By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
Eclipse jets should soon be able to fly as high as Flight Level 410, as originally intended, Eclipse Aerospace said this week. Currently, the FAA restricts the fleet to FL 370, but since taking over the EA500 twin-engine personal jet design just over a year ago, the new Eclipse Aerospace Inc. has been working to upgrade the fleet. EAI said it has designed a modification for the EA500 to dissipate potential precipitation static, using a maintenance-free thin carbon strip that is bonded across the windshield and the aircraft structure. "This new diverter strip replaces the previous chemical-based application, which was hard to apply and difficult to maintain," said Ken Ross, president of the company's service and support division.
EAI said it is in the process of testing the design modifications and expects final certification from the FAA before the end of the year. With the modifications installed, the EA500 will be certified to return to a service ceiling of 41,000 feet, the company said. Mason Holland, CEO of EAI, said the windshield upgrade and return to 41,000 feet were the most difficult challenges the new company had to overcome in its upgrade program. "By completing these projects we are officially announcing that the initial commitments to our existing customers have been met," he said.