Sunday, November 22, 2009

It appears the Cessna Skycatcher is about to enter "the real world". Rose Pelton, wife of Cessna CEO Jack Pelton, will be the first customer. It's interesting to study what -might- be the start of major OEM involvement in the trainer market again, first time in, literally, a generation- the Cessna 152 production ceased in 1985.

And speaking of a new generation (of avionics), the Skycatcher comes with a glass cockpit. (After our many discussions regarding standby indicators, I was perplexed that there is not one in the 162. But the airplane is not offered as an IFR paltform (and LSA-only pilots are restricted to Day VFR).

(This article is a bit dated, Garmin G300 to Make Debut on Cessna 162 LSA (Aviation Week, Fred George, July 20, 2007), but might be indicative of the cost savings philosophy on the SkyCatcher program: "The new Garmin G300 avionics package, a de-contented, non-TSOed, VFR-only outgrowth of Garmin's G1000 integrated system..." The Cessna website has this press release regarding the 162 and Garmin G300- "Quite literally made for each other".

One kind of odd looking item, is the pilot control- Cessna Cuts Pilot Training Cost In Half (Flying Magazine, J. Mac McClellan, Oct 2007) notes "The fulcrum of the sticks is configured so that control inputs feel like those of a centrally mounted stick on the floor instead of a sidestick, or some other kind of push and twist arrangement." (Roomier and more convenient for entry and egress, I suppose).

Cessna LSA Flies
(AVweb, Oct 16, 2006)
"Cessna's proof-of-concept entry into the light sport aircraft category flew for the first time last Friday (the 13th). The 33-minute flight originated at McConnell Air Force Base and ended at Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita."
(Not a superstitious bunch!)

"The LSA also has a free-castering nosewheel and, although it's about 200 pounds lighter than a 152, its cockpit is about six inches wider. Cessna CEO Jack Pelton says the LSA market is the fastest-growing sector in aviation and could be a crucial factor in reigniting interest in personal aviation."
(Hmm, six inches wider. One could wonder what really is the fastest growing "sector" in aviation).

"An important part of our thought process in looking at LSA is the value in terms of new pilot starts," Pelton said in the release. The company's thought is that today's LSA pilot will be tomorrow's Skyhawk -- or Citation -- owner."

Using the Cessna 162 article in Wikipedia, it is interesting to map out the timeline for the Skycatcher:

* Jan. 2006- Program launched

*Oct. 13, 2006- nine months after launching the program, the concept prototype aircraft, registered N158CS flies.

*July 22, 2007- at Oshkosh, unveiled a full-scale mockup and details about the planned production version.

*Nov. 27, 2007- Cessna announced that the Cessna 162 would be made in China

*March 8, 2008- The conforming prototype had its first flight

*May 5, 2008- The first initial production configuration aircraft flew

*Sept. 18, 2008- Prototype crashes (spin testing- The aircraft was equipped with a Ballistic Recovery System parachute, but it failed to deploy when activated)

*Late 2008- The 162 received a redesigned vertical stabilizer...with the new larger fin the dorsal fin was unneeded and was deleted from the design to save weight

*March 19, 2009 -A second prototype crashes (spin testing- BRS deployed, but "The pilot exited the aircraft and attempted to remove the parachute, which remained attached to the aircraft. Wind then dragged the aircraft 0.6 miles into a fence, leaving it inverted and heavily damaged".)

*Mid 2009- The final production 162 incorporated a thicker wing and further changes to the tail, including a ventral fin, to make the aircraft more resistant to spins.

*Sept. 17, 2009- The first production Cessna 162 had its initial flight in China

*Nov. 2009- the company indicated that it expected to deliver the first production SkyCatcher...by the end of 2009

The program has been met with good market acceptance, "In July 2009, orders were still reported at "over 1,000." The forecast production rates I've read vary from 300-700 per year (based largely on which year the article was published).

It is interesting to note the "extra" testing Cessna has conducted, beyond the Light Sport Aircraft requirements.
"The company indicated that the testing was outside that required for LSA certification...The aircraft entered an unintentional flat spin and was not under control at 5,000 feet (1,500 m), at which point the test pilot bailed out of the aircraft. Cessna confirmed that the 162 entered a spin from cross-controlled, power-on stall, that the spin became flat and recovery was not possible."

And from the Cessna press release (July 27, 2009)

"In several areas, Cessna conducted additional tests on the SkyCatcher not required by the ASTM International standards, such as an extensive Ground Vibration Test (GVT) and instrumented, in-flight flutter testing. Planned testing, also not required by ASTM, includes an airframe fatigue test to ensure a durable product for the training environment."

I certainly applaud Cessna for the extra testing they have conducted. But I must confess, I am rather perplexed that this is "extra", and not regulatory.

*Spin testing
*flutter testing
*fatigue testing

It seems to me these should all be mandatory, and not left to the owner to become unwitting "test pilots"/guinea pigs.


NTSB asks FAA to ground Zodiac CH-601XL

"The NTSB has asked the ATSM to take the following actions: 1) Add requirements to ensure the standards for light sport airplanes reduce the potential for aerodynamic flutter to develop; 2) develop standards on stick force characteristics for light sport airplanes that minimize the possibility of pilot’s inadvertently over-controlling the airplane; and 3) ensure standards for light sport airplanes result in accurate airspeed indications and appropriate documentation in new airplane pilot operating handbooks."

Isn't this kind of what we have the FAA for?

(Not to pick on the Zodiac 601- it seems to be a quite popular airplane, but rather to express concern over the relaxation of purposeful regulatory standards, namely, the FAA Part 23 standards).

A little research turned up this AOPA article from 2004.
"FAA Administrator Marion Blakey on Tuesday, July 20, 2004, officially unveiled the long-awaited Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft rule that allows many pilots to fly light sport aircraft with a valid driver's license in lieu of a medical certificate and creates new, less-expensive ways to become a pilot."

Seems like M. Blakey was quite an "enthusiast" of "new, less expensive", and perhaps- disruptive- ways of circumventing established certification processes, on a number of levels. (I'm okay with the idea of using a driver's license for a 1320 lb airplane, rather than medical exam, but think the pilot training for LSA is in general, an unwise simplification, perhaps appropriate/adequate for those in rural areas, but not in general).

(That's good material for another day- but for now),
Congratulations to Cessna 162 design team.

76 comments:

Phil Bell said...

The ASTM Webist features the 2007 print version of the ASTM Standards on Light Sport Aircraft, 2nd Edition (PRINT)

But not to worry, it's replaced by the CD version.

Which is, also, ...out of "print".

(... ??)

Beedriver said...

If we want to make airplanes safer we need to include as part of any sophisticated autopilot system is Auto throttles and built in speed warnings.

At least one new aerostar pilot I know of might still be alive if he had auto throttles. he was doing a circling approach in dark conditions at night and he got too slow turning base and it stalled and that was it. like most high performance airplanes the Aerostar drops like a rock if you get too slow and it takes at least 500 feet for a test pilot to recover. This is a known characteristic of airplanes with thin wings and high wing loadings built to go fast.

We might not have lost a Cirrus pilot near here last winter if the cirrus had auto throttles. the facts are: Again a new pilot with a new instrument rating in a brand new Cirrus at night in the clouds went from 4000 ft to the ground (1000 ft) in 30 seconds or so.

the theory on what happened is that he picked up some ice, was on autopilot, kept slowing down until it stalled, (Cirus do not carry ice well I am told) and the rest is history.

Anyway I think any good autopilot should include some form of autothrottle or warning that you are getting slow that announces itself clearly long before the stall warning goes off or the stick shaker goes on.

While pilots are taught to watch airspeed, few new pilots rarely do as the Cessnas, Cherokees etc have a very mild stall and watching the airspeed is not really necessary to fly safely.

