Eclipse Aviation has earned its flight into known icing (FIKI) certification for the Eclipse 500 very light jet, clearing the way for the aircraft to be used more effectively in all-weather air taxi operations.

Company test pilots recorded more than 300 flight hours using three aircraft during the campaign, which began in August 2007 with artificial shapes attached to the aircraft’s lifting surfaces to simulate ice build up. Eclipse says 60h of testing took place in natural icing in US and Canadian locations.


The VLJ’s 500 ice protection system includes pneumatic boots on the wing leading edge and horizontal stabilizer leading edge as well as bleed air for the engine inlet anti-ice. The windshield and air data probes are electrically heated. The testing included normal operations and failure conditions, says the company.

“We tested the aircraft in some of the most severe weather conditions we could find, wherever we could find it,” Eclipse president and CEO Vern Raburn comments. “By receiving the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification, we proved that the aircraft can withstand known icing conditions in a real-world operating environment with no structural changes required of the airframe.

Meanwhile Raburn says Eclipse will incorporate “design improvements” to the aircraft’s software to “prevent a rare engine fault that may occur if the aircraft’s throttle levers are advanced with enough force to exceed the aircraft’s FAA-certified design limits.”

The fix comes in the wake of a US National Transportation Safety Board recommendation and a subsequent FAA airworthiness directive calling for inspections of the throttle quadrant and checklist modifications after a pilot in Chicago experienced an uncontrollable full-power engine runaway when attempting to land in Chicago. Raburn says Eclipse “within 24h” had reviewed the incident aircraft’s factory-installed data collection and reporting system and found the fault was generated by an “exceedance” of the aircraft’s design limits.

“The company rapidly issued multiple communications to its customers making them aware of the issues” before the NTSB and FAA became involved, Raburn says. Across the fleet, Eclipse says a review of 12,000h of flight data turned up three occurrences of the same problem, including the Chicago incident. “While this tells us there is an extremely low probability of this fault happening, we are moving very aggressively to ensure it will not occur again,” Raburn says.