Eclipse Aviation Brings Airline-Quality Safety Program to General Aviation
Company establishes first FAA-approved aircraft manufacturer FOQA program
ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- October 31, 2007 -- Eclipse Aviation, manufacturer of the world's first very light jet (VLJ), today announced that it has received approval of its Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA - pronounced foh-qwah) program from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Eclipse Aviation is the only aircraft manufacturer that has received FAA approval for a FOQA program that includes flight data monitoring capability consistent with the advanced programs used by commercial airline operations (FAR Part 121), the safest demonstrated flight operations in the world.Until now, FOQA was implemented only within resource-rich commercial airlines, and was largely unheard of in the general aviation and small corporate-fleet world. Eclipse's FOQA program is breaking new ground, and is largely enabled by the next-generation integrated avionics and data collection systems designed for and incorporated in the Eclipse 500 very light jet. "
At Eclipse, challenging general aviation norms and going beyond what's expected is a daily imperative," said Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse Aviation. "This FAA-approved FOQA program reflects our commitment to live up to these ideals by introducing a world-class flight operation strategy to general aviation that will deliver airline-quality safety to our customers. FOQA is a perfect addition to our progressive safety management system (SMS), which gives us the tools to proactively ensure the highest level of safety across all Eclipse 500 operations."
FOQA, used by most major airlines around the world, employs sophisticated software to capture and analyze recorded flight data. The information gathered by this system is used to proactively identify, assess and correct high-risk operating conditions before they cause an accident. FOQA programs are frequently cited as contributing to the impressive safety record of U.S. airlines over the past decade. FOQA initiatives have been used to identify and improve everything from deficiencies in pilot training programs, manuals and processes, to aircraft design issues and hazardous air traffic control procedures.
Eclipse Safety Management System (SMS)Consistent with the internationally-endorsed SMS philosophy, Eclipse has built a SMS that does not treat aviation safety risk management as the responsibility of a reactive independent group, but rather as an all-encompassing proactive safety culture. Instead of waiting for hazards to be identified through accidents, Eclipse's SMS creates a process and culture for pinpointing risks so they can be managed in advance of an incident or accident. FOQA is central to this process, using objective flight data and powerful software that allows Eclipse to understand what is actually happening with the Eclipse 500 in the field. Eclipse is currently developing a complementary program, called the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), which will provide insight into why events are happening. Through ASAP, Eclipse 500 pilots will voluntarily identify and report on issues encountered while operating their aircraft. This system will correlate this subjective information with objective FOQA data, creating a comprehensive awareness of hazards and risks never before achieved by an aircraft manufacturer.
FOQA is the cornerstone for identifying, assessing and analyzing flight-related hazards within the Eclipse 500 fleet. A key enabler of this technology is the Eclipse 500's highly-integrated avionics design, Avio NG, which allows Eclipse to capture virtually everything that happens when an aircraft is operated. Once this data is collected, it is processed by sophisticated software created by Austin Digital, Inc., an industry leader in airline FOQA analysis systems. This software uses complex algorithms to continuously churn through thousands of hours of flight data, while highlighting and reporting abnormal events and trends across the fleet. This enables Eclipse to investigate and determine root causes, develop strategies to mitigate risks, and implement corrective actions. Finally, the FOQA system provides a mechanism to monitor and adjust the effectiveness of corrective actions, thus closing the loop on the process to ensure optimal operational safety."
FOQA programs are not new, but are today considered state-of-the-art in the airline industry," said Eclipse Aviation's Manager of Flight Safety Chris Solan. "Our program is revolutionary because as a general aviation aircraft manufacturer we are essentially taking on the role and responsibilities of a sophisticated airline, aggregating large amounts of data so systemic trends can be easily identified. When this trend data is combined with our Eclipse 500 aircraft design knowledge, pilot and maintenance training program oversight, aircraft manual and procedure authorship and tight-knit FAA working relationship - we can bring a tremendous improvement in safety to our customers, particularly individual or small-fleet operators."
Thanks to eclipseobserver for the update.