Saturday, May 31, 2008

The blog is right, as usual....

I got this email this morning, and felt it deserved a prominent place in our history. I've altered a few lines to protect my sources, one of which you can work out pretty easily....

From: His Highness, Vernicius the First
Sent: Fri May 30 2008
Subject: Announcements

To all Eclipse employees:

Today at our E-rrival customer event, I made two significant announcements. These announcements represent the reality of life as a start up – the highs are incredibly rewarding, but they come with challenging lows.

Let’s tackle the tough stuff first. We are raising the price of the Eclipse 500® to $2,150,000. The increase is necessary for Eclipse to move forward on a financially-sound basis. The reality is that the slope of our production ramp has been slower than we had hoped, and this has impacted our ability to deliver this airplane for the cost we had targeted. While we have pursued many other alternatives to rectify this situation, we now need to take this action to lower our break even and move toward profitability.

In addition to sharing the difficult news of this price increase with our customers, I was also thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce a new aircraft to the Eclipse Aviation family – the Eclipse 400 single-engine jet. This is a production version of the Eclipse Concept Jet (ECJ), which we first revealed at EAA AirVenture 2007. Since that time we have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from current and potential customers alike.

After completing 10 months of extensive research on the ECJ, we are confident this is the perfect aircraft for the emerging single-engine jet market. As many of you have experienced firsthand, this jet inspires people. It immediately captures their imaginations, and when they look a little closer and begin to grasp the level of performance and value it delivers – they are truly blown away.

All indications suggest that the single-engine jet market will be a major force in general aviation, and the Eclipse 400 will once again give us the chance to dominate by offering the most economical and technologically-innovative aircraft in the industry. We believe we are very well positioned to take the market lead as we have in the VLJ category. With this in mind, we have decided to reward our many loyal customers by allowing them to be the first to place deposits on the Eclipse 400. In fact, today at the customer event we began taking Eclipse 400 orders. We will start accepting deposits from the public at EAA AirVenture in July 2008.

The Eclipse 400 will be powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F engine. At an estimated 330 knots, it will use less than one pound of fuel per nautical mile — making it the world’s most fuel-efficient jet aircraft. It seats four and cruises at 41,000 feet, nearly four miles above its closest competition. It will also feature the most sophisticated flight deck and complete aircraft integration available in general aviation. The Eclipse 400 is priced at $1.35 million in June 2008 economics. We expect to start delivering Eclipse 400 jets in 4Q 2011.

We have always dreamed of having a family of aircraft, and it is wonderful to begin to realise this goal today. I have no doubt that the Eclipse 400 will be just as wildly popular as the Eclipse 500. I hope all of you are as excited as I am, because we have another challenging and exhilarating task at hand. Yet, while it is exhilarating to launch a new aircraft, especially one like the Eclipse 400, our focus is and will continue to be producing and supporting the Eclipse 500. Opportunities associated with developing and producing the Eclipse 400 will be communicated as we move through the process.

Whether it is the Eclipse 500 of today or the Eclipse 400 of the future, I believe we will ultimately be known as the company that built the best jets in general aviation. We have the talent, drive and assets in place to make it happen, and the customers who have taken delivery of their jets are telling us we’re succeeding. We absolutely have what it takes to create more highs, and avoid more lows. Let’s keep pushing to realise our incredible potential in everything we do.


Lord Raburn of the Sith

So, there you have it, from direct from the top table. Two long predicted events, linked for maximum impact.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New Mexico nights, and other matters

We, us happy band, have been a bit inward looking of late. I think it's time to re focus on being what Stan set out to do in 2006.

Be the critics of Eclipse Aviation.

That means we look at the available information, form an opinion and discuss. It's my happy lot to try and provide the odd 'headline' post and hope that this starts something, which 'you' pick over, add to (and subtract from) and generally have a good chat.

Of late we have not looked closely at the people with most at stake. No, not the owners, they clearly have money they are prepared to lose, and don't seem to care how quickly they do it. The suppliers? They are all adults and probably have other companies they can do business with.

It's the STAFF we should consider for a moment.

Many times, in my few short months as custodian of this blog, I've had heartfelt communications with people who were clearly in difficulty. The problem, in almost all cases, was the management 'style' in Eclipse. The same thread runs through the information that has reached me. It would seem that no one, in a senior role at Eclipse, seems to care.

The FAA audit a few weeks ago is a case in point. 42 issues were written up, which would appear to be on the high side. Will this 'light a fire' under the management in Eclipse? The staff seem doubtful.

