will address the FAA staff complaint. I suspect that the FAA will be in trouble after this, but the hearings are really going to be about the FAA, not about Eclipse per se. I believe the hearings will name names in the FAA, and there will be consequences for FAA. That will be based on testimony from FAA and Eclipse staff. Nothing will happen to Eclipse from Congress.

After the FAA is beat up, they will reschedule the ACSEP audit at EAC, and the PC will be pulled, probably by the end of October.

I am not sure EAC will last that long, but I think they will lose their PC due to the ACSEP audit.

Take the above as you wish, but almost everything I predicted on July 28 has come to pass in the last 3 weeks, still waiting for refunds and the switch to G1000 and I am not sure they can swallow that pill.

Dave said...

I know it has become de-rigeur to see political intrigue behind every special prosecutor or inspector but I think we are not making any headway here.

The media has reported there's political intrigue going:
Sources close to the Eclipse 500 program said that FAA was eager to complete the review and publish the results by September 12, 2008, prior to a hearing regarding FAA's EA 500 certification process to be held by the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on September 17, 2008.
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=busav&id=news/REVIEW08208.xml&headline=Eclipse%20500%20Gets%20Special%20Certification%20Review

gadfly said...

Here we sit, awaiting the final decision of “His Most Excellent Highness, Alibama” of the Windy City” (Chicago, for those in Rio Linda, CA), to announce his running mate . . . and it occurs to me that “nuestro Gobernador del El Estado del Nuevo Mexico” wanted to someday live in the “White House”. As we wait the decision of “His Excellency”, either way, our Governor Gordo will not live in “La Casa Blanca”. So, to make it up to the man, who of late has taken on a little extra girth, and gone without shaving, evidently “for nothing”, we can send him to the “Big House”. Hey, both facilities are federally funded with 24/365 services . . . and he has certainly earned the “right” . . . and as of this morning, he has at least 650 more folks that would support the “cause”. He could even include many of his local political “collaborators” . . . who also helped spend tax money on the little bird, and even as of this morning, continue to put a positive spin on this . . . . . . . . . . . “event”.

gadfly

(Not sixty seconds ago, I put down the phone . . . and I’m ‘just now cooling down after the conversation . . . Eclipse is in deep “doo-doo” . . . and some of their folks still don’t know it.)

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

The desire to have the initial SCR results BEFORE Oberstar skewers the FAA makes perfect sense. IF there is evidence the plane does not meet the reg's, Oberstar would want/need that to support his committee's hearings.

One COULD argue the fix is in and it is against EAC. I am not going to but there is just as much actual evidence to support that conjecture as there is the other.

If you want to know how this is going to play out, go back and review the Southwest/AA vs. FAA vs. FedGov issue from the beginning of the summer.

Dave said...

One COULD argue the fix is in and it is against EAC

That at least would be better than acting like nothing abnormal is going on. No matter how high of regard you have for Mack, it is hard to see how he could do a thorough job if he submits his final report the day the inspection ends...he's got 30 days to get himself up to speed on conducting inspections, managing the Eclipse inspection and writing the report. Not exactly a lot of time to be thorough.

Dave said...

it occurs to me that “nuestro Gobernador del El Estado del Nuevo Mexico” wanted to someday live in the “White House”

Bill Richardson is the biggest waste of political talent I've ever seen. If he had been more ethical during his career, he probably either would already be in the White House or would be headed there shortly. To my knowledge Richardson has the best political resume around.

Krupal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deep Blue said...

A general comment about how perhaps to organize some criticism of the Eclipse program, especially as a “case study” for the industry.

It might be separated into at least four "buckets." While they are all inter-related, comingling them can be confusing and misleading.

1. The aircraft itself: it started out as a development project aimed at producing a sub-million dollar twin engine part 23 GA jet airplane. This initial value proposition is what really turned our heads (the E400 may be the better incarnation of the original objective). This category also includes thrust (I would argue that the PWC 610 project is important and developmental in small-turbine design); post-sales technical support is a related element in this category as well.

2. The production pro forma: another development project aimed at unusually high build rates to mass produce/assemble the aircraft, with certain economies expected to be realized, and shared. It does appear that suppliers were organized as somewhat involuntary risk partners into the production plans and friction was inevitable.

