The FAA's regulatory oversight of the Eclipse program has culminated into four significant events:
Provisional TC, the July 2006 Oshkosh Event - Most would agree this was largely a ceremonial event of little significance other than to give the Administrator some high visibility in the General Aviation arena and perhaps Eclipse a milestone to trigger additional funding. A previous post made the case this award was likely initiated from the top down, an "Executive Type Certificate." We know what happened and when, we don't know who was pushing the buttons or why?
Full certification, September 30, 2006 - The grievance filed by engineers and test pilots first tasked to qualify the airplane (www.eclipsecritic.net) puts a bit of a dark cloud over this award. Adjudication of the grievance is pending. Again we know the what and when, we don't know the who or the why this award was put on a no-fault path.
DayJet C of A's, March 31, 2007 - After the reported sacking of one team of FAA inspectors and replacing them with another (better described in the Git-R-Done post), three Certificates of Airworthiness were suddenly awarded allowing Eclipse to deliver the airplanes to the upstart charter operation and the company's biggest customer, DayJet. Hopefully, one day more specifics will be forthcoming especially as relates to an alleged written agreement between the FAA and the company to not further look under floorboards or open access panels. Also it would be nice to learn who and why anybody would encourage this transgression.
PC, April 26, 2007 - A source close to the activities in ABQ e-mailed the following after the PC was issued:
"I am confident now that the planes that rolled out in the last few days are safe."
"Eclipse got their PC today, and, while Eclipse still has a long way to go to be able to gear up production, I am confident that the airplanes being produced under PC will be satisfactory."
"FAA is still inspecting extensively, but the company DOES have significant plans in place to be able to pick up more and more responsibility from FAA."
"The ODAR Airworthiness Reps have been more or less stopped from doing most of the inspection work, and outside DARs and FAA ASI's are taking primary action right now, while the AR's are re-trained, and the company begins making the inspections at the proper points in the process."
This is good news for everyone. It may be an indication our civil aviation institution has not broken down and that we can all have faith in the airplanes we build and the airplanes we fly.