Before Eclipse Aviation declared bankruptcy and ended production of the Eclipse 500 in late 2008, the company manufactured about 260 of the very light twinjets.
Of these, some 30 were equipped with Avio NG avionics. At press time, seven aircraft had been upgraded for full flight-into-known-icing (FIKI) and Avio NG 1.5 avionics. It’s fair to assume that eventually all of the remaining “NG airplanes” will be upgraded.
Training in the differences between the modified aircraft and those with the original but limited flight-into-known-icing approval and the basic NG avionics is not automatic when the aircraft are modified–a $150,000 option offered by the newly formed Eclipse Aerospace in Albuquerque, N.M. Differ- ences training is typically an extra $995.
Differences training is essentially a no-charge item from Linear Air, which provides initial and recurrent training in the very light jet.
This training automatically includes modules for FIKI/1.5-upgraded airplanes. The Bedford, Mass.-based company operates four Eclipse 500s under Part 135 and recently introduced the first FIKI/1.5 upgraded aircraft into air-taxi service. The operator has flown the Eclipse in air-taxi service for several years and trained FAA inspectors so they can perform Eclipse 500 pilot check flights.
Cost of recurrent training at Linear Air’s facility on Hanscom Field, including the FIKI/1.5 differences segment, is $2,995. The recurrent training involves a half
day of ground school plus four hours of flight lessons in the owner’s aircraft.
Students can use Linear Air aircraft for $795 per hour dry. The FIKI/1.5 differences module requires another 1.5 hours in the air. If additional flight time is necessary, the cost of the Linear Air airplane plus $600 an hour of instructor time applies.
Operators of FIKI/1.5 converted aircraft are required to obtain this differences training, according to Linear Air president and CEO William Herp. He told AIN
that the “unique limitations section of the Eclipse AFM training mandates that training be conducted as specified by the manufacturer. Since FIKI/1.5 differences training is specified in that section and Part 91 requires compliance with limitations, this training is an FAA requirement.” Herp said the training requirements are the same for Part 91 and 135 operators.
Herp described some of the differences in the FIKI/1.5 aircraft that are the focus
of the training. For example, the FIKI mod provides expanded de-icing capability and control, and the 1.5 avionics has improved functions, as well as IFR-approved GPS operations. As a result, some of the objectives of the training for the Eclipse 500 owner are to demonstrate the aircraft’s different stall-protection characteristics with ice on, as well as enhanced autopilot functions with the Garmin 400W installed.
Differences in the exterior pre-flight inspections are also covered because the FIKI upgrade includes new boots, and adds four static wicks, a pad around the static ports on the aircraft’s nose to prevent ice formation in that area and a special coating for the windshield.
In the cockpit, there are now split switches designed to improve the engine anti-ice system, which now has left and right positions to provide redundancy. Said Herp, “In case of switch failure, we now have at least one engine with anti-ice protection. Before, with just a single switch, switch failure meant no engine anti-ice for either engine.” Training also targets the fact that both these switches are “three-position toggles, with the middle position for engine anti-ice, the top position for de-ice boots and the bottom position for off. Either switch in the top position will activate all the de-ice boots,” Herp explained.
Linear Air training also emphasizes the difference in how the composite mode of the 1.5 electronic displays work. “In the event of MFD failure, information that is normally shown on this display can be viewed on the PFD,” Herp said. “This includes the information that is continuously displayed at the top of the MFD [engine indications, gear status, trim status, pressurization and CAS messages] and synoptic pages for all the aircraft systems that are viewed on the bottom half of the MFD.” In the NG-equipped Eclipses, the composite mode was managed with a toggle button on a keyboard. In the Avio NG 1.5 version, the Garmin 400Ws replace the keyboard, so the PFD software has been updated so that composite and normal modes are managed directly on the PFD.
At press time, Herp told AIN that six pilots have gone through the FIKI/1.5 training.