With Eclipse Aviation facing Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation -- a court hearing is set for today, March 4 -- and all operations closed, owners of the little jets are left with plenty of questions, and the FAA attempted this week to answer some of those most frequently asked. Question number one, naturally, was this: Can I still fly my Eclipse EA500 airplane? The answer, says the FAA, is yes, as long as the aircraft is in an airworthy condition in accordance with 14 CFR Part 91. "Contrary to media reports, the FAA has no plan to ground the EA500 airplanes," the FAA said. However, if the airplane becomes un-airworthy -- for example, if owners can't get replacement parts or approved repairs -- then pilots can't legally fly. The FAA noted that the EA500s with IS&S cockpit displays require a navigation database that must be updated by Eclipse every 29 days, and since this update is not available, the types of approaches that the pilots can make with these airplanes may be limited. The airplanes with Avidyne displays may be updated through other sources, the FAA said.
Spare parts are not available from Eclipse, but owners can get some parts directly from suppliers, and the FAA said several suppliers have asked about getting approved to sell parts directly to owners. "Be aware," warned the FAA, "that there may be interface issues that only Eclipse can address." The FAA also issued a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin to ask the owners and operators of Eclipse jets to inform the FAA of any unsafe condition involving the airplane.
Meanwhile, New Eclipse Acquisition is moving forward with a plan to acquire the company's assets, provide support for current owners, and restart production. Click here for AVweb's exclusive interview with Phil Friedman, who is leading that effort. Also, Bill Herp, CEO of Linear Air, based in Bedford, Mass., has formed a co-operative owners group with the aim of obtaining the EA500 type certificate to help keep the current fleet flying economically.