FAA Vows To Tweak Certification Regs for VLJs

 - September 18, 2008, 12:36 PM

Following a nearly six-hour hearing before the House aviation subcommittee yesterday, FAA associate administrator Nicholas Sabatini promised that the agency would work to improve certification procedures for very light jets. Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel III testified that the FAA chose to certify the EA-500 and other VLJs using certification requirements for general aviation aircraft rather than the more stringent certification requirements for larger transport aircraft. But in a “lessons-learned” review following the Sept. 30, 2006, type certification of the Eclipse, FAA managers acknowledged that the GA certification requirements were “inadequate to address the advanced concepts introduced on this aircraft.” According to the DOT IG, the FAA is developing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to clarify certification requirements for VLJs. “Given the issues surrounding the EA-500 certification, the FAA should expedite the NPRM to allay future concerns about this expanding industry segment,” Scovel told lawmakers. Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), subcommittee chairman, said the panel will be sitting down with the FAA, Eclipse and other stakeholders “in the near future” to “revisit” the certification of the Eclipse. It is not clear at this stage how the FAA’s pledge to “work to improve certification procedures for very light jets” will affect other jets now in the Part 23 certification pipeline or previously approved.