DOT and FAA At Loggerheads Over Eclipse Certification Process

The Department of Transportation yesterday issued a report sharply critical of the FAA's certification procedures for the Eclipse 500 very light jet. The FAA had already publicly announced that its own team of inspectors found no substantive fault with the certification process. A hearing yesterday before the House Aviation Subcommittee included testimony to the effect that the FAA's desire to promote the plane may have contributed to rushing the approval process-not allowing inspectors sufficient time to adequately evaluate their areas of responsibility. The FAA team assigned with reviewing the certification procedures on the Eclipse 500 very light jet reported no fault with the process, but did make six specific recommendations for the agency to upgrade its own policies and internal communications. The review of the aircraft certification focused on trim, flaps, avionics software, cockpit displays and stall speeds. Citing what she labeled "inexperience" on the part of some FAA inspectors assigned to the program, Peg Billson, president and general manager of Eclipse's newly formed manufacturing division said the Eclipse 500 is "the most tested and safest general aviation aircraft."