Transitioning from a light twin like a Apache, or Baron to a high performance airplane requires learning new skills. and a system that helped save the pilots butt a few times until the pilot really learned what he had to do could be very useful.

Shane Price said...

Phil,

Excellent headline to start a discussion with.

What I want to know is how the whole 'Chinese' thing plays out.

1. In the car market (and many others) the Chinese have a well deserved reputation for knocking out very similar product to one that they OEM for western companies. Will Cessna suffer a similar outcome?

2. While LSA is clearly a very large potential market, are Cessna facing order cancellations of similar magnitude to other sectors?

3. I'm still unclear how the physical delivery of product is going to work. Early days I remember talk of 'final assembly' in Cessna facilities, but it was never clear what this meant. Are they getting practically finished aircraft from China and simply bolting major sub-assemblies together, or will they retain final installation of items like avionics and engines?

4. Given the 'variable' quality of some Chinese manufacturing, how closely will regulators (and insurers) inspect Skyhawks, especially with if any 'issues' surface?

I have had the misfortune to be the channel partner for other mainstream western companies who've had to deal with these sorts of 'Chinese problems'.

While I've no doubt Cessna will be able to make this supply chain work, I suspect they've underestimated the overall costs of doing so.

Shane

baron95 said...

Exactly right Beedriver - speed/power control need to be part of every advanced automatic flight control system - particularly for IFR A/C with high wing loads. I thought Eclipse had it exactly right when they planned/attempted to have A/T on the EA500.

Maybe someone else will get it done. The G1000/700 has enough processing power to do it - certifying it, is another matter. For piston airplanes it will probably require FADECs on the other end as well.

baron95 said...

Shane - seriously - when are you going to get off this notion that Chinese manufacturing is substandard.

Are you permanently stuck in the 80s?

Chinese manufacturers produce high-spec, high-quality, tight-tolerance items ranging from computer chips, to personal computers, to cell phones to A320 airliners.

There is absolutely no deficit in quality and QC on a Chinese assembly line compared to one in Europe or the US. Quite the contrary, they are often ahead in QC.

Sure, there are low-cost, low value, lower quality assembly in China - e.g. plastic toys. But that is the goal of those lines - low cost and cheap.

It's this mentality that gets people and entire economies blindsided. That is how people dismissed the Japanese (cheap low quality makers of bad radios). Until suddenly - boom - they took over automobile and consumer electronics lead.

You can make the same mistake again with China and Korea - but you WILL pay the price, if you do.

Go ahead - dismiss "Chinese assembled planes" as cheap crap. In 3 or 4 decades you WILL pay the price for that mistake.

The Negativist said...

Baron -- Given recent Chinese history with poison-laced toothpaste and the like, I think Shane is entitled to his healthy skepticism of Chinese "quality control" and labor skills... for now.

No doubt, the Chinese need to prove their adeptness at producing something as advanced as an aircraft... even if it is "only" an LSA. I'm sure the Chinese will do that, too, in time.

Does that mean I want to fly in one of their very first efforts? Not particularly. Let others -- including Pelton's wife -- blaze the trail in the early "Chessnas." I'll wait a bit, thank you.

Remember, early Japanese and Korean cars were largely junk, too. They got better fast (Twenty years ago,Hyundai couldn't even reproduce the fairly reliable Mitsubishi Precis with any skill... now look at the Genesis!)

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Brings a whole new meaning to Cess-Com(m) - he he he.

T2 said...

Shane

Answer to your question 3.

Yingling Aviation Looking Forward to Being Cessna Skycatcher Reassembly Site
Wichita, KS—January 17, 2008—Yingling Aviation isn’t wasting any time preparing for the Cessna Model 162 SkyCatcher. With yesterday’s announcement that it will be one of three domestic reassembly sites for Cessna’s new light sport aircraft, Yingling revealed that it will be ready when the first airplanes produced in Shenyang, China arrive in the U.S. The firm is currently expanding its facilities at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport, and making some modifications that are designed specifically for the SkyCatcher. First flight of the prototype Model 162 is set for the first half of 2008 and deliveries are expected to begin in 2009. Cessna Aircraft Company, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, plans to produce up to 700 a year at full-rate production.

“We’re extremely pleased to be selected to reassemble, conduct acceptance test flights, and deliver the aircraft to Cessna’s Sales Team Authorized Representatives (CSTARs),” said Lynn Nichols, chief executive officer for Yingling, which has a long history of collaboration with Cessna, having been selected as its very first dealer in 1946. “In advance of this announcement we made sure that our current facility expansion included key elements that will accommodate the SkyCatcher,” he explained. “For instance, the shipping/receiving area is being expanded, plus we’re installing a 23’ by 9’ hydraulic floor lift that will assist in offloading the aircraft from the shipping containers in which they arrive.”

Nichols also offered information on Yingling’s designated reassembly area, which will incorporate large windows along the length of the line, and be completely open to public view. It is being enhanced to provide any visitor a visual, yet secure self-guided tour of the SkyCatcher reassembly process.
To assist Cessna customers who wish to check on the progress of their SkyCatchers, Yingling will also install web cameras and issue individualized passwords that will allow them to monitor their airplanes’ progress, 24/7, while it’s being reassembled. “In addition,” Nichols commented, “when Cessna reaches full production of the 162, we realize that the number of aircraft we will be reassembling will obligate us to further expand our facilities in the future. We are taking our partnership on the SkyCatcher reassembly process very seriously. This new plane will open many doors for current and future aviation enthusiasts, thus providing new fuel for the growth of the general aviation industry,” he added.

Beedriver said...

Do business in China at your own risk. our experience and those of other friends of mine that do business in China demonstrate that over and over.

There are only two ways to get good products from Chinese producers.
1. build your own factory from the ground up with people you hire and train. this is what Mortorola, GE, 3M have done with success.

2. Hire a separate firm (usually from Taiwan) to inspect in detail every product produced before it is shipped. If you do not you will find the first few shipments are OK than you will get problems. Best buy has had that experience repeatedly. the last example, told to me by a purchasing agent from Best Buy, was they had several million worth of speakers arrive just before Christmas that were junk. the Chinese would replace them but in six months or so way too late for the Christmas rush.

There is no such thing as IP in china. the only way to protect your IP is to make good friends with the Chinese company owners which in general takes 20 years. even then if something small changes all bets are off. IP protection is done only with personal relationships . no contract has any meaning in China.


I am amazed by the number of companies I know making highly technical products that are quietly bringing their manufacture back to the US, Canada, Germany etc.

The savings in going to China the bean counters predicted did not materialize when all the other costs were measured several years later.

I will say I know of several smart honest manufacturers in China but they are few and far between and they generally are not the cheapest by far.

Beedriver said...

more on China.

all the guys I know that have done well lately in China have gone there to build product to sell primarily to the Chinese. The cheap production actually is going to Vietnam and would you believe coming back to the US.

I really hope that Cessna has done a good job of long term QC on the 162. my fear is that the first year or so they will be OK but after that the Aluminum will change alloy slightly, the riveting will be not the best, etc and a few airplanes will fall out of the sky. If there is a suit in the US against a 162 that kills someone, Cessna will be liable and Cessna will not be able to go back to get any reimbursement from the Chinese who built it and made the mistake.

there is no such thing as liability in China unless you make the government look bad.

Then if you screw up and make bad milk or ? the Chinese do not fool around. you are found guilty and they spend only 10 cents on a bullet to do away with the manager who oversaw the mistake.

lets just say, I would much rather get in an EA 500 than a 162 built in China.

baron95 said...

Well....we shall see...but...

I'm willing to bet that more people will be killed on 162s due to carburetor icing from the decrepit old American engine than from Chinese assembly errors.