3. Venture management: It exhibited all the usual features of a mission project where the objectives--price/value breakthrough--were admirable. The founder also appeared to exhibit all the usual traits of entrepreneurs, including their difficulties. The elements of control and governance appeared somewhat typical for new ventures as well (i.e. weak). How would the Eclipse management culture and methods hold up under different product scenarios? i.e. suppose they produced ipods instead of jets? Is it universally flawed?

4. End-user applications: The air taxi buyers (essentially Dayjet) were making similar big bets; this model too holds out the promise of more affordable private jet service as an alternative to mass transit airline services. A similar admirable undertaking but one that will take decades to mature. Dayjet has contributed several important building blocks to the model. But is the VLJ or E500 a built-to-purpose air taxi vehicle? Probably not.

Surrounding and intertwining all these elements is the issue of individual and institutional judgment; something that will be debated (and revealed) for a long period.

So I think as you look at these four issues separately, many interesting questions and potential lessons arise.

For example, if Eclipse had set their production levels (and cost structure) to 50 custom aircraft a year, how would we receive the aircraft vis-a-vis competition/substitutes? Is the aircraft inherently attractive?

I think that answer (assuming engineering conformity) depends very much on price and the trade-offs that represents (flight performance, seating capacity, features, operating cost, after-market support etc). Moreover, does a production level affect aircraft design? Did EAC's pro forma adulterate the inherent engineering; did it help it in any way? How are they related, exactly? Are single product (versus line extension manufacturing i.e. Cessna) manufacturers viable in this industry?

As for EAC's $1B burn, I'm not quite as critical as say Richard Aboulafia. The airline industry lost (operating losses; cash) over $50B over the last five years: the American Stock Exchange Airline Index lost $100B in value. What did we get for our money? What ambition was being pursued? I suspect the industry will get at least $1B worth of engineering, management, production and design lessons out of the EAC project.

As for speculation on the internal machinations of Eclipse, the departure of the founder is troubling and telling. This doesn’t happen unless some fundamental failure occurred, or, the founder reacted emotionally to various challenges. I think many of the bloggers have a visceral contempt for the founder and frankly, his behaviors do not invite credibility or a least generate serial doubt. I think the fears many aviation professionals have concerning myriad potential design/safety issues are credible and deserving of full consideration.

My gut tells me that the aircraft (not the engines or many of the components) simply failed as a design project exacerbated by financial pressure stemming from investor expectations and the company’s capital structure.

So production (and especially at such ambitious levels) was an exercise in futility given the inherent engineering faults that were not apparently resolved. This may be a complicated way of simply saying that production was illogical given the immaturity (i.e. incompleteness) of fundamental product engineering.

Moreover, as the E500 fly-away price converged with the Mustang, its value/differentiation effectively disappeared: price was fundamental to the potential success of the E500/400. The whole project was a price play; that failed as well, although the industry will in the future undoubtedly figure out how to build a smart, sub-1MM twin jet.

I realize the tone of this note sounds like a post mortem; perhaps my instincts took over as my business judgment (30 years aviation operations, management, startup experience, 10,000 hour ATP, aviation consultant)tells me the Eclipse company and the product line, are already failed with little likely recovery/adaptation potential. Russian production is unlikely.

Regards and thanks for the indulgence of a lengthy entry. I hope it is helpful.

cybit said...

I think he'd be both a good consultant and a good auditor. The skills set and experience for those two positions tend to line up close to dead on.

The AIA hires lobbyists, but aren't lobbyists themselves...it's just like any other trade organization in any other industry. But I think CWMOR is right, we're flogging this horse pretty hard. Let's see the outcome before we worry about whether the fix was in or not.

Dave said...

Regards and thanks for the indulgence of a lengthy entry. I hope it is helpful.

I'm not in agreement with everything you said, but I thought you made a very good post.

julius said...

CW:
There is the FAA Statement:

The FAA convened this Special Certification Review (SCR) team to look at: aircraft safety, certification of aircraft trim, flaps, screen blanking, and stall speeds. These issues were the subject of Service Difficulty Reports (SDRs) that have been filed by operators since the aircraft was certificated on September 30, 2006. The team will look at whether or not any of these issues were raised during the certification process and if any of the issues are currently a threat to safety.

