I write things down. It's really simple, focuses me, helps me to analyze what's important and generally clears my mind.
So here goes.
As always when I do this, I start at the beginning. For me this was some two years ago, when I spent time researching an idea. In part it was a personal quest for an aircraft to fulfill a specific mission (Ireland to North America, owner flown) and grew into a business idea. After a few weeks it became clear that the aircraft required to 'do' the mission was beyond my budget, so I looked really hard at the business case to see if that would help stand up a purchase on it's own. That's when I first discovered Stan's blog, read my way into the discussion and the rest (as they say) is history.
What have I learned? Well, pretty soon after I took over as custodian, I found out the hard way that 'free speech' only stays that way if people driven by principles (take a bow, Gunner) are prepared to spend their hard earned cash defending the First Amendment. It also displayed for a much wider audience the moral background at EAC and made me very determined to expose them to detailed scrutiny.
Speaking directly with people and through the blog email (firstname.lastname@example.org) I've discovered that there were many more strange things 'lurking' in this whole story. The more I heard, the more I became convinced that there was a lot more to this than a business plan gone a little off track.
Pilots, usually those working for a living, have been very helpful in filling in the blanks left by the absence of reporting by the traditional media, who themselves were hamstrung by Vern. Suppliers also have illuminated some of the darker corners of the business ethics (or lack thereof) at EAC.
Many, many members of staff, current and former were kind enough to contact me. This has been most helpful in rounding out the full picture.
And then there are the real 'stars'.
Each and every one one of you, who has chosen to post a comment on the blog. It's not easy to engage with the story of EAC, without becoming awed by the scale. Breaking it down into manageable bits is as good a way as any to try to make sense of it.
Most recently we've enjoyed refreshing input from owners. I am really glad they decided to join in and hope they continue to provide insight. In many ways I think the blog has a better future as a platform for them than for 'us'. After all, in the almost inevitable end game we all can see, who has a right to be more critical of Eclipse than the people who paid money, but never got what they ordered?
So, let's take a shot at a summary of 'Reasons to buy an FPJ'
1. Low cost, especially for those who got into the program early. Even now (8 years later) there really is nothing new available, for less money.
2. The running costs are very impressive, if you are prepared to ignore depreciation.
3. It's performance 'package' including range, takeoff and landing distances and the ability to climb to the higher flight levels makes it appealing to a wide group.
However (putting my critic hat back on) these basic 'facts' have been distorted into a marketing mantra at EAC which endlessly promotes the huge numbers of orders, in turn justifying the low price. Of course such a vast market is difficult to see in the current, owner flown arena, so we have the creation of 'air taxi' companies that offer EAC orders into the dim and distant future.
Lots of people bought into the dream. Not as many as EAC claimed, but far more than many thought possible. More than enough to make the project viable with any sort of halfway decent execution or proper management of the available resources. These people had an expectation based on promises made. They have been let down, badly, by EAC. Why do they continue to defy the logic of where the company is at? As I see it, the best thing would be to sell now, before the bottom falls out of the market. But they seem to resist this option.
What is really scary is that some of these owners and/or position holders have parted with money for multiple aircraft. This last bit I fail to understand in any process dictated by logic. It's like playing Russian roulette with 5 live bullets and one empty chamber instead of the other way round.
I think that's a pretty fair summary of where we are now. Yes we can add an endless number of pro's and con's to the discussion (and probably will, knowing you lot) but we must also remember that real people are getting hurt out there. I'll finish with a passage from the inbox, which reached me last week. I've edited it, but only lightly, as it has a certain power of its' own, coming as it does from a parent concerned for a beloved child.
"It was immediately apparent to me that they were not serious about producing planes. You can’t hire contractors at $30 an hour and have them stand around talking all day and expect to run a successful company – even I know that. You can’t hire your friends to “supervise” and have them spend the day with their heads in the computer and not pay any attention to what people are doing on the floor and expect to run a successful company. You can’t let people steal you blind and expect to run a successful company. This whole thing was obviously a scam from the beginning – anyone who actually worked in production saw that immediately. But they duped not only their investors but the people who worked for them and believed in them. It’s not just the investors and suppliers and purchasers who got screwed, it’s the people who put their time and energy and faith in this company and are now looking for jobs. I am angry. I am angry at the politicians and that lying piece of s*#t Vern Raburn for deceiving and using all these people who gave them their trust and time and energy."
You can take it as read that the 'child' was one of the 800 odd who were fired recently, and that this parent was worked up enough to send me a (much) longer email, of which the above is a mere extract. Consider, carefully, this paragraph before you buy yourself an FPJ....
So, that's what I think.
What about you?