And off course, many, many more will perish due to fuel starvation and other garden variety pilot error.

But hey, if you are *that* afraid of the Chinese, so be it.

baron95 said...

Globalization is a bitch, ain't it?

Phil Bell said...

Hi Shane,

"1. In the car market (and many others) the Chinese have a well deserved reputation for knocking out very similar product to one that they OEM for western companies. Will Cessna suffer a similar outcome?"

I hadn't thought about it, but now that you mention cars and Chinese- there has been a rumor in the USA for about 10 years, that Walmart was going to sell Chinese cars for $9999. I don't know if there ever was a foundation for that rumor- but, it hasn't happened. (Yet, anyway).

But, I notice a lot of knock-off small motorcycles, 50-150cc and small electrics, which are made in China. The market for these is not too great here, whether high quality Japanese products, or mid-quality Korean, or low quality Chinese (and universally, the Chinese made ones are rated poorly by repair shops- but the price is about 40% of the Japanese product- figuratively, "cheap toys", as Baron put it).

On the other hand, I think there are a number of machine tools imported, which are good quality. (Interestingly, while discussing the "value" of the infrastructure at Eclipse, it was pointed out that if one goes to a liquidation sale of factory machine tools (lathes, presses, etc.) the auction value is quite low in the present economy (and with so much manufacturing being 'off shored'. This weekend I spoke with a fellow who has business ties with import/export folks- he says a great deal of that "surplus" (I cringe at that term) equipment is being sold to China and Mexico).

Even longer than the 10-year old Walmart/Car rumor, has been speculation the Japanese would "invade" the light aircraft market, much as they did with motorcycles in the 1960's/1970's, and autos int eh 1970's/1980's. In the mid 1980's, on of my more astute friends observed that instead, he expected Panasonic or Sony to offer a bolt-in instrument panel for Cessnas and Pipers- a complete swapout, featuring high quality radios and instruments. (That hasn't happened yet either, which somewhat surprises me). I suppose the lack of Japanese domestic market for light aircraft has been the reason. I have somewhat expected the Japanese to introduce a high-quality piston engine (FADEC, etc), much as they have in the boat motor world. Think of a high quality Suzuki engine for your 152. Hmmm. That hasn't materialized either. which I find to be the oddest failed futurist prediction of them all (odd that it failed, not an odd prediction).

Phil Bell said...

"2. While LSA is clearly a very large potential market, are Cessna facing order cancellations of similar magnitude to other sectors?"

I think Cessna had "firm" orders for around 1000, and with a slow ramp up of production, I imagine the economy will have recovered for most of these to hold fast, one of the Cessna sales guys mentioned sales have been slow lately, but mostly because of a 3-4 year delivery delay, so even if there were 20-30 % cancellations, there would still be a 2-3 year backlog, which ought to put us into the "fat" of the recovery.

Another way to think of the "potential market", is profit, rather than volume. (Sadly, the old Eclipse Aviation Co is not around to listen).

I've read 300-700 per year for the 162, so let's say 500. Assuming 20 percent profit, and $100K per model (or so), that's $10M profit on 500 per year. Now say their Citation X sells for $15M (or so), with the same 20% profit margin (or so), they can sell 3or 4 Citation X's for the same profitability as 500 Skycatchers.

Sooo, it would seem Cessna need not worry about the delivery specifics of the Skycatcher. Instead, entry (re-entry) into the trainer market seems to be some corporate strategy, perhaps indeed to create potential customers for their higher end products (okay, so higher end in this context might be 172's).

(It would be interesting if there were a model between the 162 and 172, perhaps a LSA-ish four seater...with 1900 MTWO or so...that would probably be an invitation to disaster with overloading, I suppose. But still, I think a $160K 4-seater would be quite marketable).

Another thing to consider regarding production volume for Cessna is- it's all outsourced. Production rates don't affect factory or employment too much at Cessna, and at $10M for 500 deliveries, don't affect bottom line too much either- it's kind of like the gift shop- it doesn't generate significant revenue, but is a nice thing to have anyway.

Shane Price said...

Baron,

As a supplier to Ireland's printing industry, we've been driven round the twist by equipment which was 'manufactured' in China.

It was delivered to us by Fortune 100 US brands who chose the low cost route, only to find that the warranty and support costs are astronomical.

By using the term astronomical I want to convey to you that the initial profit (if any) in selling the machine has been wiped out by ongoing financial inputs, which include customers compensation, extended warranties, specialist engineers (often flown in a short notice) and loss of future sales.

Not once, but now three times your leading American brands have taken a roasting by delivering crap.

And make no mistake, it is crap. Metals are 'soft' when they should be hard and vice versa. The electronics are thrown together and fail with boring regularity. Pipework, pumps, motors and gears all lunch themselves for no apparent reason.

I'm not talking about the 80's either. I have units with dates of 'June 2008' giving me untold grief.

Will the Chinese get better at building complex machines?

Probably.

Will I fly in an early SkyCatcher?

What do you think...

Shane

Phil Bell said...

"3. I'm still unclear how the physical delivery of product is going to work. Early days I remember talk of 'final assembly' in Cessna facilities, but it was never clear what this meant. Are they getting practically finished aircraft from China and simply bolting major sub-assemblies together, or will they retain final installation of items like avionics and engines?"

I believe all the installation items are shipped to China- avionics, engines, etc., and assembled and flown there, then disassembled enough for crating, and shipped to the US for reassembly.

(Makes one wonder how much of the accessories, such as brakes, wheels, control cables, antennas, landing lights, brake lines, windscreens, etc are made in China-these have been important manufacturers in the US aviation infrastructure.

"4. Given the 'variable' quality of some Chinese manufacturing, how closely will regulators (and insurers) inspect Skyhawks, especially with if any 'issues' surface?"
I imagine, since this is a market China wants to crack, they will devote reasonable QA control. (Which is most certainly, not always the case for other products- drywall, pet food, toys, etc).

"I have had the misfortune to be the channel partner for other mainstream western companies who've had to deal with these sorts of 'Chinese problems'. While I've no doubt Cessna will be able to make this supply chain work, I suspect they've underestimated the overall costs of doing so."

Cessna claims they will save $71K per airplane, by manufacturing it in China. I think that's flimsy bunk offered as political cover, and probably more accurately reflects the incentives the Chinese government provided. The only way to save $71K per airplane on labor, is would be if you were to build every single hinge, bolt, screw, rivet, stringer, etc,, in house. Which might be EXACTLY what China is doing. Wasteful? Perhaps not in the long term. Especially is a US company is underwriting your infrastructure development cost. As appears to be the case).

Cessna had a light airplane assembly plant at Strother Field, a small industrial park in south central Kansas, population of the entire county is about 35,000. One hour drive from Wichita. A&P program at the local community college.

If one uses google map to check "5800 East Pawnee, Wichita Ks", it will bring up the Cessna-Pawnee (street) facility, the original Cessna factory (only a couple of miles from Beech Aircraft), where the primary Cessna piston single factory was, until assembly was shut down in the 1980's. (Although twin engine and jet manufacturing shifted away from the "old airport" (now a museum, btw) facility on the east side of town, to the "new airport" (circa mid 1960s) on the west side of town ("Wallace Facility", for old timers, named after Dwayne Wallace, Clyde's nephew, who ran the place), Cessna still has the facility- which is apparently why the Skycatcher first flight was from adjacent McConnell Airport).

Like everywhere else it seems, local communities would have given enough tax incentives to pay for a new plant, anywhere in Kansas, or elsewhere in the US.

That's what happened when Cessna reopened the light piston line in the 1990's, at Independence Ks).

