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New FAA Amateur-Built Aircraft Certification Policy Released

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Joe Norris
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#1 Posted: 10/8/2009 09:57:10

The FAA has finally released their updated policy and procedures for certification of amateur-built aircraft.  The revised FAA Order 8130.2F and the new advisory circular AC 20-27G are now published.

See the EAA story for all the info.  Don't miss the link to the radio interview at the bottom of the story.



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Dave Prizio
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#2 Posted: 10/8/2009 17:57:50

The new 51% rule and AC 20-27G don't seem to hold too many surprises.  In fact the biggest surprise seems to be that they came out as good as they did, considering where we were at one point in the process.

A few things are worth noting. Kits that were on the old approved list, and thus grandfathered in, will be "ungrandfathered" if the builder used ANY commercial assistance.  This means that they must be evaluated under the new guidelines.  The effect of this will vary from one builder to the next, but not being able to use the old Form 8000-38 may have negative consequences for some builders.

As expected projects like the rebuilt Republic Seabees with Chevy engines will definitely not be eligible for amateur built certification.

Kits like the RV-12 that have virtually no fabrication will apparently not be eligible for experimental amateur built certification and must remain E-LSA. This will undoubtedly disappoint some people who had hoped to customize their RV-12s.

Record keeping and progress inspections by Tech Counselors and/or A&Ps have been emphasized, which is a good thing, but may cause some heartburn for people who have been building for a long time with sloppy records and suddenly find themselves subject to the new rules.

Implementing the new checklist in Appendix 8 (AC 20-27G) might get pretty complicated as DARs and builders debate about tenths of points in the many categories of the construction process, especially if amateur built status is a close call. Luckily builders who just build a preapproved kit as purchased won't have to do this. But it could have a chilling effect on the use of commercial assistance, or on the honesty of builders who use it.

Whether this is progress or just added complication remains to be seen.  As the saying goes, time will tell.



Reggie Smalls
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#3 Posted: 10/8/2009 19:14:18

Thanks for the analysis of the key points, Dave.



Lee Leland
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#4 Posted: 10/8/2009 19:33:11

I'm still a newbie at this, but my question is- is there another certification or class a "homebuilt" would fit in, if it failed to qualify under the new 51% ruling?



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Joe Norris
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#5 Posted: 10/9/2009 09:54:31
Dave Prizio wrote:

like the RV-12 that have virtually no fabrication will apparently not be eligible for experimental amateur built certification and must remain E-LSA. This will undoubtedly disappoint some people who had hoped to customize their RV-12s.

Dave,

Don't forget that the owner of an ELSA RV-12 can modify/customize to their heart's content AFTER the airworthiness certificate is issued (so long as they stay within the LSA definition).  The aircraft only has to meet Van's specifications at the time of its initial certification.  Once the airworthiness certificate is issued the aircraft can be treated like any other experimental aircraft (again, so long as it stays within the LSA definition). 

Yes, this does add the extra step of getting the aircraft certificated in its "stock" form first, but at least the owners are not completely locked in.

Cheers!

Joe



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Joe Norris
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#6 Posted: 10/9/2009 14:24:23
Graydon Leland wrote:

is there another certification or class a "homebuilt" would fit in, if it failed to qualify under the new 51% ruling?

 

Graydon,

The answer to your question is "maybe".  The only other possible option would be Experimental Exhibition, but the certification purpose for this category is "exhibition".  There is a sub-set for "air racing".  But if the aircraft in question isn't really intended for "exhibition" it would not qualify for this certification.

What's an exhibition aircraft?  Well, for example, a Pitts, which would be intended to exhibit its performance in airshows or aerobatic competitions.  A glider might be intended to exhibit its performance in sailplane competitions.  Air racers are just that.  Other aircraft that fit this category are ex-military aircraft that are exhibited for historical purposes.  I'm sure you get the idea.

As you can see, there could be a fair number of homebuilt designs that would not be intended for any type of exhibition, and thus would not qualify for an Experimental Exhibition airworthiness certificate.  In these cases there is not another category to turn to, so if it doesn't meet amateur-built it's pretty much out of luck.

Bottom line, be careful to make sure you meet the major portion requirements for amateur-built certification!!

