For Immediate Release

September 12, 2008
Contact: Diane Spitaliere or Alison Duquette
Phone: (202) 267-3883

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today agreed to act on the recommendations of a team that reviewed the agency’s certification of the Eclipse EA500, a new Very Light Jet (VLJ). The team found that the airplane was certificated in accordance with safety regulations but that the agency could improve policies and communication procedures used during the VLJ certification process.

“This review tells us that while we made the right call in certifying this aircraft, the process we used could and should have been better coordinated. These recommendations will be invaluable as we continue certifying these new types of aircraft,” said Acting FAA Administrator Robert A. Sturgell

Sturgell said the review team, headed by former Boeing executive Jerry Mack, issued six recommendations as part of the Eclipse certification review, and that the agency is committed to acting on each of the recommendations.

The lessons learned from one of the first certifications of this new type of aircraft will help the agency as it examines the approximately eight other VLJ certification applications pending before the FAA, Sturgell added.

The team focused on the certification of airplane trim, flaps, cockpit displays, and stall speeds. The team determined that, for the most part, in-service difficulties were not related to the certification of the aircraft.

The team noted it is common for technical problems to be encountered during type certification of a new airplane, but that a lack of commonly used internal FAA documentation caused the perception that the aircraft might not have been properly certified. It also cited a lack of effective communication between Eclipse and the FAA, and between the responsible offices within the agency.

Sturgell said that the FAA agrees with all of the findings and recommendations in the report and is committed to taking the appropriate steps to ensure that increased communications and better procedures are put in place as the agency moves forward with the certification of this new category of aircraft.

The review was prompted by concerns raised by FAA employees. The review team consisted of FAA experts with specialties such as flight testing, avionics and certification. The included:

  • Jerry Mack, SCR team lead and former Boeing executive
  • Jerry Baker, Associate Aircraft Certification Manager for Flight Testing
  • Jim Richmond, Aircraft Certification Service Flight Program Manager
  • Vivek Sood, Manager of Safety Analytical Services
  • Peter Skaves, Special Projects Team Lead
  • Ali Bahrami, Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate
  • Ron Wojnar, Senior Advisor, Flight Standards Service

Special Certification Review Team
FAA’s Certification of the Eclipse EA500

September 12, 2008

  1. The FAA should develop guidance for demonstrating compliance to regulatory requirements based on a combination of software and system development processes.
  2. The FAA should revise Advisory Circular 23/1309-1C, Equipment, Systems, and Installations in Part 23 Airplanes, to address the emergence of turbine engine airplanes weighing 6000 lb. or less maximum certificated weight.
  3. The FAA and Eclipse should conduct a root cause analysis of the operational trim and mistrim issues being reported in the field.
  4. The FAA and Eclipse should conduct a root analysis of the trim actuator failures documented through the SDR system and other in-service reports.
  5. All cognizant FAA offices within the Aviation Safety Organization should work together to establish appropriate correction for fire suppression bottle failure issues documented through the SDR system and other in-service reports.
  6. The FAA should reevaluate the criteria for applicability of function and reliability testing.