Was there some ulterior motive, such as selling 162's to flight schools in China? Perhaps. But at what volume? Negligible in the near term. Possibly significant in the long term? Maybe, but by then, I would fully expect a Chinese domestic company to produce one. Based on the Cessna design.

Shane Price said...

Phil,

.... it's kind of like the gift shop- it doesn't generate significant revenue, but is a nice thing to have anyway.

Part of my issue with this program, as in, are Cessna giving the Chinese a 'gift'?

Will they suddenly wake up one day to find a very similar aircraft being marketed, at significantly lower cost, into their own target market. How long will the Cessna backlog survive in that scenario?

I'd be very surprised if those types of conversations hadn't already taken place at senior levels within Cessna management, and I'm sure that the deal is festooned with contracts to avoid any such unpleasantness.

But, like the variable quality of the machines, I'm sure the Chinese legal system will adjust to accommodate their own economic requirements.

Anyone notice the spike in the price of gold?

Seems the longed for uplift may be a little further down the road than we would like...

Shane

Shane Price said...

Oooops!

Just noticed that I've written Skyhawk when I mean Skycatcher.

It really is terrible, this whole old age thing. I passed the birthday milestone of 50 on Saturday last, which is clearly affecting what remains of my brain....

Shane

Phil Bell said...

Hello Shane,

Happy Birthday!

I hope the next 50 are as happy as the first!

(I think a number of us are in the "two-point oh" club, as I prefer to think of it! :)

airsafetyman said...

"Globalization is a bitch, ain't it?"

So is working like a slave with low wages and no benefits, as your kids will find out when they enter the US job market.

Beedriver said...

Happy birthday. you are just a youngster at 50. life is just starting. enjoy the next 10 years

I am 63 and the body is starting to protest and the brain is forgetting more and more. however I can still give my kids a run for their money in the powder if I work to stay in shape.

I am looking forward to finally being on socialized medicine in the US in 1 and 1/2 years and getting out of the ridiculous third world health care system we have here.

Floating Cloud said...

Build a Skycatcher? No problem

Happy Birthday Shane!

baron95 said...

Shane/Phil, regarding the surprise that Japan has not entered GA/aviation like they did consumer electronics, motorcycles, automobiles... that should not surprise you. The Japanese model has always been based on volume manufacturing efficiencies.

Note that the Japanese has not cracked low-volume, specialty segments even in autos or motorcycles. Lexus LF-A study excepted, there are no low-volume Japanese high end cars like Ferrari, Bentley, Rolls, etc...those remain out of reach.

Similarly in GA/aviation - it is a low volume, specialty market - not the Japanese cup of tea. Not that they can't do it - they've built very capably fighter jets under license from the US. Just not their commercial core competency.

----------------

Shane, so some American printing supplier can't manage their vendors quality, and so you will not fly a C162 because it is assembled in China.

How about flying in an A320 airliner, which is also being assembled in China, ramping up to a rate of 4/month (soon)? Would you fly on those?

baron95 said...

Phil, regarding, Cessna's $71K savings/C162, that is probably on the high end (or even an exaggeration), but not *THAT* out of the realm of possibilities.

If you figure 2,000 hours to build/flight test/ship, etc a C162, and a fully burdened assembly line worker rate of $45/hr for Cessna the US and $10/hr in china, that is $70K right there.

My guess is that direct labor costs savings are in the $30-40K/plane range.

But the "package" that China offered, "probably" has free work force training, ability to ramp-up/down capacity, cheaper land, taxes, subsidized energy, shipping, etc.

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

Sorry, for the barrage, but I have to comment on "Is Cessna giving the Chinese a gift?" or "maybe they are doing it to sell some C162s to Chinese flight schools".

You are missing *THE* way that China operates.

This is how it goes...

Cessna sends "some" work to China, sets up some J/V local assembly for the C162.

In turn, "China" makes it possible/easier for Cessna to sell $15M biz jets to Chinese companies. Even if Cessna loses money on the C162, what is the value of an extra 100 Citations/year sold to China?

Do the math.

It is the samething Airbus is doing. Toss a bone - 4 A320s/month local assembly, in exchange for future massive orders of A330s, A350s, A380s.

It is a no-brainer.

That is the A-game. Just because every other country is playing the B or C-game, doesn't make China bad or Cessna's decision dumb.

Want in? Bring the A-game.

airsafetyman said...

"Want in? Bring the A-game."

Right. Especially when you have laid off half your work force and they are on unemployment and food stamps and after having blackmailed whatever government bodies in Kansas you can to build and pay for your facilities. Good move! Bring on the ol' A-game!

julius said...

Shane,

happy birthday!

Julius

P.S.: China is still an emerging nation. Once the Chineses understand how to built a small piston they will take the chance and sell a copy back to US, Europe, etc. In case of new biz jets for China: "Advantage for Cessna"? No, that's another political story! Perhaps then France or Brasil will have priorities!?

gadfly said...

What does it matter whether or not a “Chinese” assembles an “Airbus”, or a “Cessna”? The Chinese man does the best he can, and of late his work is excellent. At night, almost every night, I tune in a tiny Sony “single cell AAA” AM/FM receiver, plug in my Chinese made earphones, tune in to a KLRD talk show, or KFAQ, or KOA Denver . . . or over to a local FM station, enjoying classical music in stereo, and fall asleep, knowing that unless I turn it off and back on, it will automatically shut down in precisely “90 minutes”, saving the single AAA “Duracell”, the only thing made in the USA.

The Chinese, who made my tiny radio tries his best to provide for his little family . . . and is under pressure to throw a new-born daughter into a well, because he’s only allowed “one child”, and hopes for a son, not because he loves the daughter any less, but because a “son” will have certain privileges, and possibly provide something for his parents in his old age.

The “mind-set” of an oriental is best understood by another oriental . . . so the Sony exec can best set up and oversee the Chinese sub-contractor . . . and the “Western mind” hasn’t a clue how to read the Chinese mind. (Yes, I once worked many hours with a Chinese neurosurgeon . . . even helped make him “wealthy”, and contributed in the process to make him a US citizen . . . possibly the only “machine shop” to have a neurosurgeon “on staff”.)

(The Obama trip into the “orient” is another story . . . and I’ll not go there just now . . . a terrible farce, with yet-to-be consequences.)

It isn’t a matter of intelligence, nor ability, nor motivation . . . a Chinese man who loves his wife, his kids, is working his tail off to provide for them . . . and eagerly does his best, whether it’s a Cessna, or a string of LED lights for some silly display on a Christmas tree in Albuquerque, sold at the local Target or Walmart, or Walgreens. The Chinese man or woman “on the assembly line” is working for a common goal . . . not much different from the little back-street machine shop on Cochiti Road, in Albuquerque.

The real problems are much deeper . . . or much higher in the political system as people in power or authority are intoxicated by their power to gain more control over their fellow man, even aspiring to become equal to God, Himself. It’s a “drug” . . . a little is not enough . . . and as one of the early multi-millionaires was once asked: “How much will it take to make you satisfied?” . . . the answer: “A little more!”

So it is . . . the arguments and reasoning cross paths, and arguments ensue, because neither is on the same page . . .nor understood.

Each side has good points, but neither can seem to focus on the same target . . . and both miss the point. What’s the common point? Maybe there isn’t a common point! And in frustration, we’re all shooting in all directions, hoping to hit something, and missing everything.

gadfly

(If you think that the gadfly enjoys messing with your brain . . . you're right. What ever it takes to get you to "think".)

gadfly said...

Shane

Happy fiftieth birthday!

