As the first Eclipse 500 customer delivery drew near, the company issued three Customer Technical Communications revealing several problems and their solutions.
Typically of Eclipse, the issues were presented in a straightforward manner. They are not expected to hamper initial deliveries by much, if at all, said Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn. Eclipse still expected to deliver four to six airplanes this month, as this issue went to press.
The customer documents deal with a wing attachment bushing on preproduction airplanes, premature windshield and cockpit side-window cracking, and apparent confusion about c.g. at maximum takeoff weight.
In addition, modifications to meet speed and range goals will be made to control surface hinge covers, rudder and elevator surfaces, engine pylons and nacelles, and wheel covers. Adjustments to the FADEC system will allow more thrust at cruise altitudes.The first CTC explained that a loose bushing had been found on a wing attachment fitting while a flight test airplane was being modified for larger tip tanks. “The bushing was not installed correctly,” said Kenneth McNamara, vice president for customer care, but no evidence of the problem has shown up on production aircraft, he said, adding that Eclipse has modified the installation process to make sure the problem doesn’t recur on the assembly line.A windshield and cockpit window cracking problem will affect operation of customer airplanes until modified windows come from the supplier, McNamara acknowledged. Flight test aircraft have experienced cracking “due to a combination of thermal and pressurization loads causing fatigue failure of the outside layer of acrylic. The ‘fail-safe’ interior layer of acrylic was undamaged in all cases,” he said.
Until new cockpit glass is installed, windshields must be inspected every 50 flights and replaced every 100 flights. Cockpit side windows have the same inspection interval but have to be replaced every 250 flights. While there is no real safety issue, the inspection and replacement requirement is a precaution to be sure none arise before design changes can be made, McNamara said.The third CTC clarifies what Eclipse terms a “general misunderstanding of the Eclipse 500 center-of-gravity envelope listed on the FAA Type Certificate Data Sheet.” Confusion apparently arose due to differences between c.g. requirements with the original seven gallon tip tanks and the new 16.5 gallon tanks. The CTC includes a chart showing the c.g. envelope and how various loads affect the c.g.
Official NBAA IFR range with the original tip tanks is 1,055 nm, which becomes 1,125 nm with the larger tanks. The new tanks increase maximum takeoff weight to 5,920 pounds and fuel capacity to 243 gallons.
Eclipse will make the modifications to aircraft delivered without them at its own expense, McNamara said.