For example
"Screen blanking" will address
software and hardware issues - if you put the right question.
Who breaks first: the computer (AVIO; AVIO NG) or the Pratts in case of high gs? Remember Brandywine! If AVIO NG is ok but AVIO fails ...Is it tested?... etc. ...

I think Mr. Hickey tried to find someone who will cover his b...ack,
then the customer and perhaps then the credibility of FAA.

Perhaps I am already spoilt: I am
sure that the SCR is instrumental for Oberstar's investigation.

I know the official report will give the answer (also for EASA employees...).

julius

eclipso said...

T&B said:

Just remember, you were, and continue to be, all part of this outcome as well. Sleep well


This blog was/is NOT a part of the outcome. The outcome was decided by the egotistical, malfunctioned, incompetent management and CEO. All the blog does is point out the obvious!

gadfly said...

In my work, I’m privileged to communicate with folks who work at the “shop floor level” . . . and saw what a man by the name of “Jack Welch” did to the aviation industry a few years back . . . throwing folks under the bus as he looked only at the cheapest price. Quality, service, and loyalty no longer meant anything . . . only the “next quarter profit”. And the stock market had a brief “orgasm”.

A little while ago, I received a phone call from someone at the “little bird factory” in desperate need of tooling (someone who no longer works for GE, because of Jack Welch , although he evidently doesn’t know that . . . yet), . . . and we discussed things like “Unigraphics” compatibility, and a few other things. It seems that Eclipse needs tooling . . . real soon, real fast . . . on “credit”. I made it clear that we would only do business COD or payment “up front” . . . and the discussion turned to things like “What’s your rate?” (which usually scares the socks off most people, except for those who know the true cost of good design) for work, and “by the way”, can we discuss NDA’s, and other items?

The discussion went downhill from there.

Clearly, Eclipse is in a “graveyard spiral”, or any term you wish to use. Our rates are not cheap . . . we are not the most popular act in town among those who are looking for a bargain . . . so when someone comes over to our shop they are in either desperate straits, usually figuring that maybe we don’t know ‘who they are’, or are dead serious about doing business.

We have a customer that does business on a “COD” basis . . . the bean counters played a funny game . . . but discovered that we’re the only act in town . . . actually, the only one in the US of A, who can meet their needs . . . but “once bit, twice shy” . . . and we continue to operate on that basis.

With a certain jet engine manufacturer, we still have a unique niche. But when Eclipse called us (my first time, ever), knowing what is common knowledge about our little shop, I had all the confirmation that I would ever require. Eclipse is DOA . . . no doubt about it.

When I shoot a snake, the tail wiggles for a long time . . . but there is no hope of recovery . . . Eclipse is definitely DOA.

gadfly

(Someday, after the “final rites”, we’ll have a good long talk about all this . . . but for now, we watch and wonder ‘just how many more people will be hurt, and how long this fiasco will last. What in the world does it take to make people wake up and smell the . . . skunk weed? Hey, folks, Them ain’t roses! And that flat striped thing on the freeway is not a “pussy cat”.

And, Dave, the word out among folks in high political positions is that the man that sometimes stops in, in Santa Fe, likes "blonds" . . . unlike an earlier person by the name of "Bill".)

Dave said...

Let's follow the money (or lack thereof)...

Vern was fired with the new round of financing. Note the present tense in describing receipt of the money:
Eclipse Aviation, manufacturer of the world’s first very light jet (VLJ), today announced it has received first funds in a new round of financing that will take the company to cash flow positive. Under the terms of the commitment and agreements, Founder and CEO Vern Raburn will step down and veteran executive and Eclipse Aviation Chairman Roel Pieper will become acting CEO effective immediately.
http://www.amtonline.com/article/article.jsp?siteSection=1&id=6087

Then we had this shortly afterward in regards to customers getting refunds:
“We have been briefly delayed in tendering customer refunds,” the spokeswoman told AIN. “All refunds are expected to be issued shortly following the close of the financing round.
http://www.ainonline.com/news/single-news-page/article/eclipse-aviation-in-cash-conservation-mode/

Now the futher time goes on, the more of a mirage refunds become. This was for something Roel said was already a done deal in regards to the financing. There's no reason to believe anything else coming out of Eclipse regarding IOUs. Figure whatever IOU Eclipse issues you're not going to get back...even if Roel says Eclipse already has the money in hand.

flyger said...

airtaximan said...

imagine what would have happend had they succeeded in shuttering this blog?

