Eclipse 500 VMC Only For Now
According to Eclipse Aviation President and CEO Vern Raburn, the Eclipse 500 fleet (five customer and five test airplanes) has been temporarily restricted to only visual meteorological conditions flight operations after a teething problem was found with the very light jet's pitot/static system. In a letter to customers sent Monday night, Raburn outlined the problem: "Eclipse 500 aircraft have experienced three in-flight events in which pitot pressure was lost on both left and right primary air data sources, resulting in the loss of airspeed indications on the Primary Flight Displays (PFDs). The standby airspeed indication was not affected, and continued to function properly." Since all aircraft regained the function of both air data systems when at warmer temperatures, Eclipse believes the problem lies in internal condensation, due to departures from high-humidity environments, collecting and freezing in -- and thus blocking -- the pitot tubing. The start-up manufacturer plans to modify the pitot-heat system to increase the temperature and work to mitigate moisture collection in the tubing. Raburn didn't say when the fix would be ready, but he did promise an update in two weeks. In an accompanying customer letter, Raburn gave another update on the overall Eclipse 500 program. He noted that the five VLJs delivered to date was below Eclipse's goal, though he expressed optimism that deliveries will accelerate by the end of June, with seven Eclipse 500s in the FAA inspection pipeline. All's well on the Avio NG front, Raburn says, and a testbed has begun using "production configuration hardware and software to validate functionality and systems integration." Meanwhile, Raburn said the company will soon have "major news" to announce regarding a new flight-training vendor.