Joe



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Jeff Point
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#7 Posted: 10/10/2009 03:25:44
Dave Prizio wrote:

 

But it could have a chilling effect on the use of commercial assistance, or on the honesty of builders who use it.

Whether this is progress or just added complication remains to be seen.  As the saying goes, time will tell.

We can only hope so!  The abuse of "commercial assistance" by a small minority of builders is what got us on the FAA's radar screen in the first place.  Let's all be thankful that cooler heads prevailed, and the final rule has very little negative impact on the true homebuilder, while throwing a bucket of cold water on those who would circumvent the intent of the regulations and jeopardize our freedoms as amateur builders.



Reggie Smalls
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#8 Posted: 10/10/2009 09:07:59

Well said Jeff, my feelings exactly.



Scott Fohrman
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#9 Posted: 10/11/2009 18:14:47 Modified: 10/12/2009 05:40:29

deleted by author

 

 



Jeff Point
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#10 Posted: 10/12/2009 03:57:02

Scott,

That's quite a rant, and I for one can appreciate a good rant as well as the next guy!  I feel you when you talk about the seeming contradiction in the regs, in that something that would arguably make experimental aviation safer (commercial help) is not allowed.  However, as John Hickey put it so succinctly, it is not strictly about safety.  If the FAA wanted to mandate safety in experimental aviation, it could do so quite easily- by simply outlawing it.  The effect would be extreme safety, but that is not really what we are after here.

The reason that this is a victory for us is that the balance between safety and freedom has not been tilted too far to the side of safety.  The idea that the original wording is somehow out of date is hogwash.   The "51% Rule," like the Constitution and the Bible, is just as relevant now as when it was first written.   It allows us today, as it did then, to build aircraft for our own "education and recreation" as a non-commercial endeavor, without conforming to the myriad and $$$ FAA regulations that are forced upon the manufacturers of aircraft.

Your assertion that commercial assistance was somehow "allowed" for the last 50 years also misses the point.  It was never allowed, but in some cases it was overlooked, out of bureaucratic necessity.  Just as your local police cannot and should not be out to stop and ticket everyone who drives 1 MPH over the speed limit, the FAA had and has bigger fish to fry than the small minority of homebuilders who skirted the intent of the regs to produce experimental- amateur built aircraft as a commercial endeavor. 

However, human nature is to keep pushing the envelope, and companies like Epic and Two Weeks to Taxi did just that, pushing the letter and spirit of the law to the point where the FAA had no choice but to step in.  Sure, the increasing size of the fleet had a lot to do with that, but if every one of the 30,000+ homebuilts in the FAA registry were legitimately built in 30,000+ garages by true homebuilders, this issue would not have been forced to the surface, and we would not be having this conversation now.



Joe Norris
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#11 Posted: 10/12/2009 09:10:31

Excellent response Jeff.  Very nicely said.  Should be required reading!

Thanks!!

Joe



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Scott Fohrman
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#12 Posted: 10/12/2009 17:45:44

Joe

On a slightly different, yet related  subject Jim Kane retired Friday. Might want to give him a shout as is a bit freeer (if free er is in fact a word) to have an opinion now and would probably be a great asset for you guys as things "progress" on this front.  

 



Joe Norris
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#13 Posted: 10/13/2009 09:56:25

Scott,

Jim Kane was my FAA supervisor for the last few years (I'm a DAR).  I chat with him on a regular basis.  He's a good guy!!

Cheers!

Joe



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Joanne Palmer
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#14 Posted: 10/13/2009 17:10:29


angryMy initial response to this new rule was "What about the 'Factory Assist'  programs?"  In theory, this counts as Commercial Assistance which then precludes having a "grandfathered" kit.  At least for Lancair Kits, the first week of factory asist primarily precludes building the jugs and fixtures and gives you the education necessary to build it right.  It seems like this new rule imposes a severe penalty for this education? 



Dan Scukanec
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#15 Posted: 10/15/2009 21:38:13

After looking at the new builders checklist I have some questions regarding the breakdown of the tasks. 

I have never built a plans or kit aircraft and have been on the fence waiting for the new regulations to hit the street. 

