Saturday, February 25, 2006

Eclipse 500 Wins the Collier Trophy

Now THIS is cool

Innovation and Paradigm Shifts: Synergy of the Economic and Cultural Elements of Power.

I’ve been following the Eclipse story since it began. It was formed by a small group of big-name leaders from a fairly diverse set of tech industries, many of whom are real ‘airplane’ people who have the vision and wherewithal to create an innovative jet for a target market that didn’t (and doesn’t) yet exist.

The idea is pure genius, because the new market doesn’t have to materialize for the jet and company to succeed. The stand-alone effort itself forces a revolution in the light aircraft and executive jet industry using breakthrough technologies such as friction-stir welding and low-cost integrated avionics/systems, which lower costs and prices dramatically: the Eclipse 500 is about half the cost of its closest competitor. Eclipse is poised to protect their edge in the Very Light Jet market through proprietary interest in the new technologies. A third key technology, an extremely low cost engine design didn’t work out in time to meet Eclipse’s schedules, but it got them far enough down the path of development to gain an established light jet engine builder’s interest in the potential market for an engine that would meet Eclipse’s needs.

If you placed your order and deposit at the start of the project, your airplane will cost less than one million dollars (plus the opportunity cost of having your deposit money tied up for the duration of course). To give you an idea of what kind of a ‘legacy’ aircraft you can get for that kind of money, think of an older piston-powered airplane with a turboprop conversion. Maybe. If you are a real good horse-trader. The costs of buying and operating are so reasonable, my own physician (FAA medical examiner), who has a Beech Baron now, is thinking about getting an Eclipse.

Next Post: Eclipse Part II -- Changing Air Travel.
If the new market does materialize in a size and scope that the makers of the Eclipse envision, it will force the already ailing airline industry to make further changes as well to respond to entry of a new competitor, the Air Taxi service.

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