Eclipse Gets FAA Approval; Questions Raised About Earlier Certification

The certificate would speed up the manufacturing process to one plane off the assembly line every day by this summer and eventually three a day.

"We have never asked anyone to pressure the FAA," Eclipse spokesman Andrew Broom said Thursday.

Representatives for Gov. Bill Richardson and several members of the state's congressional delegation said they had not applied any pressure.

As he has previously, Broom said the blog is a result of heated competition between older, established aircraft manufacturers and upstarts like Eclipse.

Longs hours for FAA

FAA representatives have worked long hours, frequently on weekends, alongside Eclipse engineers to solve problems with the Eclipse 500. The FAA has also made some concessions, such as giving Eclipse an early "provisional-type" certification, which gave the company a schedule to complete a few fixes.

In addition, the FAA agreed to work with Eclipse on future adaptations to its certification as it makes adjustments to the plane, such as adding new wingtip fuel tanks and a reworked avionics system, later this year. The provisional-type certification last summer allowed Eclipse to tap into $225 million in investments in the startup company. Eclipse's Billson said the FAA worked hard on the project because of its mission - the commercialization and safety of air travel. "The very light jet movement, and especialy the Eclipse 500, represents an expansion of the commercialization of air travel," Billson said. "They've been terrific helping us realize this dream."

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