Fifty is an excellent number . . . when I reached that “ripe old age”, we were finally into the best economic period of our history . . . 1987, breathing a sigh of relief (all too short, I’m sorry to relate) of a president that understood the true meaning and foundations of our nation, over on the western side of the “pond”. The “youngest” of the kids, now a mother of four, and married to a husband with a “Master’s” from Stanford, was about to enter college, Biola and USC, as a female bio-medical/mechanical engineer. The “oldest” was entering into the complex system of education and politics . . . dealing with even the politicos in Washington, and back in Santa Fe, doing what I taught him . . . without compromise of basic Christian principles. (Can you believe I have “computer photos” of my son, with Senator Ted Kennedy, and Robert Byrd . . . that’s a stretch, but it’s true.)

Fifty . . . that’s a great year . . . half a century . . . at once it sounds “old”, and yet there was once “Another” who was criticized for not yet being fifty. And you’ll have to look it up to see both the incident, and the response: The Gospel of John, chapter 8, verses 57 and 58 . . . upon these verses swing the entire hinges of time and eternity. Read before, and after, to get the “context”. Reading scripture is much like real-estate . . . the three most important rules to remember are: “Location, location, location”.

You miss this one, and you miss everything.

Fifty . . . a great year to consider everything of value, . . . a target of extreme importance.

gadfly

(“Happy Birthday” . . . for me, almost a quarter century ago. Can you believe that? . . . Never mind, you needn’t answer.)

gadfly said...

Little known facts:

A couple centuries ago, the most printed and read book was the Bible.

The second most read book was “A Pilgrim’s Progress”, by John Bunyan . . . written while he was in prison, for his Christian stand.

There may be a time coming, all too soon, when folks that have put their trust in the Author of the Bible will again pay a price.

gadfly

(‘Can’t happen here? . . . ask the people in China . . . the Netherlands of 1940's . . . or those in Ethiopia when the great and mighty “Il Duce” won his single war, against the “goat herders” back in the nineteen thirties . . . or a long list of other folks, that “paid the ultimate price”. History is no respecter of persons, not then, not now. When the missionaries returned to Ethiopia after the war, they expected to find few Christians. Instead, they found a thriving church, eager to expand their knowledge of the Bible, to teach others . . . and the same story is told, today, in China, in Korea, in many lands around the globe. We center our attention on things like the Cessna . . . and other single interest objects, often missing the big picture . . . the things that count.)

Black Tulip said...

Shane,

Happy Birthday,

It matters not the age of the clock,

As long as the pendulum keeps swinging.

gadfly said...

Those "eight day clocks" are a crock! It's much better to wind them up often.

gadfly

('Keep on tickin'!)

gadfly said...

Another little known fact: The pendlum on an eight-day clock swings about 63 times per minute . . . something to do with getting the gear ratios correct for the "lunar month" and all that sort of thing. Armed with this new knowledge . . . what are you going to do with it?

gadfly

(Keep on truckin' . . . or swingin' . . . whatever!)

Black Tulip said...

Another quotation about clocks,

"If my DVD player is so smart, how come it has been flashing '12:00' for the five years I've owned it."

gadfly said...

Dark Blossom

Back in olden times, when VHS recorders ran on kerosene, or wind-up springs, I sometimes thought the purpose of business trips was to stop by a certain relative, and re-set the electronic clocks . . . it being difficult to sleep in the same room with a blinking light.

There was a time when at the beginning of each school year, we young school attenders* (inmates) would watch with fascination as all the clocks in the school would begin clicking away, to catch up with the master clock in the principal’s office. From then until June, the only thing of interest was when the bell would ring for recess, or lunch, or for us to put our papers away under the lid our desks, and go home . . . to something interesting and educational.

gadfly

* “School Attenders” extra ordinaire: Miniature human beans, sometimes erroneously referred to as “students”, but more accurately “clock watchers”, who can predict with precision the instant the clock will make that final “click”, and the bell will ring, initiating a temporary reprieve from a complete waste of time, that could better be applied to chasing girls, flying gliders, and otherwise filling in the valuable time of youth.

Somewhere in there I seemed to have gotten an education . . . it certainly wasn't at school . . . so where did I go wrong?!

gadfly said...

Thanksgiving gets right down into the meat of life . . . the basics of Who is in charge, and who we are, in light of that.

The clock is ticking off the remaining hours and minutes of the day before “Thanksgiving”. And I’ll be so bold to speak of my “namesake”, who started out twice, aboard the “Speedwell” ( an old leaking hulk) . . . and with little hope of getting much beyond sight of the English coast, bid farewell to the other ship, the “Mayflower”, and caught up the following year. His partner, William Bradford, in obtaining the “patents” (permissions of the King, etc.), would go on ahead. My own namesake and his son, my ancestor, would come the following year . . . 1621. The son would be raised by Governor Bradford, and would eventually marry a girl that came the year before . . . and that girl would be the final survivor of the first group that landed at Plymouth. They were not “Puritans”, but “Pilgrims”, “Separatists” . . . it’s important to know the distinction. (For information about the “Puritans”, you’ll have to go a few miles north, and a few years later, to Boston, etc. The Bostonian Puritan "witch hunters" will have to answer on their own . . . sorry, can't help you on that one! . . . different folks.)

The first Thanksgiving was to God, . . . make no mistake! Only half of the original “Pilgrims” survived, but they recognized that it was God who had brought them through that first bitter winter. And God used the Indians to show them how to survive in the following years. But modern liberal minds have labored to “re-write” history. Today, I’m a living testimony of God’s grace, His keeping power, about thirteen , or is it twelve . . . generations from the time of my ancestor, Thomas Cushman, married that little girl, Mary, who had, herself, gone through the first voyage, and bitter winter, etc. This is not “politically correct”, but it happens to be the facts. The “namesake”? . . . Robert returned to England and is buried there, having died in 1625.

“Thomas Cushman married Mary Allerton (b 1616), the youngest daughter of Isaac Allerton . . . Both Mary and Isaac were Mayflower passengers. Thomas succeeded William Brewster as Ruling Elder upon Brewster's death in 1644. Thomas and Mary had eight children. Thomas died in 1691 and Mary died in 1699. Mary was the last Mayflower passenger to die.”

Ah . . . we could go on and on. As I put together the dates, the ages, etc., and even this weekend praying for the healing/protection of one of my grand-daughters . . . evidently about the age of Mary Allerton, so long ago, having spent too many hours in “ER” over the last day or so, I’m reminded of the frailty of life, and the gracious care of a loving Creator, and Savior. And I make no apologies . . . this is where I am . . . at once the “gadfly”, wanting each and every one of you, to know the true meaning of Thanksgiving, as declared by Abraham Lincoln, when he, too, recognized and brought into focus the true nature of our very existence and blessings .

Do your own homework . . . regardless of the “political correctness” of re-written history, . . . it will take you places that will change your world view.

And regardless of who you are, and your "faith", and your political view, it was this tiny group of Christians that are the focus of the all the benefits and blessings that followed . . . that today allow us to explore and either move ahead into even greater things, or return into the abyss of previous generations . . . that were known as the age of darkness.

gadfly

(Don’t miss the true meaning, nor the object of our Thanksgiving!)

(There are rumors that the "eagle" and "turkey" were mixed up at the last moment . . . and that today we would enjoy a meal of stuffed eagle, with the turkey displayed as our national symbol . . . but don't you believe it for a second.)

gadfly said...

This is the one holiday . . . “Holy Day”, if you will . . . that grabs my very “being” . . . the one and only day that brings into focus everything else. Nothing in the Bible talks about “Christmas” nor “Easter” . . . sorry, but it ain’t there . . . and even if you study it carefully, even the angels don’t sing. Didn’t you know that? . . . They don’t sing! Period! . . . except maybe “Harold” . . . or is it “Herold” . . . for the life of me, I get those two mixed up. But go into the “Psalms”, and it’s like suddenly being confronted with everything that feeds a person’s very soul.

