Eclipse chief Vern Raburn has told Flight International that the company has linked excessive landing speed to a rash of "blown tyres" on its Eclipse 500 very light jet. "It's the single biggest problem in operations," he says. Enabling the forensics is Eclipse's flight operations quality assurance programme, the first US Federal Aviation Administration-approved programme by an aircraft manufacturer.
Raburn says the company analysed speed, accelerometer and position data from more than 4,000 landings and found some "really grossly improper" piloting techniques in terms of landing speed, particularly from the ranks of turbine pilots experienced in heavier, swept-wing jets.
While adding a safety buffer of 10kt (18.5km/h) to the approach speeds may be appropriate for those aircraft, Raburn says the additional energy causes the Eclipse, due to its straight wing and nearness to the ground, to "float too far down the runway". Since the VLJ does not have an anti-skid system (brakes are manual as there is no hydraulic system), pilots were then locking the wheels and skidding in an attempt to stop in the remaining distance.
A separate life problem with the aircraft's Michelin tyres is also being addressed. Raburn says tyres on average have to be replaced after 100 landings, rather than 500, as called out in the tyre specification. The solution is a new Michelin bias-ply design that will replace the aircraft's radial tyres.