Managers depart, and people with little or no idea of what to do are appointed in their stead. The line workers know what is needed but cannot get simple messages though, which frustrates them and makes everyone miserable.

Stock options, which were a draw for some people, are clearly worth next to nothing, and everyone knows it. Relocation costs are just added pain, especially when Eclipse seek to bully those that want to leave. 

By their own admission, service calls are not handled well. People left hanging on the phone, not getting responses etc etc. By the time an engineer gets on the case, he is dealing with the problem AND an angry, frustrated owner. The tires issue still awaits resolution, with a promised crossply alternative going some way to compensate owners for having to replace ($1,000 +, each) after 75 or 100 cycles. It better be a lot cheaper than the radial, as the original target was a more normal 500 cycles....

While I don't agree with everything I see posted, one of our 'new' voices reports something that echos what I've heard again and again, from long suffering Eclipse employees. Herewith a excerpt:-

There is one thing I must make clear to you and your leads and your supervisors. YOU CANT INSTALL HUCK CLINCH RIVETS WITH CHERRY MAX GUNS. The Rep from HUCK has told you guys this and so has the Rep from TEXTRON/CHERRY MAX (a TEXTRON Company ) But you guys still do this, WHY, WHY, WHY. We get tired of replacing the loose rivets when the airframe get to us up in SP 2 (SUNPORT 2) If we don’t find them or nobody checks, them only thing holding them in is PAINT after the plane gets painted. STOP THE INSANITY!

Morale is at an all time low. Throughout the company, a litany of missed deadlines, unrealistic expectations, bullying, as well legal threats and other forms of intimidation are grinding people down. You can, it would appear, cut the atmosphere with a knife...

I would remind those of you reading this from 'inside' Eclipse that you may have difficult choices to make, but GA is in pretty good shape and Boeing etc have historically huge orders books. Even your current company could be restructured to a more realistic level and be put on a long term footing.

To finish, remember that the night is always darkest just before the dawn.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Important Notice for the Honor Roll

As many of you know, we have engaged our own attorney, Mr. Norman Malinski, to respond to the Eclipse subpoena of Google records. Eclipse’s assault on our First Amendment rights is targeted at obtaining personal information on some 28 Bloggers of this site. While our response to that subpoena has been filed, Mr. Malinski has received indications from Eclipse attorneys that they might seek to exclude from the Court’s ruling any named Bloggers who have not stipulated that they wish to be represented by Mr. Malinski in our response and the upcoming hearing.

In order to assure that you are properly represented in this proceeding, we ask that you confirm your wishes under your usual screen name. This ensures that, as you started out anonymous to the Court, you can remain anonymous in your response. Simply copy and paste the following language to a response under your Blog Screen Name and we will deliver that list of affirmations to Mr. Malinski for use in Court:

“This notice shall confirm my affirmation that I be represented by Norman Malinski, Esq. in all proceedings under that legal action currently referenced in the Superior Court of California as

Case No.: 108CV110380”

It's important that you do this under your original blog 'name', as I know of at least one who has chosen to change his in the meantime. For those of you who have already responded to Gunner, please ensure that you STILL post the small notice above to this new thread. The more of the names we cover in this action the better. Check out the list here in case you are unsure if you are on it.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Back to the frontline

Staff, suppliers, owners and pilots have filled the inbox with tales of woe and charges of incompetence, or worse. Of course, none of this is new to the blog. But the number of people in contact sure is. Thanks directly to Vern, more people than ever before have tuned into our little chats. I also get regular messages of encouragement, for which I thank you all.

1. Some words from the 'users'. Tyre wear is a real pain. Regular reports reach me of costly replacements with 'hidden' extras, often after less than 100 cycles. The cost is suggested as 'extra landing fees' in one report, which is ok if you fly long distance, but could build up to serious money on short hops. The transponders are acting very strangely. Sometimes they switch off, other times they change ID for no reason. One tip is to ditch the keyboard, but if it was this simple, Eclipse should issue advice to that effect. Looks like people will have to wait until the G400w's turn up. One aircraft has also suffered, badly, in what was claimed to be very light turbulence, and afterwards was compared to a '30 year old Lear'. Not a pretty sight and yes, I have seen the pictures. No wonder there are some outrageous insurance quotes for the FPJ, even for pilots who have lots (think 'airlines') of experience.