Uh, Eclipse would have failed just the same. Their situation was inescapable from day one.

The last thing we want is the Eclipse faithful thinking that Eclipse would have succeeded if only this blog had not existed. We all know that isn't true, but yet their faith is so strong some will blame us (that's part of the religion, never their fault). All we did was educate people what was going to happen, and we had very little impact on what did happen, at least in terms of Eclipse directly.

So we shouldn't be so smug about what we did because we didn't do that much. Indeed, the failure of Eclipse will hurt a lot of very good people very far from Eclipse, such as the entire GA industry. It will be a watershed event for how the FAA and the public view GA startups. The blog should not take credit for that lest someone actually think it was our fault.

gadfly said...

flyger

You are correct in your comments.

The bottom line is that if our efforts have helped to save one life, and/or contributed in the smallest way to putting down a fraud or scam, the efforts are not in vain.

gadfly

(And beyond that, we have an obligation to GA . . . the industry to which we owe much of our life's work.)

Dave said...

Even James Fallows is saying he got a call from someone in the FAA pointing out how fast the FPJ was certified:
Interesting news: So much is happening so fast at Eclipse Aviation that I'll have to catch up another time. But for later examination: a few months after I moved to Shanghai, in September of 2006. I heard from a friend in the FAA that it was worth noticing the way the Eclipse certification had so rapidly been approved.
http://jamesfallows.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/08/aviation_note.php

Dave said...

Here's Eclipse being disruptive:
http://www.windpress.com/20080821/66382/scheda.php
A publicly traded charter company put out an announcement saying that they're going to ask for a refund from Eclipse and rethink their strategy.

Shadow said...

T-N-B said: "Just remember, you were, and continue to be, all part of this outcome as well. Sleep well."

Are you seriously saying that this blog was the cause of the layoffs? This is like the end of Scooby Doo when the bad guy says, "I would've got away with it if it wasn't for you meddling kids." And Eclipse would've got away with the biggest pump-and-dump IPO scam had it not been for this blog.

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

"Are you seriously saying that this blog was the cause of the layoffs? "

It is never fun to be out of work when you dont want to be (been there myself a few times). However, the handwriting has been on the wall for at least a couple of years, and those within Eclipse were closest to the wall, and in by far in the best position to see this clearly. For the most part, those that are there and those recently fired are/were there because they chose to be. A new venture carries with it a higher employment risk than an established company under any circumstances, and more so when things arent going well. Every Eclipse employee made a choice to be an Eclipse employee and every choice involves tradeoffs. Hard to see these folks as "victims" no matter how unpleasant their circumstances may be in the short-term. Not evey choice we makes works out well, so we take the lumps and move on.

airtaximan said...

flyger,

I guess you are correct, and that was not my point... but I see yours.

I marvel at all the new posters and comments, here, these days...

So I imagine the blog is being appreciated by more and more folks.

That was the extent - and yes, the program was doomed and the product was DOA... nothing to do with us - that's for sure.

Thanks

airtaximan said...

"...even if Roel says Eclipse already has the money in hand."

yeah - he said they received the first money... and we knew it was $1 or so...


total BS... easy to see...total BS

Dave Ivedorne said...

Julius said:
I am sure that the SCR is instrumental for Oberstar's investigation.

I'll append that:
The SCR is instrumental to the FAA going into Oberstar's investigation.

It may not be the popular opinion here, but I'm not as concerned about a whitewash occurring during the SCR - BECAUSE of Oberstar's investigation...

Let's pretend an SCR didn't happen, and didn't produce results before the hearings begin next month. Oberstar asks about the certification "speed up', about the issues identified in the engineers' grievance, and for corroborating evidence. Just a guess - the FAA couldn't give him satisfactory answers, and couldn't give assurances that the FPJ is safe to the same extent that a manufacturer is required to. And if they could, there's a growing pile of SDRs & ASRSs suggesting otherwise.

In the absence of credible information that the WeeJet, as delivered, conforms to the Type Certificate; in the absence of credible data that the quality controls defined by the Production Certificate are being utilized 100% of the time, the FAA would be backed into a corner ( of their own making ) where their only option would be to ground the entire FPJ fleet ( which - although it seems like a really good idea - is irrelevant to the question of propriety in conducting this SCR the way it is being conducted ).

