What I want to draw everyone's attention to now is the future of our favorite Very Costly Jet, and this lovely French 'truism' (roughly translated as 'saving the end of the candle') is apt in this context. The question I've been asked most in the past few weeks is 'What should depositors do?', and I've tried my best to illuminate what MIGHT happen, for those who've contacted me.
A BIT OF BACKGROUND
It's easy to forget, sitting here on wearing our critic's uniform, that there are something like 450 '10%' and 230 '60%' people out there. A lot of them will have had a very nasty shock on the 25th of October, and really don't know where to turn to. A considerable number joined the 'E5C' group, which remained under the control of the 'faithful' throughout this process, some did their own thing (the 'Production Line Group' and those stuck in the ConJet) and a surprising number seem to have been kept in the dark. Many seem to have sent the money, sat back and blissfully ignored what they'd been suckered into.
'We' need to be aware that people reading the blog find it difficult to understand that we're not doing this for the fun of it (alone) but in a sincere effort to prevent further losses by the unwary. So, let's all try to cut the new reader or poster a little slack and make sure to reference the home page for the 'historical' stuff, as well as our little 'Glossary' of common terms.
THE CURRENT POSITION
I should issue a health warning, as in 'this is what we UNDERSTAND' is the current position. Sometime in the next few days the sale of the assets of EAC will complete. At that time, s/n 260 will (finally) be delivered to its owners and will become the LAST ever FPJ shipped by the original company. Thereafter EclipseJet Aviation International (EAI) is the beneficial owner, free of all contracts and liabilities, of the factory and all associated with it. The current fleet loses all warranty or contracted services (JetComplete) and has to pay whatever EAI decides for parts and labor. Under a Court sanctioned deal, the 27 aircraft on the production line will be finished and delivered to their purchasers upon payment of a further $1.375 million. This money is IN ADDITION to all payments made to EAC in the past.
The Production Certificate for the FPJ 'died' with EAC. This means a number of months will pass (average guess is 6) before a new PC issues to EAI. I'm taking from this that it will take at least this long to get the last of these birds out the door and I suspect it will take longer. We know that critical suppliers have abandoned the FPJ, so new ones will need to be integrated, and others will likely be very reluctant to ship without cleared funds.
EASA certification requires full FIKI and AvioNG 1.6 and both of these need full FAA approval. In the revised circumstances, I pretty confident both agencies will be going over the aircraft with a fine toothed comb....
FUTURE PROSPECTS, IF ANY
Basically, those 10% and 60% people are in a real bind. In my opinion, EAI will seek more money, probably quite a lot more money, from this pool. They are already invested in the aircraft and will be under pressure to get something (anything) rather than walk away. So, I expect an offer will go out to these unfortunate depositors which says 'your deposit on s/n xxx has been converted to a coupon with a value of $yyy,000 which can be used to purchase a fully equipped FPJ at $2.5 million'. After some flowery words about a brave new outlook (or similar marketing fluff) the kicker will be something like:- 'In order to secure your position in the new order book, please remit $1.5 million to our bank account by March 1, 2009. The balance of $zzz,000 will be due on delivery. This limited time offer will not be repeated' etc etc.
Now, I'm probably wrong about the numbers, but then I don't work for EAI and I'm not a mind reader. But I know that as soon as these offers reach the depositors, I'll be sent a copy. In fact, I'm promised LOTS of them, which I'll be comparing to make sure they are broadly similar.
Why are depositors going to do this? Well, it might be a surprise, but not all of them trust the sales department at Eclipse anymore....
MY BROAD ADVICE TO DEPOSITORS
When this offer issues, which I'm promised it will be in the next few days, do nothing without taking professional advice. Talk to your lawyers, your accountants and others who've also been involved with this sorry saga. Consider alternatives like the Phenom 100 or the Cessna Mustang, both of which are now in serial production and are from companies with extensive service networks and a credible business plan going forward. Above all don't send any more money to EAI (or anyone else) until you've had a chance to reflect on the angles.
You are welcome to join my 'depositor mailing list', where I'll be contrasting the various offers made around the globe. You name and identity will be protected, as all who've dealt with me will attest, and you may learn enough to save yourselves a small fortune. Just email me at
and include 'Depositor' in the subject line. I'll do my best to get back to you promptly with any information I have to hand.
So, we're back to the 'candle' phrase we started with. The French have a fantastic world view, based on a genuine openness to change and a real thirst for adventure. Many of the things we admire in good food, classic wines and creative design flair comes to us with a Gallic flavor and is presented with a superb zest and 'joie de vivre'. As a people, they correctly despise those who regard money as an end in itself. So, I say, don't waste time trying to squeeze something out of this mess. If you have lost in EAC, think very, VERY carefully before adding to you woes....