2. Staff are, to put it mildly, unhappy. More management changes, now almost on a weekly basis, and the ongoing general lack of leadership. Suppliers being blamed for parts not showing up on time or in the quantities 'ordered'. This is according to Vern and his merry band, but the troops suspect they know the real story. We are talking about adults, after all. Managers are still pushing for extra throughput and then fail to meet unrealistic weekly targets. In an attempt to make the magic 'one per day' they have filled up the service centers with re-work. What happens then, naturally, is that owners end up spending money hiring techs to call out, instead of getting service in the assigned locations. The phrase 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' comes to mind.

3. Strange things are still happening in the supply chain. Reports reach me about key suppliers, some of whom are getting big orders. At the same time others are sitting around counting the paperclips and waiting for ABQ to call. What confuses me is a lack of balance in the order patterns. There is a strong smell of old fish (no, ColdWet, not you...) about this whole arena and I'm feel someone else is 'under the bus' without even being told. Again. Expect the standard press release soon from Vern, slating the 'failed (fill in blank here) vendor' and trumpeting the 'world class' company that has replaced them. I suppose it's just Vern's way of keeping everyone on their toes.

4. General comments include, on the plus side, they are about to ship s/n 200, several of the earlier birds have had their aero mod's, and the AvioNG upgrade (without the G400w) program is making progress. On the 'downside' FIKI is still grinding away with no real end in sight, EASA is not even being talked about anymore and several sources calculate a burn rate in the $20 million per month range. lists 65 FPJ's for sale, many of them actual aircraft for a change, and a number of the newer listings make statements like 'priced to sell' and 'owner motivated to do a deal'. Some are cheap enough to tempt even me.

Forget I said that, it was a moment of weakness prompted by the strength of the Euro. Speaking of which, one Euro buys you $1.56 and oil hit $127.82 earlier today. That's more than double what it was this time last year.

So, there you have it. An attempt, and a very superficial one I admit, to give you all a short report on the current state of our very own FPJ program. Enjoy your weekend, care for your family and friends, get that grass cut or do whatever it is that keeps you moving forward. 

Monday, May 12, 2008


Albuquerque, NM – May 12, 2008 – Eclipse Aviation today rolled out a new weapon in the battle to popularize its product. Reacting to negative publicity and possible unauthorized release of trade secrets, the company has broken new legal ground.

President Vern Raburn commented, “Everyone connected with our Eclipse 500 Jet is required to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) - this includes investors, employees, suppliers and customers. However, the old-fashioned NDA had its limitations and we were not satisfied with the protection we received.”

“Disruptive technology has been the byword at Eclipse and we are proud to advance to the legal profession in a most creative manner,” Raburn continued. “I was looking at the NDA and thought – why do we need two signatures, mine and the other party? We can streamline the whole process and achieve better coverage if I alone sign them. “

The company has patented the Eclipse Non-Disclosure Agreement (ENDA) – the first unilateral agreement of its type. “This is the nuclear hand grenade of NDAs,” said Raburn. “Now I scan the news and internet blogs. If I see something I don’t like, I sign an ENDA… and the offending party is toast. This is the legal equivalent of synthetic vision; I put on my special goggles and I see what you are thinking and doing.”

“Our expert legal team determined this new concept covered most of the world. However, they pointed out that several hundred million people in the Indian Subcontinent and Sub-Saharan Africa might not be fully bound to the new Eclipse Aviation terms.”

“Our lawyers drew on the time-tested Napoleonic Code to produce an astounding new legal concept and a fool-proof document. The Eclipse Non-Enumerative Mass Agreement (ENEMA) is the first unilateral NDA to cover the entire planet. Hey, you out there! If you say something nasty about Eclipse, you can run, but you can’t hide.”

Raburn concluded, “Once they realize its features, we believe other companies will want to use the ENEMA too. We are prepared to license this disruptive legal technology for a modest fee.”

Well done, as usual, Black Tulip. For those of you not familiar with our history, please check here for previous examples of his excellent work. The tulip mania peaked in the Netherlands during the 1630s. The black tulip was the most sought after, until found to be biologically impossible.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Critics Strike Back





This is how the defense is structured. The 'motion to quash' seeks to stop the Eclipse action, and offers a full description of supporting precedent. It is not my purpose to repeat the entire contents but I think a few points are worthwhile posting. My comments, inserted for clarity, are in italics

"Disclosing the identification of such posting identities (legal term for bloggers' names etc) violates the constitutional protection guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States


"To the extent that the guarantee of anonymity implicated in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution are qualified privileges, the Plaintiff and proponent of the Deposition Subpoena has made no showing that the speech in question falls outside the protected category of free speech."