So the FAA is in the position of needing to do a VERY thorough review of issues raised during the certification process, as well as those that have arisen since deliveries started - and do so with a bare minimum of lead time. They need to have answers for Oberstar's committee four weeks nigh - and those answers better not be easily refuted ( and Eclipse & the group performing the SCR don't entirely know what information Oberstar has access to ). And yes, unquestionably, the FAA is covering their own asses here.

Oberstar's committee is NOT doing a review of the FPJ, they're doing a review of the FAA - they're using Eclipse as a case study for next month's issue of the Harvard Bureaucracy Review ( Under Oath Edition ) - "Is The FAA Functioning According To Its Charter?"

And the FAA is scrambling ( which is NOT good for Eclipse ) so they don't have to lie under oath. Vern - if asked any questions - will probably demonstrate that he's incapable of sticking to the truth ( we can hope, anyway... ).

My Wild-Assed-Guess as to the outcome is a bit less sanguine for the FPJistas. On that 1 to 4 scale that's been bandied about, my WAG is 3.2 - I predict a couple of ADs, and a number of DARs seeking new employment. The ugly implosion of the Greater Albuquerque Incomplete Aircraft Works will proceed unchanged, on its already evident schedule.

Would you like some Zesty Sauce?
DI

baron95 said...

Deep Blue said...
It might be separated into at least four "buckets."


DB, you left out the avionics and plane control a.k.a Avio.

That is the last remaining bit that they can't fix. If it were not for Avio, the plane would be mostly done, and Eclipse might be in diffrent position.

IF the EA500 had a full-functioning G1000 suite right now, there would be people buying it for $2.15M

Dave Ivedorne said...

I predict a couple of ADs, and a number of DARs seeking new employment.

For those DARs, I strongly suggest checking out the career opportunities available at Burger Depot. The pay sucks, the hours are long, and the work is demeaning - but the paper hats are Dead Sexy.

Would you to fill out an application?
DI, an EOE

uglytruth said...

Gad said: It seems that Eclipse needs tooling . . . real soon, real fast . . . on “credit”.

The man knew he cold not pay for the tooling when he was talking to you Gad. He's just a common thief disguised as a business man. No different than a street thug. Sure he's not responsible for cutting the check but he knew you would not get paid.

Hey lets spread the pain around so everyone gets a taste of it.

With Intel cutting back FPJ was the new savior in the area. Guess FPJ might have inherited some of Intel's problem employees.

flyboymark said...

Gosh! why does this all remind me of Jim Bede and the BD-5 JET
(for those of you my age...)


The wind in my face and the song "Ride of the Valkyries" playing in my head......

20yearmechanic said...

Ok, Here is the latest from ABQ. As you know ALL THE CONTRACT EMPLOYEES ARE GONE, COMPLETELY!. Hawker/Beachcraft had a Job Fair in ABQ last week and managed to pick up about 75 new employees. They will be starting ASAP if they want to cross the STRIKE LINE and if they don’t, they can start shortly after the strike ends. There was about 250 pinks handed out today and 2 of my friends got there’s. I’m hearing the engineering department is a ghost tow with only a handful remaining. Eclipse still has to deal with about 32 individual law suits filed by ex employees and one is said to be worth over a million dollars. You just cant fake a random drug test telling the employee they failed, just to get rid of them because she is a Lesbian and you the upper management don’t like that. Hampson is not the only vender to blow Eclipse off , WESTCO the supplyer of all there fasteners ( Rivets, Hi-Locks, etc ) and other bench stock items is said to be owed $23 Million, EWWWWWW that is allot of money. The best thing that could happen now is that CESSNA come in and buy this fledgling company and make it profitable.

Lessons Learned:

1. Never start an aircraft company and call your competition DINASORES and insult them at there own game and in there own industry.

2. Don’t steel employees from your competitor and offer $20k to move to ABQ for a six month contract. They just leave in six months and go back to Cessna and get another $3500 to relocate.

3. You can BS some of the people sometime, but not all of the people all the time.

4. Never say in an interview with a trade magazine that “ The biggest mistake your company made, was hiring aviation experts” Those people read the industry rags Dumb A**. They even posted it on the bulletin board letting the management know that they read Vern’s wonderful words of wisdom.

