Eclipse Aviation has strongly defended the safety and reliability of its Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ) as EASA steps down tension and suggests it could  give certification later this year, even if it is several months past the original 2007 target date.

"We certainly hope to certify the aircraft, we have been saying, by the third quarter of this year, maybe end of the third quarter," says European Aviation Safety Agency Certification Manager for General Aviation Roger Hardy, "You might have differences of interpretation, and that is what the specialists on both sides are spending a lot of time discussing and trying to resolve."

Several hundred European customers have placed orders for the 500 and others have orders that depend on that certification. A second configuration for Europe absolutely will not happen, says president and CEO Vern Raburn. “There’s been a lot of blabbing out of EASA,” Raburn says.

The 500 is certified in India and Australia, but it’s the FAAs approval that matters most in this case. “It’s a validation process of the FAA certification prorgamme. The FAA has already made it clear that they think it’s certifiable. EASA had better have some pretty darn good reasons if they don’t think it is."

Hardy thinks outside speculation has gotten out of hand. "We are not demanding an Eclipse 500 version 2," he assures, though that possibility isn't yet ruled out. "We always reserve the rights in these processes to investigate those areas where there's a new technology or something complex and unusual. There are certain things in the Eclipse neither we nor the FAA has seen before."

There won’t be a single design change to satisfy EASA concerns, Raburn insists. “There’s really nothing that we’re planning to do to the aircraft,” Raburn says, aside from a door lock modification and software upgrades that were already planned.


Concerns previewed by EASA include the rate of emergency descent without compression from 41,000 ft (12,500m), and whether avionics testing is strict enough considering how it taps into so many systems with an unusual level of control.

There's been no official notices of concern, “With the exception of this door thing”, Raburn says, and they're nearly finished with the long list of questions from EASA over four years of dialogue.

The highly integrated Avio NG system will bring numerous features online once its approved by the FAA. "I expect clarification within the next 60 days,” he says. Final format to the auto throttle and other systems will ease concerns. “These are things that are built into the aircraft but we don't have certification yet,” Raburn says.

Another boost is FAA approval for flight into known icing. “Yet another thing people predicted we would never do,” he says. Eclipse announced the approval on June 25.

FARNBOROUGH 2008: latest news, blogs, images and videos

Source: Flight Daily News