June 13, 2008
By Thomas B Haines
The FAA has issued an airworthiness directive for the Eclipse 500 jet after an emergency landing at Chicago’s Midway Airport on June 5.
The two pilots and two passengers on board were not injured in the incident, and the airplane was not damaged.
According to the FAA, the pilot slammed the thrust levers of the twin jet to the maximum during a balked landing attempt in wind shear. Apparently the force of the movement exceeded the design limits of the thrust lever switches associated with the engine control system.
In its failure mode, the full-authority digital engine control system defaulted, as it was designed to do, to the last known thrust setting—full thrust for both engines. However, because of the fault, the pilot could not further manage the thrust. In preparation for the subsequent landing, the pilot shut down one engine, which, for an unknown reason, caused the second engine to roll back to idle thrust.
Before the next flight, the AD requires a pilot to conduct a one-time 10-minute inspection of the thrust controls to assure that they behave normally. In addition, Eclipse has already supplied owners two temporary aircraft flight manual supplements and quick reference handbooks changes while the NTSB investigation into the incident continues. The changes caution pilots against slamming the thrust levers with excessive force and provide new procedures for dealing with dual engine control failures.
AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines joined AOPA in 1988. He owns and flies a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza. Since soloing at 16 and earning a private pilot certificate at 17, he has flown more than 100 models of general aviation airplanes.
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