Separate reviews of the Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ) certification processes are underway by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the US Congress.
The FAA revealed today that it had launched a 30-day special certification review of the twin-jet VLJ on 11 August, headed by former Boeing safety executive, Jerry Mack. The team includes seven FAA independent experts “with specialties such as flight testing, avionics and certification,” according to the FAA.
“The FAA convened this Special Certification Review (SCR) team to look at: aircraft safety, certification of aircraft trim, flaps, screen blanking, and stall speeds,” the FAA states. “These issues were the subject of service difficulty reports (SDRs) that have been filed by operators since the aircraft was certificated on September 30, 2006.”
Other aircraft subject to special reviews over the past 10 years include the Liberty XL-2, Mitsubishi MU-2B and Cessna 208.
The agency says it will investigate whether the problems had been raised during the certification process, and whether any of the issues represents threats to safety. Eclipse says it “welcomes independent investigation” in light of the fact that the Eclipse 500 certification process was “one of the most rigorous in FAA history.”
In a separate but related development, the US House of Representatives’ committee responsible for overseeing the FAA has called a special hearing on 17 September to investigate whether the agency certified the Eclipse 500 in late 2006 against the advice of its employees involved in the process.
A spokesman for the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure committee says the hearing will include the US Department of Transportation’s Inspector General’s office, which the committee had asked to review a “tip” regarding a potentially flawed certification process for the aircraft, as well as former Eclipse Aviation employees, the FAA and the US National Transportation Safety Board.”