By Michael J. Sniffen
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Federal regulators have ordered the immediate inspection of throttles on small personal jets manufactured by Eclipse Aviation after one plane made an emergency landing in Chicago on June 5.
In response to an urgent recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order late Thursday requiring owners to inspect all Eclipse 500 throttles and replace malfunctioning ones before each plane is flown again. The order also requires that operators immediately insert new emergency procedures for dual engine-control failure into the aircraft's flight manual.
The FAA said the Chicago incident showed that the throttles for the 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.
Eclipse, based in Albuquerque, said in a statement yesterday that it had informed all its customers and Eclipse 500 operators about the Chicago event "in advance of the premature National Transportation Safety Board's recommendation." By yesterday morning, "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 added. It said private owners of the plane would be able to complete the inspection in less than 10 minutes.
"We are cooperating fully with the FAA investigation and have communicated everything we know and have learned about this situation to our Eclipse 500 customers and operators," said Vern Raburn, Eclipse's president and chief executive.
Linear Air, the leading air taxi service in the Northeast, didn't cancel any flights yesterday. Linear has an Eclipse 500 stationed at Manassas Regional Airport.
The company said it learned of the inspections at 8 a.m. and completed the FAA requirements on all four of its Eclipse "very light jets" in three hours.
"It was quick and simple for us to put the additional pages into the aircraft flight manuals and do the simple test of the throttles," said William Herp, Linear's chief executive.
Staff writer Kendra Marr contributed to this report.