By John Croft
Problems with a rear wing spar attachment that have kept Eclipse Aviation's five Eclipse 500 test aircraft out of the air for several weeks will not affect imminent deliveries, says company president and chief executive Vern Raburn.
Eclipse grounded its fleet after discovering "excessive" wear in the attachment lug when fitting the new larger tip tanks on the aircraft. Raburn says the problem was attributed to an improperly installed bushing that worked its way out of the lug and eroded "some of the lug material". An inspection of the other four test aircraft revealed similar problems, although the first four production aircraft, two of which have already flown, did not exhibit the fault and have not been grounded. Eclipse has 32 aircraft in various stages of completion.
"We found a problem that came from accelerated usage," says Raburn. "We identified the problem and grounded the fleet. At no time was it a safety of flight issue." Raburn says a primary function of the attachment is to handle longitudinal loads that tend to pull the wing aft on landing. The fix for the test aircraft involves replacing the bushing with a larger size bushing and installing spacers to prevent the bushing from moving in the lug. Raburn said on 16 November he expected one of the five aircraft to be back in the air in a few days. The fix for production aircraft will include the spacers and updated procedures for installing the bushings.