NTSB Lauds FAA's Quick Action on Eclipse 500 Throttle Problem

The Small Airplane Directorate of FAA's Aircraft Certification Service issued an Airworthiness Directive on Thursday regarding an unsafe condition with the Eclipse 500, a new, small plane with about 200 models delivered thus far, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, which called for the emergency action and praised FAA's quick response. The AD followed a successful June 5 landing of an Eclipse 500 carrying two pilots and two passengers to Chicago's Midway Airport where the pilot applied full throttle because of a windshear during final approach. This exceeded the design throttle position signal maximum range, and the pilot chose shut down one engine, only to find the other engine's thrust was reduced to idel and would not respond to throttle lever movement.

The AD requires that revisions of emergency and normal operating procedures be added to the planes' flight manuals and that a pilot evaluate the throttles before further flights. If any anomaly is found, the throttle quadrant assembly must be replaced and the evaluation conducted again; an anomaly or Engine Control crew alerting system message at that point must be reported to FAA.

"The quick FAA response to the urgent recommendations we issued could save lives," said Mark Rosenker, NTSB's chairman. "Additionally, the NTSB is looking forward to reviewing the results of the FAA-required inspections of these aircraft." Next week, the FAA and Eclipse will be conducting further evaluations and tests on the throttle quadrant from the plane involved in the Midway landing.

"The Eclipse 500 is still a new aircraft model," Rosenker said before FAA's action, adding, "This incident demonstrated a technical safety-of-flight issue that we believe needs immediate attention."

NTSB said the June 5 failure of both throttle levers occurred after the airplane had accumulated only 238 hours and 192 cycles since new. The board said it is "concerned about the reliability of an assembly that fails in such a short time. Furthermore, when the failed throttle quadrant assembly was replaced on the accident airplane, pushing the throttle levers on the replacement unit against maximum power stops caused an R ENG CONTROL FAIL message to appear on the crew alerting system display."

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