Sure . . . I’m playing with your mind . . . did you think for a minute that the gadfly would pass a single opportunity? . . . Think again . . . and be forewarned, the gadfly will use each and every opportunity to stimulate you, . . . force you, to “Think” . . . and reason things outside and beyond your normal “comfort zone”.

“Comfort Zone’ . . . that’s where you don’t have to think about the things that count for now and eternity . . . especially that last one . . . the “eternity” thing. Sit back, scroll through the menu of entertainment . . . surely something will lock on . . . and if nothing else, there’s always “Fox News”, etc. But in the dark hours of night, sooner or later, the real issues are there. Even Hannity or O’Reilly somehow doesn’t cut it . . . it lasts until the station break, but then . . . Van something or other comes on . . . and we’re back to page one.

God gave me a brain . . . in fact, a very good brain! He expects me to use it. And if I have anything to say about it, I’ll use it at each and every opportunity . . . and at the moment, you are confronted with some things that might not have previously entered into your “mind-set”.

Congratulations: You are now presented with some thoughts outside the “box”.

gadfly

(Hey . . . don’t back up . . . move ahead, and use the little grey cells. They’re a special gift from the Creator . . . don’t’ treat them with disrespect.)

gadfly said...

OK . . . it’s time!

In the dark recesses of this and previous blogs, for whatever reasons, we remained anonymous commentators . . . not the special “tators”, but the common ones . . . and that’s the category of the “gadfly”. In the early days, certain folks were all too ready to blame some of us for their demise. It would appear that by now, most have figured it out, that Eclipse Aviation was it’s own greatest enemy, and was bent on destruction from “day one”. Anyone with an ounce of understanding of aerodynamics, and aircraft manufacturing, was fully aware of all that . . . way back when . . . even before the wonderful new releases being fed to the public. But even with that knowledge, it was almost impossible to get that information into the minds of the public, etc. People have a tendency to believe the things that they “wish” to believe, and are not willing to confront basic facts . . . it’s all so uncomfortable . . . and besides, the political winds seem to be blowing in a different direction. Bill Richardson: You got that one right . . . well, maybe briefly . . . soon, maybe sooner that you wish, you are about to be “found out”. But that’s another subject.

Recently a man died. He was a Democrat, and greatly respected by most . . . believe it or not! He was even further “right” than the common Republican, that moves about the western plains . . . like a jack-rabbit or “cotton-tail”. Bruce King was a man of total integrity, loved by conservatives . . . from either side of the isle, alike.

Nothing can be put against this man . . . he was everything in private that he was in public. He lived . . . he died . . . he was an example of what God can do through a single man. Even a Democrat can be a most honorable man. Today, the major labels don’t apply . . . Republican . . . Democrat . . . “other” . . . words have lost their meaning.

The “phoneys” have all shown up, the present governor, a past US president . . . paying their respects . . . a farce to be sure. But the legacy of Bruce King will forever be among the best of New Mexico.

Few men, indeed, have such a clean record of life and service . . . loved by most who have known him, without any “footnotes” to explain anything.

gadfly

(Thank God for men like Bruce King.)

gadfly said...

Thanksgiving 2009!

This is my favorite day . . . above all others . . . because it represents everything that God, Himself, has provided. There is no other day, on the planet, that equals it.

First, I have a Savior, and I belong to Him.

Beyond that, everything I need, or have received, or will ever receive, comes from Him. There is nothing I can add to that . . . and I bow in tears and total humility to this great God and Savior, with Whom I will spend eternity.

For that, Thanksgiving is a day beyond explanation.

gadfly

(May each and every one of you, come to know the Joy and Peace of this most wonderful day.)

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

"People have a tendency to believe the things that they “wish” to believe, and are not willing to confront basic facts . . . it’s all so uncomfortable . . . and besides,"

Gad, I am a big fan of yours, and I respect you a lot, so it is with humility and respect that I ask you to reconcile the post containing the above... with the following:

"First, I have a Savior, and I belong to Him. Beyond that, everything I need, or have received, or will ever receive, comes from Him."

Serious question, looking for insight and wisdom.

Thanks

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

back to airplanes, Epic news

apparently there are 4 bidders for the Epic business wreckage. 2 of them we are told are names familiar in the aviation world.

the next court date is December 7

Hopefully They will be able to get the unfinished airplanes finished for the builders somehow. however no word on what might happen to those people who gave money to Epic to purchase major components but they were never purchased. Several people and at least one blogger in the past on this blog paid for an engine but the money somehow disappeared.

gadfly said...

Taximan

You asked me to reconcile the two statements (below):

"People have a tendency to believe the things that they “wish” to believe, and are not willing to confront basic facts . . . it’s all so uncomfortable . . . and besides,"
"First, I have a Savior, and I belong to Him. Beyond that, everything I need, or have received, or will ever receive, comes from Him."

So, with the clear understanding that “some” will be offended, I’ll attempt to keep it simple and directly to the point.

In my work, I assume various laws of physics . . . design various devices/machines based on those assumed facts and principles. And I build the machines/tools/etc., that I have designed, and put them through various tests. Over time, I come to a certain level of confidence in my work and designs, etc., and continue to design/fabricate further machines based on what I both know in theory, the experience of others, and my own hard-won testing and use.

For instance: Some of my grandfather’s engines, designed over a century ago, sit in our front entrance . . . some we have taken apart and discovered no “cylinder wear” what-so-ever, and we understand why “Grandpa” could warrantee his engines for ten years. Even today, we can “fire up” those ancient engines, and have them perform as if they are “brand new” (and they even look brand new), . . . some are 107 years old.

In the case of spiritual things, certain claims are made in Scripture. And over many years, I have studied (in formal education at a leading Bible Institute in Chicago) theology/bibliology/and a long list of other “ologies”, discovering from just the mechanical (as it were) claims a total consistency between “claim” and physical evidence. However, that really doesn’t “cut it” when it comes to life and death, and pain and suffering, etc.

Beyond all the theory, in real life . . . peace and joy are not easily “faked” . . . when someone you love dies, or you go through the “pits”, the facade comes off, and you find out what life is all about. And then it is that you either discover that it’s a “sham”, or you discover, first hand, and close up . . . the realities of belonging to the Savior.

From my earliest memory, I have observed first hand, what it is for two parents, and the rest of real life to be entrusted into the hands of a loving Savior, depending on His Word, when all logic argued the opposite . . . And during the real-life experiences, down where the “rubber meets the road”, I have Peace and Joy, which is beyond any human reasoning.

In our little family, we have met with death, sickness, loss, and all the other things that could be added to the list, and found in the very midst of things that normally tear many apart, we have the joy and peace that is not explained in human terms, nor reasoning. And even if that were not enough, I can say with Job, so long ago, I know that my Redeemer Lives . . . and I will one day see Him . . . etc. And if it weren’t for that, nothing else would matter. Notice I never claimed “happiness” . . . which depends on “happenstance”, . . . but rather “Joy” and “Peace” which are in spite of outward conditions, and far beyond human reasoning.

At age eight, I publicly asked my Savior into my heart and life. That was the summer of 1946. Not once have I doubted Him, nor regretted for an instant, that single intelligent choice, and trust. Many times I failed in my part, but not once has He failed in His part.

So much to say . . . so much more to share . . . And I know these words have offended many. But there it is . . . and I make no apologies.

gadfly

(‘Guess we’ve gone in every other direction on this blogsite . . . maybe the real-life, from the heart experiences of a Bible student/pilot/A&P/submariner/inventor/house builder/brick layer/ditchdigger/designer/manufacturer/plumber/electrician/electronics-technician/entrepreneur/artist/lousy student/happy husband/father/grand-father/etc., can find a place in there, somewhere.)

airtaximan said...

