Experimental Amateur Built
FAA/DAR inspection of an aircraft submitted for amateur built certification will be limited to a general airworthiness inspection. During this inspection, the FAA/DAR may not request extensive disassembly of the aircraft if the amateur builder can provide documented evidence of fabrication, assembly, and in-process inspections.
The only time disassembly should be requested is when there is a lack of adequate documentation as described above, or if there is a suspected safety issue that would endanger the public.
DOCUMENTATION TO SUPPORT ELIGIBILITY FOR AMATEUR BUILT CERTIFICATION
The FAA/DAR will always make a major portion determination when an amateur-built aircraft has been presented for certification.
It is necessary for the applicant to show and the FAA/DAR to find that the aircraft complies with the requirements of FAR 21.191(g). Common documentation in support of eligibility is typically in the form of a builder’s log and substantiating photographs.
DEVIATING FROM KITS AND/OR USING COMMERCIAL ASSISTANCE
When the FAA/DAR identifies an aircraft as meeting the major portion requirement, at the time of certification, the they will review the applicant’s documentation. Deviations from the FAA-identified kit configuration or changes that would result in an increase in the amount of commercial assistance will require them to determine (before fabrication and assembly, and using Amateur-Built Aircraft Fabrication and Assembly Checklist (2009)) that the kit still meets the major portion requirement.
FAA RESPONSIBILITIES AT THE TIME OF AMATEUR BUILT CERTIFICATION
At the time of airworthiness certification, the FAA will -
- Ensure the aircraft is complete and all documentation is sufficient, credible, and adequate. If the applicant cannot provide a statement of eligibility (Form 8130-12), or the documentation is inadequate to make a major portion determination, the applicant will be advised that the aircraft cannot be certificated as an amateur-built aircraft and a denial letter will be issued.
- Examine records that the aircraft has been weighed in accordance with established weight and balance procedures to determine the aircraft’s empty, gross, and most forward and aft CG location, including the weight and balance for the initial flight tests in order to help reduce stall, spin, and other control-related accidents.
If the aircraft is self-designed, these limits would be determined by the amateur builder’s calculations. If the aircraft is constructed from a kit or built from purchased plans, relevant existing documentation is used.
If the amateur builder has made changes to a manufacturer’s kit that affect the CG, the predetermined data must be recalculated based on the change(s).
The completed weight and balance report, including load limits for flightcrew, oil, fuel, and baggage, should be available in the aircraft, along with the other applicable placards, listings, and markings required by FAR 91.9.
The FAA/DAR will obtain from the applicant the following FAA forms and documentation, and ensure they are properly executed:
- AC Form 8050-3, Certificate of Aircraft Registration (a copy or online verification of registration).
- FAA Form 8130-6, Application for Airworthiness Certificate.
- A notarized Form 8130-12 certifying that the major portion of the aircraft was fabricated and assembled by the applicant(s) for their own education or recreation purposes and that evidence exists to support this statement.
- Sufficient information to identify the aircraft, such as photographs or three-view drawings.
- As described in paragraph 151d(1), sufficient, credible, and adequate documentation to show and the FAA to find compliance with the major portion requirement.
- As described in paragraph 151c and d, documentation indicating all in-process and pre-cover inspections.
- A program letter identifying the aircraft, the purpose of the certificate, the area over which the operations are to be conducted, and the duration of the program. The program letter is based on the requirements of FAR 21.193(d).
- In addition, the applicant may be asked to submit additional information during the airworthiness inspection to assist the FAA/DAR in determining if the applicant is eligible for a repairman certificate under FAR 65.104.
FAA RECORDS REVIEW FOR AMATEUR BUILT AIRCRAFT CERTIFICATION
Completion of Form 8130-12 will not be used as the sole evidence of the applicant’s compliance with the education, recreation, and major portion requirements of FAR 21.191(g). All relevant documentation will be reviewed.
The FAA/DAR will -
- Review the documentation provided by the applicant to determine that the registration requirements of FAR 47 have been met, and ensure the aircraft is marked in accordance with FAR 45.
- Review the aircraft records to determine whether any required maintenance or inspections have been accomplished.
- Ensure there is a signed and dated statement from the owner in the aircraft records, that the aircraft has had an inspection performed in accordance with FAR 43 Appendix D, or other approved programs, and was found to be in a condition for safe operation. The inspection will help reduce errors made during construction of the aircraft.
- Verify the entries on the Amateur-Built Aircraft Fabrication and Assembly Checklist (2009) to ensure the applicant has fabricated and assembled the major portion.
FAA AIRCRAFT INSPECTION FOR AMATEUR BUILT CERTIFICATION
The FAA will arrange with the applicant to make the aircraft available for inspection to determine, at a minimum, the following:
- The ID plate meets the requirements of FAR 45.11(a), as applicable.
- The information on the ID plate matches the information on Form 8130-6 and on the original aircraft registration document AC Form 8050-3. The pink copy of Form AC 8050-1 cannot be used for original certification).
