The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the agency of the United States Department of Transportation with authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the country, has ordered immediate inspection of throttles on small personal jets manufactured by Eclipse Aviation after one Eclipse 500 plane made an emergency landing at Chicago’s Midway International Airport on June 5, 2008. (The Eclipse 500 is a small, 6-seat business jet aircraft manufactured by Eclipse Aviation. It is the second of a new class of business jets called very light jets (VLJ), following the delivery of the first VLJ, the Cessna Citation Mustang in late 2006. The Eclipse 500 is powered by two lightweight Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F turbofan engines in tail-mounted nacelles.)
It was in response to an urgent recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that he the Federal Aviation Administration issued the airworthiness directive (AD), an emergency order, requiring owners to inspect throttles of all Eclipse 500 planes and to replace malfunctioning throttles before each plane is flown again.
The FAA order also required that operators of Eclipse 500 plane immediately insert new emergency procedures for dual engine-control failure into the aircraft’s flight manual.
According to the FAA, the incident at Chicago on June 5, 2008, “showed that the throttles for the Eclipse 500 plane’s two engines could remain stuck at full power if pushed forward with enough force, depriving the pilot of the ability to control the plane’s speed,’ the website washingtonpost.com has reported.
Meanwhile, a statement from Eclipse Aviation, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the United States, said that the company had informed all its customers and operators of Eclipse 500 plane about the Chicago event “in advance of the premature National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendation.”
“All fleet operators using the Eclipse 500 already have complied with the inspection requirement, and their aircraft are in the air operating normally,” the company statement said, adding: “Private owners of the plane would be able to complete the inspection in less than 10 minutes. The isolated occurrence stems from an exceedance of certified design limits and Eclipse has instituted a procedure that deals with this condition.”
The Eclipse Aviation claims that “this is the first report of an engine-control failure on the Eclipse 500, and the first incident for an Eclipse 500 in more than 18,000 total fleet hours.”
The Eclipse Aviation statement said that, as directed by the Federal Aviation Administration, Eclipse Aviation has updated the Eclipse 500’s Aircraft Flight Manual (AFM) and Quick Reference Handbook (QRH), which provide instructions to the pilot on how to handle an event similar to that happened on June 5.
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