Thank you for indulging me, Gad.

Anyone who is offended by what you wrote probably cannot understand the thought that went into it, and the elegance of the expression of your feelings and opinions.

I do not see how anyone would be offended by it - but there are folks who are offended by many things I cannot understand. My question could have been offensive to you, for example.

I have asked a similar question to many folks, and your answer is one of the best.

Have a great day - I am sure you will be counting your blessings.

Respectfully,
taximan

baron95 said...

Happy Thanksgiving all....

I thought we should celebrate it with good GA news....

The G650 - which I think is on track to be the most capable dedicated Biz Jet by quite a big margin - just took to the skies for its maiden flight. So congratulations to the Gulfstream team.

I guess the C162 and G650 represent the latest entries at the bottom and top of purpose-built (as opposed to airline conversions like 777-VIPs) GA/BizAv.

I think there is a lot of choices at the low end (piston singles) and high end (large jets).

The mid market, though, has very few choices. E.g. still no Single Engine Jets, no presurized piston twins, etc.

If you want a modern airframe (something designed in the last decade or so), the jump is a *HUGE* one from an SR22 to C510 Mustang.

Floating Cloud said...

Baron:

I know I've been critical of you and some of your viewpoints, but I am so glad to hear about airplanes again and not the bible that I could just kiss you!

Floating Cloud

Beedriver said...

Why aren't there any new mid range airplanes?

The basic reason is

1. that there has been no real improvements in technology except for avionics in 20 years. The airplanes built 20 years ago are basically the same performance, load capacity, fuel efficiency etc as those built now.
2. The demand is smaller or in the max the same as 20 years ago so that the demand can be easily taken care of by purchasing and modifying old airplanes with new avionics and in some cases new upgraded engines like (king Air 200 etc) at a lower price than buying new.

Thus unless there are substantial improvements primarily in engine capability or a much increased demand there will be a very small market for new airplanes.


Some of these improvements could be more efficient airframes, Cirrus is an example, but the most important improvement will be dramatic engine improvements in cost vs power and efficiency.

RR, williams, etc tried to make a much cheaper turboprop but failed. Diesel engines have not really proven out yet and even there, there are major problems with what exists. no small (160 hp) diesel exists yet that truly has a 2000 hour TBO The only 300 hp class diesel engine has very major problems and the V8 is the wrong configuration anyway and at least 300 lbs over weight. A v8 diesel is a long way from being a reliable 2000 hour engine.

most major aircraft developments are driven by dramatic improvements in engine technology. eg what the turbojet and turboprop provided relative to the large radial pistons. thus until there is a turboprop that is 600 hp at sea level for $150,000 or less or a true 350 to 400 hp at 20,000 ft diesel that is shape, weight, price and altitude performance competitive with the existing 540/520/580 engines will there be a push to design and build new airframes. otherwise most of the market need can be easily be taken care of by recycled existing airframes.

baron95 said...

Floating Cloud - email a picture and we will see if the kiss can be arranged ;)

Bee, you are right, of course, on the engine front.

But Cirrus showed you can achieve Mooney performance with the simplicity and insuarability of a fixed gear, while offering a much larger, more comfortable cabin.

They did that with the same engine and walked away with the cake from Cessna/Mooney/Beech/Piper.

So, I would not be so quick to dismiss airframe improvements and innovation.

E.g. I'm interested in seeing how the pressurized DA-50 does in the market. Will it kill the Malibu, Bonanza, Matrix, Saratoga?

What about a future pressurized DA52? Would that kill the Baron and encroach on the Meridian/TBM?

gadfly said...

Taximan

While it’s on my mind . . . thinking back over recent events in aircraft manufacturing, we’ve seen some sloppy development and things rushed to market before they were complete and thoroughly tested. I think back over sixty years, watching my Dad invent and machine various devices . . . the many cable tension regulators for all control surfaces (and many throttle systems) beginning with the Lockheed “Constellation”, the X-15 rocket plane (eight of his units on the highest flying aircraft, ever . . . 350,000 feet), the many Boeing and Douglas multi-engine jets, most still using his “regulators” . . . and the “T-60" tensiometer, a familiar tool to A&P’s around the world . . . and the inertia restraint system, both the “reel” behind almost every pilot and co-pilot in commercial aviation . . . and the five-point disconnect buckle . . . the quick disconnect cable coupling system, for rapid removal and re-rigging of the cable control systems, the thousands of seat position systems on almost all early piston and multi-engine jet airliners . . . nineteen patents in all. And every time I read or hear of a crash, I look for any evidence that one of my Dad’s inventions have failed . . . like the failure of the horizontal tail surface on the MD-80, that went down near Long Beach, some time back . . . and, no, it wasn’t the cable tension regulators that failed, but the “jack screw”, etc. He’s been dead for 52 years . . . and I look for any signs of failure of any of the tens of thousands of his devices . . . none, at least not yet.

Could it be that there was something in the man that caused him to not only invent these many life-saving devices, but saw to it that he was a perfectionist, when each and every device went directly from his hands, into production, along with thorough testing?. He didn’t live long enough to realize the lives saved when that big Sikorsky went down in the Swiss Alps in the summer of 1957 . . . and all on board walked away . . . held securely with his inertia restraint system. He certainly didn’t do it for the money . . . his final year he made $7,000 salary, and his widow, my Mother, got the $5,000 Christmas bonus . . . for those many devices for Pacific Scientific Co.

It’s impossible to separate the character of a man from the products of his mind and skills. The legacy of the man continues, and when I speak of things that motivate me, I echo the very things that made my own father “tick” . . . his core beliefs and integrity. And, yes, I’ve had some success as well in inventing some things that are saving lives in the medical/surgical world, while at times called on to design and build certain high-tech devices for aircraft . . . such as aboard the Airborne Laser Lab (Argus), etc., and some lesser devices, for study of high-altitude air currents over White Sands.

As we look over and discuss various aircraft, and the systems that keep them safe, we must always include the character of the designers, and company owners . . . how can it be otherwise . . . even though some may find the discussion uncomfortable at times.

gadfly

‘Things to “chew on” with the brain . . . like a cow chewing the cud.

Phil Bell said...

A Happy Thanksgiving for all, I trust!

(One way travels about the US for me- first time in 10 years it seems, that that has not resulted in automatic "random" complications.

(My person -er, and ego- did not suffer the typical minor -but annoying- indignities, although my checked (and unchecked) bags were searched. They did a nice job though- I actually started to return one bag, because it was much more neatly packed than I had done- really! :).

julius said...

Thanksgiving Day - also for EAI?

Did anybody look at the leadership team and the BoD of Eclipse Aerospace? Ok, a nicely prepared turkey always is more interesting...

Ekim Alptekin (Dutch-Turkish entepreneur based in Ankara) is Executive Vice President, Europe and a director!
(Does he know RiP?)
That's why the EASA cert is so important! I do not believe that M&M are not going to sell reman fpjs to Turkey

As if the wedge is at the helm: no press information about the new teams and its members!

Julius

P.S.: At the MEBA 2008 (November!) there was a fpj with Myjet (of Turkey) colours!
"Mr. Serdar GĂ–KSAL, Board Member of MyJet Turkey, adds: "This is the first time we are attending MEBA 2008 and we are delighted to participate together with Palm Aviation. We have a strong commitment to the Eclipse 500 and to prove this we have placed an order for 120 aircraft; we believe that the Eclipse 500 will revolutionize air transportation and together with Palm Aviation we would like to introduce this revolution to MEBA visitors.""

julius said...

That's why the EASA cert is so important! I do not believe that M&M are not going to sell reman fpjs to Turkey


Correction: Naturally I do not believe that M&M will only sell refurbished fpjs to Turkey!