These are the key points. First, disclosing the names and addresses of the named bloggers breeches First Amendment rights, and second, Eclipse have made no attempt to justify why this central constitutional principle should be ignored by the CA courts. Several cases have been cited, including U.S. Supreme Court actions, as well as Californian and other State courts.

So, Eclipse are now aware of the depth and strength of the team that Gunner has been kind enough to put at 'our' disposal. Be aware that no individual blogger is identified in the defense documents. 'Our' lawyer, Norman Malinski of Aventura FL, is aware of at least one of the 'honor roll' who is prepared to be identified, if required. I am confident that Eclipse face an uphill battle if they choose to continue with this action, not least in the court of public opinion.

I will also state that anyone who has ever contacted me has been dealt with promptly and fairly. If Eclipse feel that a specific post is wrong, incorrect, or generally want to work things out in a professional manner, they know the email address.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Now THIS is the way to communicate bad news

From: "Ed Iacobucci"
Date: May 6, 2008 10:52:06 AM PDT (CA)
To: Name Deleted by Shane to Protect Source
Subject: DayJet News

Given your longstanding interest in DayJet, I wanted to personally provide an update and some perspective on recent developments at the company.

Effective this week, we have made the difficult decision to scale back DayJet’s 2008 growth plan. Because of this change in strategy, the company has reduced its employee base across most areas of its business. As I will explain, these changes were caused by external economic factors and are not a reflection of a weakness in the underlying DayJet business model.
In fact, our first phase of operations, the "Proof of Concept" phase, has gone exceptionally well. 

Response to our "Per-Seat, On-Demand" service during this first phase was very consistent with our expectations and we answered many nagging questions: Yes, customers will fly in a small jet; Yes, customers will embrace the per-seat model; Yes, customers will pay a premium for tangible value; Yes, the technology works as planned; and most importantly, Yes, we can find these customers. All in all, we have signed over 1,500 members, more than 550 of which are active travelers, and nearly 200 are frequent flyers.

Unfortunately, a proof of concept is only the first step to profitability. The next step is equally important -- growing the "Network" to a density that generates operating margin. Our projections have always indicated a network of 30-50 "line" aircraft serving 20-30 fully developed DayPort markets was needed to reach critical scale. More importantly, this required a $40M infusion of operating capital in the first quarter of 2008. I won't dwell on this point, but suffice it to say that given the current state of the U.S. capital markets, the timing of our planned financing could not have been worse.

Without the growth capital required to open new markets, the company must scale back to a size that is consistent with the demand of our existing customers and service region. DayJet’s business model is based on operating at a critical mass, requiring investment ahead of growth. We hired and trained a number of employees in anticipation of future growth and always planned for additional capital investment at this stage.

This restructuring will not reduce our existing service region. It will not impact our quality of service to our customers, and most importantly, it will not impact our commitment to safety, which is the heart of our service. We will continue to operate and expand our service (albeit at a slower rate) to communities across the Southeast in response to customer needs. And when the capital markets recover, then we would expect to resume the growth forecast in our original plan.

DayJet has been fortunate to receive so much support and excitement from the regions we serve, our investors and the aviation community at large. Developing new markets is never easy, and I think it is important to be as forthcoming about our challenges as we are about our successes.

If we can provide any further insight into this shift in strategy, please let me know.

Warmest regards,

Ed Iacobucci
DayJet President and CEO

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Press are on the case...

It's timely to remind people that the action of Vern Raburn two weeks ago has raised awareness of the blog by a factor of at least 10. A number of sites, including his owners club, have picked up on us, and everyone will all note the new voices, as well as the higher volume of posts. Karen Di Piazza has been observing Eclipse for some years now, and was quick to contact the blog and others for further information. For the record, my only real quibble is her description of me as the 'owner', as I regard myself strictly as the custodian. Herewith her article in full, which was published by I think I should extend, on behalf of the bolg, a heartfelt thanks to Karen for her interest in our struggle.

