ATC Complaints Spur FAA To Issue Eclipse Pitot AD

 - June 26, 2007, 10:42 AM

As Eclipse Aviation awaits FAA approval of a new-design pitot/angle-of-attack probe to prevent a freezing problem that occurred during three test flights, the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive in final form, effective tomorrow. Operators had been able to file an IFR flight plan but had to remain in VMC. The AD further restricts Eclipse 500 operations to day VFR, no IFR flight plans allowed. Air traffic controllers, according to the FAA, said that allowing Eclipse pilots to file and fly IFR but requiring them to avoid IMC “creates an undue workload burden on the controller workforce when the pilots have to refuse any instructions that take them into IMC.” The AD offers no relief for Eclipse operators, but it is an interim move, the FAA said, and the agency will consider terminating the VFR limitation after Eclipse modifies the pitot/AOA probe and the FAA approves the change. Eclipse has already submitted a new pitot/AOA probe design to the FAA and expects certification next month, with fleet retrofit by early September.