Julius

airtaximan said...

Shame on GA for providing terrific products 30 years ago and more, such that improvements are difficult to come by.

True, development cycles in engine technology are long, and expensive, and difficult. But the real issue is, the planes were made to tough standards, and improving upon them is difficult.

Even the improvements, such as avionics (terrific improvements) arguably should require older technology back ups...

Its not difficult to understand why "improvements" are tough to come by.

It is tough to justify spending money on what might be a minor improvemnt, so to speak. Incremental, if you will.

Pleasure fliers, which is the bulk of GA owners, probably do not care much for these improvements.

GA for transport probably do not care for newer, more expensive planes in the category you are referng to as lacking in improvements - a craft with higher utility, probably is their choice.

There have been no significant cost reducers for small planes, such that most folks using GA for transport will choose them.

Not enough for it to really make sense, anyways.

At the end of the day, there needs to be a market to justify all this... and the smaller GA transport plane loses, and the smaller GA transport jet loses big time. Except for what looks like a pretty small market.

Making aviation smaller, lighter and cheaper (cheap enough to make a difference and justify the investment) is probably a recipe for failure, especially regarding lifecycle cost, durability, safety and utility.

michal said...

The mid market, though, has very few choices. E.g. still no Single Engine Jets, no presurized piston twins, etc.

This is no 'mid' market. The airplanes you mention represent in fact the bottom of the GA market. If by your own admission high-end represents the big GA jets like the G650 then there are plenty of choices in the true mid market - all kinds of twin biz jets, anything between $5 mln and $30 mln. In fact a buyer in this GA mid market has plethora of choices like in no other aviation market.

baron95 said...

Not true Michal,

The median price of GA is right around that mark $1.5M. 1/2 of GA planes sell for less, half for more.

It varies somewhat year to year, this year is higher because piston sales cratered, for instance.

But that $1.x-$3M is the median of the GA market. That is the market that a single engine jet or pressurized twin piston would occupy.

baron95 said...

(PS above numbers based on GAMA, excludes LSA)

airtaximan said...

Baron,

yes, and the median price of my house and Madonna's is $14.7 million...

also, the big fallacy is that there is a sizable turbo jet market for a prop mission.

Vern and Ed proved this to be a big mistake - they had to "invent" the air taxi market (for their VLJ) which cratered even faster than their VLJ business did.

Need to begin learning from the past history, or you'll be reliving it, or worse, rewriting it!

airtaximan said...

"The median price of GA is right around that mark $1.5M. 1/2 of GA planes sell for less, half for more."

"New" or "used and new"?

airtaximan said...

Baron... if I were trying to make a case for a $1.5 M littler jet, I'd look at new and used, and I'd conclude that the market is part of the planes (mostly higher performance single and twin props) that are worth $1M or so.

These trade up candidates number around 15,000, best I can tell.

Not all will trade

Maybe 25% would

That's 3750 jets or 370 per year for 10 years or a more reasonable 250 for 15 years.

This leaves precious little room for a market of a few players, needing VOLUME to achieve the low selling price in the first place.

One could always forward price the jet anyways based on 750-1000 per year, and worry about it later... but that will leave you needing to eventually "invent" a passenger service market to continue the saga... you will not have nearly enough real orders from real clients.

michal said...

Baron, this is the problem with whatever you write - you must feel that the only way to a score points on this forum is to engage in gross hyperbole. On one hand you shower praise on EA500 on the other you find a darling at the other extreme - a $60 mln G650. Nothing in between is good enough for you, creative enough, modern enough, you basically dismiss everything in between. On one hand you want everybody to jump to a turbine powered Skyhawk on the other you shower praise on 'extreme' jets which very few can afford. Get real man, unless being ridiculous is your only objective here.

baron95 said...

airtaximan said...
"New" or "used and new"?
------------------------

Hah!!! Excellent point/question.

This is the key - you have to look at the market as a whole. And if we roll used in, then the mean price is much lower.

I think this will be an even greater problem.

I think in the later 70s/early 80s, airframes, engines, avionics reached a stable plateau. We had all the models from Beech, Piper, Cessna, Mooney, in, the same TCM/Lyc engines, and the same Silver Crown avionics. Results? New planse sales dove.

I think we are entering a new era. There was a blip in sales this decade as fully integrated G1000 glass (et al) came in, the new airframes SR22/C350/400, Diamond, Phenom, TBM/Meridian/PC12, etc, and some power upgrades Diesels, PT-6-135A (et al upgrades), samall turbofans.

That bread new life into the market.

Question is, what happens when all the above new frames, engines, G1000 combination start becoming available in the used market?

If there is a Phenom 100/300 with latest small turbofan/avionics on the used market for 40% less, why would I buy anything new, that offers no benefit?

Same for C510s or SR22s.

In cars, PCs, and planes, a new market can only be sustained by continuous innovation.

Once we hit a stable "features/capabilities" plateau, things stall.

Just think about what would happen to HP, Dell, etc if they didn't offer 50% performance increases every year.

The only alternative (possibly) to continuous innovation is to grow the market or lower prices.

E.g. You can probably sell Tat Nanos in India, because you are growing the market. That is what is going on (to some extent with LSAs).

I think GA is in for some serious pain once we reach volume in the used market of these new frame/engine/glass combos.

If Cessna and Beech and Lear (etc) are not planning for that, they are doomed.

Wichita will be the next Detroit (except for Spirit).

baron95 said...

Michal said...Nothing in between is good enough for you, creative enough, modern enough, you basically dismiss everything in between.
-----------

Are you serious?

I think the SR22/DA50/DJet/Phenom100/300 when fully realized (i.e. DA50 and DJet certified and in production, Phenom support centers up, etc) is a near perfect line up in price/capability from $500K-$5M new.

I've been very vocal and on the record on that. We could add a DA20/C162/DA42 as trainer in there if you want and you have the full picture.

I have not special affinity with G650s, I just thought it was very nice that that plane is on schedule, fully funded and flew just before Thanksgiving. I admire Gulfstream for that.

airtaximan said...

baron,

the G650 is incremental... actually, no real jump in utility or technology at all.

Makes our/my point about innovation in GA quite strongly actually.

Your desire to want to see something really dramamtic (like 50% improvement) in the lower end of GA will leave you dissappointed, or worse, shafted if you fall into the same trap as the EA folks.

Its nice to dream, but no rational manufacturer will forward price a jet just to try to gain volume to meet a vapor market that now flies a prop, or worse, a taxi jet market.

Your personal desires have nothing to do with a leap in tech or price/value in this market.

The safety and reliability issues together with the real aero issues basically made the first few generations of products too good.

There's little room for improvement. YOUR definiton of improvement, aside.

Trying to meet a pro technology mission with a jet, and LOWERING the cost, is going to be really tough. Proof is in the history.

So, I now feel like you have made my point very well.

Thanks

airtaximan said...

"If there is a Phenom 100/300 with latest small turbofan/avionics on the used market for 40% less, why would I buy anything new, that offers no benefit?

Just remember, the latest turbofan is no revolution. Prety much same $/lbst... maybe some volume pricing and volume pricing for support & MRO.

Your argument has been there's a real market for some 50% improvement in technology... in GA at the low end, together with some distain for the OEMS who shy away from all this risk.

Now you say the best value is "used"...

There's no performance improvement in the low end that's meaningful, not even a jet from prop... for any large market.

Remember there are 300,000 props in the world.

Your desire for cutting edge and 50% "improvements" is retarded by your statement that you'd rather buy used.

No disrespect, just a word that seems to fit.

This is

airtaximan said...

to drive home the point even further, the powerplant for the Phenom 300 is PW500 vintage - "older" tech... entered service 10 years ago... developed before that.

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Ricky Johnson said...






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