A dispute has arisen between Calvin Scovel, the Inspector General for the Transportation Department and Robert Sturgell, the FAA Administrator. The dispute involves the certification process for the Eclipse E500's type certificate, and the fact that the FAA approved single pilot operation of the jet despite the fact that the FAA's Flight Standardization Board recommended certification as a two pilot aircraft.
The Inspector General's office claims that certification of the Eclipse E500 aircraft was a calendar driven process with a predetermined outcome. Among the concerns regarding the aircraft are:
- Lack of a drainage system for the pitot static system;
- Flaps sticking in position;
- Intermittent blanking or freezing of cockpit displays;
- Intermittent false stall warnings
A number of current and former FAA staff members testified before the House Aviation Subcommittee claiming a pattern of pressure from FAA management to meet the timeline for certification of the Eclipse E500 aircraft.
One of the software engineers, Dennis Wallace, claims that he reported that the E500's software was not ready to be certified and was surprised to learn that the type certificate had been awarded anyway on a Saturday afternoon.
A common thread running through the hearing was that the FAA needs to move away from its "customer service" model which has lead to too many cozy relationships with manufacturers and towards making certain that customer safety remains the FAA's number one priority.
You can find a summary of the committee's topics at the hearing: "FAA Certificate of the E500"
Also, you can find a summary of the Inspector General's report here: "FAA’s Certification of the Eclipse EA–500 Very Light Jet"
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
For once you have tasted flight
you will walk the earth
with your eyes turned skywards,
for there you have been
and there you will long to return. -- Leonardo da Vinci