Congress Investigating Eclipse Aviation, Won’t Say Why

 - July 8, 2008, 11:57 AM

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has asked the Department of Transportation’s inspector general (IG) to investigate Eclipse Aviation. The investigation has been opened, a committee spokesman acknowledged, but he was unable to provide details about the subject of the probe. “If there’s enough evidence that will warrant action such as an oversight hearing,” he said, “we may go that route, but no decisions have been made.” The investigation appears to stem from an October 2006 union grievance filed by two FAA inspectors against managers at the FAA’s Fort Worth certification offices, accusing the managers of granting the Eclipse 500 type certificate on Sept. 30, 2006, “without allowing the aircraft certification engineers and flight-test pilots to properly complete their assigned certification/safety responsibilities.” There have been suggestions that managers’ bonuses were tied to certification goals and that certification of the Eclipse 500 on the last day of the FAA’s fiscal year (a Saturday) ensured that bonus targets were met. “We know nothing” about the investigation, said Eclipse president and CEO Vern Raburn. “The IG has not talked to us. The House hasn’t talked to us. The FAA has told us this is going on, but it has never said what it’s about, so we’re in the dark as to what these safety allegations are.” The earliest any action could take place would be after the August congressional recess, according to the committee spokesman.