Eclipse Aviation says it "welcomes" a US Federal Aviation Administration independent investigation into the Eclipse 500's airworthiness certification, a process the company says was "one of the most rigorous" in the agency's 50-year history.
The FAA has revealed that it launched a 30-day special certification review of the twin very light jet on 11 August, headed by former Boeing safety executive Jerry Mack. The team, including seven FAA independent experts specialising in flight testing, avionics and certification, will investigate issues that include whether ongoing service difficulty reports dealing with aircraft trim, flaps, screen blanking and stall speeds were not adequately addressed during certification.
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 certificated the Eclipse 500 in late 2006 against the advice of its employees involved in the process.
Sources close to Eclipse have suggested that the European Aviation Safety Agency will, within a week or so, provide Eclipse with details of the requirements for European certification, which the source says could be awarded within three months.
EASA, however, says: "We are not commenting on this certification process for which the FAA is the primary responsible authority." But in April EASA had told Flight International that there were issues with the Eclipse 500 in the European airspace environment that went beyond the need for cosmetic modifications compared with what the USA would require.
Meanwhile, Eclipse has denied reports that it is cutting supply orders from vendors, saying those decisions will be made after a suppliers conference to be held next week.