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Eclipse 500 Deemed Fit to Fly
Eclipse 500 Deemed Fit to Fly

The Eclipse 500 is safe to fly and was certified in accordance with 14 CFR Part 23 -- so determined the FAA Special Certification Review, launched by the FAA to evaluate compliance issues related to the very light jet´s type certification.

Concerns raised by employees at the time type certification was issued prompted he FAA to order the review, which was conducted Aug. 11-Sept. 12.

In the course of the review, a seven-member SCR panel of technical experts, led by Jerry Mack, a former Boeing Safety Executive, met with FAA and Eclipse personnel and examined all certification documents. However, the team members- none of whom had been involved in the Eclipse 500 certification process--focused mainly on examining Service Difficulty Reports in the four main areas of concern: cockpit displays/screen blanking, stall speeds, trim, and flaps.

The certification-related findings, along with six recommendations to the FAA on how to improve regulatory and policy guidance, were issued Sept. 13, on the cusp of the Sept. 17 House Aviation Subcommittee hearing on alleged regulatory lapses in the Eclipse 500´s certification and manufacture.

The SDR´s main findings led to its final conclusion that the Eclipse 500 was fit to fly and had been certified in accordance with Part 23:

*The means of compliance proposed for the Eclipse 500 Electronic Flight Information System (EFIS) was acceptable.

*No incidences of screen blanking affected multiple screens.

*The stall warning system was properly certified, but approach speeds were incorrectly documented in the Airplane Flight Manual at the time of initial type certification.

*At the time of type certification, the flap system was properly certified.

*There were no trim issues at the time of certification on conforming flight test articles.

*The FAA flight test function of the certification program was not staffed with correct mix of flight test engineers and pilots.

*Communication among parties was not effective.

*Function and reliability test objective was not well defined.

The FAA is in agreement with the review team´s recommendations, which include the following:

*The FAA should develop guidance for demonstrating compliance with regulatory requirements based on a combination of software and system development process.

*Eclipse Aviation and the FAA should conduct a root-cause analysis of the operational trim and mistrim issues being reported in the field, as well as a root analysis of the trim actuator failures documented in the SDRs.

*FAA should reevaluate the criteria for applicability of function and reliability testing.

The FAA´s certification processes and its performance-based system are likely issues to come under fire at the Sept. 17 House hearing.

One allegation surrounding the Eclipse 500 review is that certification was accelerated by an employee aiming to win a bonus under the FAA´s performance-based system. FAA spokesperson Lynn Tierney noted that the system awards bonuses for "a job done right," not because an employee is meeting a target date for certification

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