"SUMMARY: The FAA is adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Harco Labs, Inc. part numbers 100435-39, 100435-39-001, 100435-40, and 100435-40-001 pitot/angle of attack (AOA) probes installed on, but not limited to Eclipse Aviation Inc. Model EA500 airplanes. This AD requires you to incorporate information into the Limitations section of the airplane flight manual (AFM) that will allow operation only under day visual flight rules (VFR) and allow only a VFR flight plan. This AD also requires you to test the pitot/AOA probes for heater performance and replace the pitot/AOA probe if it fails the heater performance test. This AD results from several reports of airspeed disagree caution indication due to blockage from freezing condensation within the pitot/AOA system. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct improperly performing pitot/AOA probe heaters, which could result in blockage within the pitot/AOA system from condensation freezing with consequent incorrect indication of impact air pressure (airspeed/AOA). This blockage could lead to the stall warning becoming unreliable and the stick pusher, overspeed warning, autopilot, and yaw damper to malfunction."
Ooops, not ANOTHER one. Between the previous AD's, the SDR's, which prompted the FAA's own SCR and the numerous reports of false CAS messages, PFD's going blank, burst tires, stuck throttles and the rest I'm beginning to wonder how much longer this show will go on.
There is another serious issue 'lurking' in the elevator trim actuators and/or control software. I have reports of at least three separate instances where these failures resulted in 'unscheduled' landings, one of which involved a declaration by the pilots of an emergency. EAC have told the FAA that they are 'changing supplier' of these parts, but I've also been told that the 'new' parts are proving unreliable in the field. Another example of 'disruptive technology'...
I don't know about you, but I'm kinda losing track of the limitations of the FPJ. They seem to have been one of the contributing factors in the effective demise of DayJet. Herewith a quote from their press release announcing the cessation of operations:-
"This shutdown is a direct consequence of the company’s inability to arrange critical financing in the midst of the current global financial crisis. The company’s operations have also suffered as a result of Eclipse Aviation’s failure to install missing equipment or functionality or repair agreed technical discrepancies in accordance with the terms of DayJet’s aircraft purchase contract."
That's pretty black and white in laying the blame at EAC's door. Yes, their funding was suspect, but they were not helped by the limitations imposed on operations by 'missing equipment'. Sure makes you wonder who will buy the 28 FPJ's lined up outside the EAC shop at Gainsville FL.
And another thing. Chad Trautvetter at Aviation International News reports that UBS, the bank charged by Roel Pieper CEO at EAC with finding "$200 million" in funding is reporting a '30%' decline in the biz av market. That will make it real easy for UBS to pitch the idea to prospective investors won't it? I'm sure they will put this information front and center with any client who expresses an interest. Matt Thurber, also at AIN, has provided a valuable report on the DOT IG hearings. These two excellent aviation journalists have 'bookended' the challenges facing Roel Pieper right now.
Those depositors/position holders who requested a refund are between a rock and a hard place. I've maintained contact with a number of them since they were 'officially' notified that they were not getting any money until/if the new funding mentioned above became available. EAC have played 'hardball' with these people, making it quite clear that any attempt to force repayment could result in bankruptcy for EAC and result in the loss of their deposits/progress payments. Despite these warnings, at least one has proceeded into court, where the outcome is awaited with interest in many places.
Several reports reach me from reliable sources that the 'brain drain' continues at the factory. The remaining aviation professionals are leaving as soon as alternative employment becomes available. Almost 20% of middle managers took advantage of a company offer of two months salary to leave on or before Friday last. Not a great offer, but better than nothing, which is what those left behind appear to be heading for. Seems the only business booming in ABQ these days is aviation headhunters hiring hotel rooms to hold interviews....
It's coming up to 9 months since this blog, the 'NG' version of Stan's original, kicked off. In that time, 48 headline posts (including this one) have generated almost 10,000 comments. A Google search for 'Eclipse Aviation' lists this site second only to the EAC home page. Suppliers, customers, staff and 'interested parties' are in regular contact via email or on the phone. Journalists, industry watchers and aviation professionals are regular readers and sometime contributors. We've even had a headline post from the self describe 'Cardinal', Ken Meyer who is an FPJ owner and leader of the fan club for EAC.
Not bad for a specialist blog, I think you'll agree. Let's all try to keep it relevant, focused and most important, moving forward. EAC always wanted to be leaders in disruptive technology. I pretty sure 'we' were not part of their vision!
Wherever you read this, enjoy your work, play as hard as possible and cherish time with friends and family.