Wings Magazine

Eclipse Aviation Brings Airline-Quality Safety Program to General

Oct. 31, 2007, Albuquerque, NM - Eclipse Aviation today announced that it has received approval of its Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) program from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

October 31, 2007  By Carey Fredericks

Oct. 31, 2007, Albuquerque, NM – Eclipse Aviation  today announced that it has
received approval of its Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA –
pronounced foh-qwah) program from the Federal Aviation Administration

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.

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
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."


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