- The aircraft nationality and registration marks are in accordance with FAR 45, subpart C.
- The flight control system, engine(s), propeller(s), pitot static system, and associated instruments operate properly.
- The cockpit instruments are appropriately marked, and needed placards are installed and placed for easy reference.
- System controls (for example, fuel selector(s) and electrical switches/breakers) are appropriately placed, clearly marked, provide easy access and operation, and function as intended by the amateur builder/owner.
- An ELT is installed, if required (FAR 91.207).
- All explosive devices used in ballistic parachutes are clearly marked and identified.
AMATEUR BUILT CERTIFICATION - ISSUANCE OF CERTIFICATE
Upon satisfactory completion of the airworthiness inspection and documentation review, the FAA/DAR will issue the special airworthiness certificate and the operating limitations for that aircraft. The operating limitations will be attached tospecial airworthiness certificate.
They will review the operating limitations with the applicant to ensure a clear understanding of the limitations.
They will issue phase I and phase II operating limitations for an unlimited duration during the initial airworthiness certification. They may elect to issue phase I and phase II limitations separately only when a documented safety issue exists.
The operating limitations will be prescribed in two phases in the same document as follows:
- For the phase I limitations, operating limitations will be prescribed as appropriate for the applicant to demonstrate compliance with FAR 91.319(b) in the assigned flight test area. This includes a limitation requiring the owner/operator to endorse the aircraft logbook and maintenance records with a statement certifying that the prescribed flight hours have been completed, and the aircraft has been shown to comply with FAR 91.319(b). The owner/operator may then operate in accordance with phase II.
- For the phase II limitations, operating limitations will be prescribed, as appropriate, for the operation of an amateur-built aircraft for an unlimited duration.
- The FAA/DAR may prescribe any additional limitations in phase I or phase II deemed necessary in the interest of safety.
If the aircraft meets the requirements for the certification requested, the FAA/DAR will make an aircraft logbook and maintenance records entry, and issue the special airworthiness certificate Form 8130-7.
If the aircraft does not meet the requirements for the certification requested and the airworthiness certificate is denied, the FAA/DAR will write a letter to the applicant stating the reason(s) for denying the airworthiness certificate.
An airworthiness certificate is transferred with the aircraft, for example, if there is a change of ownership or transfer of registration.
There is no FAA inspection required after transfer of an aircraft with its airworthiness certificate, unless it isdetermined that revised operating limitations are necessary.
EXPIRED OR FOREIGN AIRWORTHINESS CERTIFICATES
In some cases, amateur-built aircraft are sold with an expired airworthiness certificate or foreign airworthiness certificate. In such cases, an applicant may request and receive a special airworthiness certificate for the purpose of operating amateur-built aircraft, only if the aircraft previously was certificated under, and continues to meet FAR 21.191(g).
In this case, a new Form 8130-7 would be issued along with new operating limitations, but without the eligibility to obtain a repairman certificate for that aircraft. The new certificate should be issued only after the FAA/DAR has verified the airworthiness of the aircraft.
SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR AMATUER BUILT CERTIFICATION
In addition to the above certification requirements, if an applicant’s aircraft is an unevaluated foreign amateur-built kit, the FAA/DAR must perform a major portion determination using the Amateur-Built Aircraft Fabrication and Assembly Checklist (2009).
If compliance to the major portion requirement of FAR 21.191(g) cannot be ascertained, a special airworthiness certificate for the purpose of operating amateur-built aircraft will not be issued.
CANADIAN APPLICANTS FOR AMATEUR BUILT CERTIFICATION
A Canadian applicant with a design for an amateur-built aircraft kit may make an application to Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) for evaluation of the kit design.
Upon receipt of the application, TCCA will review the design for compliance with the U.S. major portion requirements, and forward it to the FAA’s Airworthiness Certification Branch.
The process for FAA approval is contained in the Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness with Transport Canada.
OPERATION OF CANADIAN REGISTERED AMATEUR BUILT AIRCRAFT IN THE UNITED STATES
Canadian-registered amateur-built aircraft are issued a special certificate of airworthiness with operating limitations set by TCCA.
Operation of Canadian-registered amateur-built aircraft certified under the provisions of Canadian air regulations in the United States is permitted by the issuance of a Special Flight Authorization (SFA) under FAR 91.715. This authorization must be obtained before operation in the United States is permitted.
The authorization may be requested electronically via the FAA Web site at http://www.faa.gov.
CANADIAN AIRCRAFT AMATEUR BUILT CERTIFICATION
There are differences between Canadian and U.S. regulations and policies governing the issuance of airworthiness certificates concerning amateur-built aircraft.
Aircraft built in Canada as amateur built aircraft and brought into the United States are not eligible to receive an FAA-issued experimental airworthiness certificate as an amateur-built aircraft.
However, applicants may be considered for eligibility if they provide the FAA an official TCCA document stating that the applicant did in fact fabricate and assemble the major portion of the aircraft within the meaning of, and in compliance with, FAR 21.191(g), or they must show evidence of meeting that requirement.
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