5. Lies will not be tolerated, they always find out in the end.

6. Never hire a production manager from an Auto industry when you are in the Aircraft Industry , especially when the company he cam from was in the tank.

7. If you promise a fully functional Aircraft, Deliver it as advertised. (100 planes faster then anyone? They didn’t work as advertised and weren’t all complete. That don’t cont for much of anything)

8. Don’t create a production environment that is not conducive to forward progress and the unwillingness to want to listen to the opinions of other experienced professionals.

9. Make sure your press releases are true and accurate and not trumped up hype. YOU ARE NOT THE FIRST VLJ, That would be the LEAR 23. Your plane even looks like a modern version of it.

10. GET YOUR TC and PC the way everyone else does, legitimately and not through political maneuvering and influence.

VERN! Your not BIL GATES! Nor will you ever be BILL GATES. You wouldn’t make a pimple on Bills A**


Just a thought.

20 YM

shoppin for the $$$ said...

On behalf of the aircraft job shoppers that worked and are still working at Eclipse; I would like to thank Vern for all he has done for us. The rate was high, the hours were plenty, and the coffee was free. If you start another aircraft project and need some help, do not hesitate to call us. Thanks again Vern, you did a great job selling everyone your dream!!!

PS - Is it true there may be a nanojet in the CAD system in the near future?

just zis guy, ya know? said...

20yrmechanic,

Whoever hires you is going to get a real gem. You've admitted that you don't care about your non-disclosure agreement, a legal contract that you willingly signed in exchange for employment. While in the employ of EAC, you cashed your paychecks while bad-mouthing them on this blog.

You claim to be concerned about the safety of those flying in the E500, yet you continued to participate in building what you considered an unsafe product.

You might want to research the meaning of the word "integrity", since it's apparently not in your vocabulary.

God help whoever hires you.

Dave said...

The best thing that could happen now is that CESSNA come in and buy this fledgling company and make it profitable.

I thought about that at one time, but now I can't see Cessna having much use for Eclipse - except to performing servicing and retrofiting the existing fleet rather than building more. Frequently companies that go under have good brand names and an otherwise good reputation, but I could see whoever picks up Eclipse risking damaging their own reputation.

just zis guy, ya know? said...

Gadfly,

Can you tell us the story again about your former boss going to jail? We never get tired of hearing about the old days, and it's been several hours since you regaled us with that tale.

20yearmechanic said...

Whoever hires you is going to get a real gem. You've admitted that you don't care about your non-disclosure agreement, a legal contract that you willingly signed in exchange for employment. While in the employ of EAC, you cashed your paychecks while bad-mouthing them on this blog.

You claim to be concerned about the safety of those flying in the E500, yet you continued to participate in building what you considered an unsafe product.



Now I don’t recall ever saying I engaged in substandard work, I FIXED ALLOT OF SUBSTANDARD WORK, and was told to do things that I knew was wrong (reported it). I bucked the system, and ECLIPSE Management soon after was looking for any excuse to get rid of me and labeling me A TROUBLE MAKER. I assure you that I have given a FULL REPORT to the investigator that is conducting the investigation for the congressional hearings that is coming up un September. FURTHER MORE I WILL TESTIFY if asked and I have a truck load of info and facts to unload to them, things I choose not to divulge here on the blog. WHY? Because it would scare the s**t out of most people, and I have fully disclosed all my info to this investigator. Thanks to Shane for putting him in touch with me. In fact KATHY! I have been dropping info to a certain ABQ JOURNAL reporter since June of 2007. DO I GIVE A F**K about a NDA? Hell Know I Don’t. I worry more about the people that fly and peoples lives, than profit or how much money I can make. If you have a misguided opinion of me, that is your problem. But I can assure you that I don’t give a s**t about being blackballed or being called a nark for telling it like it is at ECLIPSE. More people that worked there should come forward but wont because they don’t have the balls. For that alone they should lose there A&P license. I can confidently say the the ECLIPSE 500 is the biggest piece of S**T that I have ever worked on. Even if I did stay there to try to make a difference, the egotistical and arrogant management was not going to allow anyone with any knowledge of production, to change there FORD MOTOR CO way of thinking. THEY WILL ALL GET WHATS COMING TO THEM SOON.

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