The FAA today agreed to act on recommendations released this morning as part of the Eclipse 500 special certification review (SCR). The review was prompted by concerns raised in grievances filed by two FAA employees in late 2006. According to the agency, the SCR team determined that the very light twinjet was certified in accordance with safety regulations and found nothing that would require immediate corrective action on the in-service Eclipse 500 fleet. The review team, led by former Boeing executive Jerry Mack, focused on certification of aircraft trim, flaps, cockpit displays and stall speeds.
For the most part, the SCR team determined that reported in-service difficulties were not related to the aircraft certification process. However, the SCR team uncovered a “lack of effective communication” between Albuquerque, N.M.-based Eclipse Aviation and the FAA, as well as between the responsible offices within the agency itself during the course of the Eclipse 500 certification process. At one juncture, Flight Standards personnel flew an early-production airplane that was a non-conforming model. Flight Standards usually begins work near the end of the type certification process. The agency said the Saturday, Sept. 30, 2006, issuance of the type certification was requested by Eclipse and not tied to FAA employee bonuses. Despite the report, Eclipse 500 certification will continue to be under the spotlight in Washington, and a House aviation subcommittee hearing will be held on the matter on Wednesday morning. Peg Billson, the president and general manager of Eclipse’s manufacturing division, told AIN, “Eclipse isn't surprised by the findings of the review. We fully expected that the Eclipse 500 would be found compliant with all FAA certification regulations.”