OK you can now divide each task into 10 parts and divide that point in 4 different columns.  Approximately 50% of the tasks are now "fabricate" tasks and we now have a definition of fabricate which includes deburring, drilling, countersinking, etc.

 

Consider task F3 for example "fabricate bulkheads or cross members" under the fuselage section. 

 

How much of that point is assigned to say Vans aircraft for stamping /forming/drilling at the factory versus what I do to each part that would fall under the fabricate definition? And what is the basis for that division, time spent on the task, number of holes deburred, swag?

 

I don't have a clue and I wonder if anyone else that was on the ARC or has been closely involved with the revision of the cechklist has some additional information on this. 

 

I have not completed reading the entire AC yet, but I have not found any clarification so far.  I think their is a big potential for large differences of opinion on this issue when the DAR arrives to inspect the aircraft and determine if it meets the 51% rule.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Dan Scukanec

 



Joanne Palmer
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#16 Posted: 10/16/2009 11:13:03

The most liberal determination is that if you finished the part fabrication to make it "ready to assemble" then you could claim 100% for that part.  Now... the FAA will likely make a different determination, but it is arguable that if the "part" cannot be assembled in its delivered state, then anything you do to make it ready to assemble is the fabrication of that part. 

 

 



Dave Prizio
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#17 Posted: 10/16/2009 12:45:07

I think the guidance we need to answer Dan's question will come from the National Kit Evaluation Team (NKET).  They will fill out a form such as we see in AC 20-27G Appendix 8 for each kit.  These forms will then be available for us to look at on line.  From that it should be pretty clear how they are splitting up tasks between manufacturer and builder.  It all seems pretty subjective, but at least with one NKET there should be some consistency to the process.

Hopefully the NKET it already hard at work evaluating kits, so we don't have to wait too long for the answer.



Mike Evans
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#18 Posted: 7/17/2010 20:51:49

Hi,

I'm having trouble finding the 'perfect' venue to place my question:

My question is about a requirement to have a kit manufacturer's receipt in order to obtain an airworthiness certificate.  I recently listened to the webinar "The liability of selling your homebuilt" here at EAA.ORG.  Very interesting, especially the part where the attorney shares that a builder has never been successfully sued upon selling his homebuilt. 

However, just about 1 hr into the webinar, he dropped a 'bomb' on my plans when he mentioned that I must be able to present a receipt for the kit (not so plans built a/c) from the manufacturer in order to obtain an airworthiness certificate.  I am about the 5th owner of a kit made by Quickie aircraft corp., which went out of business about 1983.  I don't even have any pictures or logs of the construction (no repairman's certificate for me!).  I bought it with an essentially complete airframe - I only need to add the engine and panel basically.  This aircraft appears to have never flown or even had an N number.  Also, I don't have a QAC serial number either.

However, if I understand the webinar correctly, I now have a candidate for the junkyard in my garage!  I hope I missed some important point.

 

Mike Evans, Los Angeles, CA  Tri-Q200




Dave Prizio
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#19 Posted: 7/19/2010 16:03:40

We are kind of off topic here, but to address your concerns, the lack of proof that the plane was amateur built is probably at least as big a problem as the absence of a receipt from Quickie. You must be able to prove to the FAA that you rightfully own the plane, AND you must be able to prove to the FAA thru a local DAR that the plane was amateur built. The FAA has accepted letters in lieu of receipts for kits from bankrupt companies in the past, but the lack of a builder log from the previous builders makes it pretty hard to prove to anyone that the plane was amateur built.

I would set up a meeting with a local DAR. (I can refer you to someone if you need help with that) Talk to him about your situation and see what he is going to need to establich the project's amateur built status.  I would also suggest you contact the local FSDO and see what they are going to want to prove ownership of the kit. Hopefully you at least got a receipt from the guy you bought it from and saved his contact info. If the seller you bought from will sign an FAA bill of sale form you may be able to use that, but honestly your proof of ownership problem is well beyond my level of expertise.

With no bill of sale and no builder log you have a collection of parts that can not be registered as an airplane. Hopefully you can scrape together enough documentation to save the situation. Best of luck with all of that. PM me if you want to contact info for a DAR in the Los Angeles area.

Dave Prizio