In the continuing response to a June 5 incident that left an Eclipse 500 flying over Chicago Midway with its throttles wide-open and unresponsive, Eclipse sent a service bulletin Thursday to explain how operators should comply with a new airworthiness directive from the FAA that clarifies mandatory inspections of the 500's throttle quadrant assembly. The aircraft involved in the incident ultimately landed safely, but not after exposing an unsafe condition attainable in flying the aircraft. Thursday's AD replaces a prior emergency AD issued by the FAA on June 12 and reflects Eclipse's development of an FAA-approved test/modification procedure. The new AD mandates the actions of Eclipse's service bulletin. Eclipse says it will prevent the unresponsive throttle condition via a "simple software update to all Eclipse 500" aircraft. The company is currently working with its suppliers to establish an implementation schedule for the software update for which it expects to achieve FAA certification early in the Q4 of this year.
The throttle issue is one of several recent challenges faced by the company, which include an investigation by the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General to review a complaint that the FAA certified the Eclipse E500 jet "despite safety concerns raised by the engineers and test pilots," as reported by USA Today; the replacement of company founder Vern Raburn with acting CEO Roel Pieper; and refund concerns from an unknown number of position holders who balked at the latest ($500,000) price increase of the Eclipse 500.