Eclipse Aviation Critic Blogger Fights Eclipse Aviation Subpoena
By Karen Di Piazza

After Shane Price, owner of Eclipse Aviation Critic NG blog was notified by Google's legal department it had been subpoenaed by Eclipse Aviation for production of the blog's business records, to expose the identities of 29 people, he said he was shocked. Price, of Dublin, Ireland, who works in the publishing business isn't listed on the subpoena. New Mexico-based Eclipse, manufacturer of the Eclipse 500 very light jet, claims that bloggers have harmed its business. About six months ago the blog went dead; its founder decided to stop hosting the site. Before Price revived the site, posters had temporally joined forces with another site.
When asked why he decided to host the site, Price replied to CharterX Industry Headline News, "I found the site by accident." "Although I'm not in aviation, and I'm busy with my own business affairs, I smelled a rat--Vern Raburn [Eclipse CEO]. After I saw how he [Raburn] treated his employees, suppliers and customers, I realized that these bloggers needed their home back."

After Price posted the news about Eclipse's subpoena, 174 posts were immediately made. Rich Lucibella, who's in the publishing business, and also a frequent blogger [not targeted on Eclipse's list], responded to the news. He told CharterX Industry Headline News that he found Eclipse's actions "outrageous."

"What Eclipse is attempting to do is just wrong," Lucibella said. "They want to take advantage of people's rights; I can't stand by and let them do that."

A proponent of the First Amendment, Lucibella hired Florida-based attorney Norman Malinski, who will file a motion to prevent Google from releasing bloggers' private information.

Raburn was contacted several times for this article, but he refused to answer questions. Via email, he was asked to confirm or deny if he wrote a letter to all personnel about firing someone for breaking the company's non-disclosure agreement, and then using that person as an example of what would happen to the next person who did so. Raburn was also asked to provide an update on the status of when the jet's avionics would become fully functionally and when he expected ice certification on the plane. Eclipse's production schedule of its aircraft has suffered delay after delay; suppliers have been blamed for most of the company's production woes. Many aviation analysts and industry observers have expressed great concern about whether Eclipse can become a viable, profitable company. Florida-based DayJet Services LLC, Eclipse's largest commercial air taxi customer with 1,400 orders, operates 28 Eclipse 500s; the company hasn't added 500s to its carrier certificate since Jan. 15.

Privacy Rights

Malinski agreed that if any blogger is employed or was employed by Eclipse, they might have violated a NDA. "But it's a question of how Eclipse is going about it," he said. "The question is have they walked the last mile in trying to obtain such information, if any of its employees or former employees have breeched a NDA on the blog? Is this the easy way of going about it for Eclipse? Yes.

"Eclipse doesn't have the right to access other people's private information. For example, if three bloggers are or were employed by Eclipse but others aren't, then the rest of the people's privacy rights are violated under the First Amendment. Eclipse hasn't appeared to invoke the rule of reason."

"Ringtail," one of 29 blogger names that Eclipse listed on its subpoena, brings Malinski's point home--an unfounded fishing expedition.

"I was shocked to see my blog name on the list," David Johnson told CharterX Industry Headline News. "I've never had any relationship with Eclipse."

Johnson's wife, Becky, posted a letter to Raburn on the blog, believing he must be checking the site. In part it reads: "Everything we posted on this blog was based on our own opinion gleaned from reading and participating on this blog, and other aviation magazines and news articles. People have the right to say what they want. I believe you've initiated an opposition on that right."

Malinski said after Google receives a motion to seek that material isn't released that Eclipse has demanded, Google will wait to see what the judge's decision is.

"If we don't like the judge's decision, we'll appeal; Google will wait until the appeal process is over, assuming Google is allowed to wait," he said. "In May, the judge will have to make a decision. If this ends up in a court of appeals it could take a year from now. Or there's a possibility we can reach an agreement with Eclipse's counsel. I'm not talking about an agreement that involves money. I'm confident that there's not enough information on Eclipse's part to warrant the subpoena."

Eclipse counsel declined to comment.

Lucibella, who's footing Malinski's bill to represent bloggers' privacy rights, said in June 2006, he had ordered an Eclipse VLJ. But after Eclipse "wouldn't provide him with a serial number on production," he asked for his deposit back. He said he wasn't impressed with how Eclipse handled its business transaction. Shortly thereafter, he joined the blog.

The plane maker's claim that it needs personal information on all 29 bloggers, as inside company information has been leaked, has angered many people. Some people now view Eclipse as a bully, trying to blame 29 bloggers for the company's failures. Because of Eclipse's actions, many people have said they would not purchase its plane.

Eclipse's subpoena served on Google demands the first and last names of all 29 bloggers, their zip code, email address given when they registered their account and all records pertaining to user login information. Eclipse wants all remote IP addresses with corresponding dates and times logged by Google's system, on each occurrence of the account being accessed.