Exhibition-Air Racing
Certification and Operations

General Information

Exhibition-air racing aircraft are defined as follows:

Exhibition aircraft exhibit the aircraft’s flight capabilities, performance, or unusual characteristics at airshows, for motion picture, television, and similar productions, and for the maintenance of exhibition flight proficiency, including (for persons exhibiting aircraft) flying to and from such airshows and productions.

Air racing aircraft are used in air races, including (for such participants) practicing for such air races and flying to and from racing events.

EXHIBITION

A certificate for experimental exhibition will only be issued when an aircraft is to be used for valid exhibition purposes. Included in those purposes are organized airshows, organized air races, organized fly-in activities, organized exhibitions, youth education events, shopping mall/school/similar static displays, organized aerobatic competition, sail plane fly-ins or competitive races or meets, and movie or television productions. The duration of an airworthiness certificate for exhibition is unlimited.

Operating an aircraft to demonstrate its flight characteristics or capabilities in connection with sales promotions for the aircraft is not considered to be an eligible operational purpose under the exhibition category.

AIR RACING

A certificate for experimental air racing will only be issued when an aircraft is to be used for valid air racing purposes. The duration of an airworthiness certificate for air racing is unlimited.

Operating an aircraft to demonstrate its flight characteristics or capabilities in connection with sales promotions for the aircraft is not considered to be an eligible operational purpose under the air racing category.

BASE OF OPERATION

When an aircraft’s base of operation is changed or there is a transfer of ownership, the owner/operator must notify the local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) having jurisdiction over the area in which the aircraft will be based.

The owner/operator will provide the local FSDO with a copy of the inspection program identifying the person responsible for scheduling and performing the inspections as well as the requested proficiency areas.

EXPERIMENTAL AIRWORTHINESS CERTIFICATION MORATORIUM

On July 9, 1993, a moratorium was established because of a dramatic increase in applications for special airworthiness certificates and Special Flight Authorizations (SFA) for non-U.S.-manufactured aircraft that did not hold Type Certificates (TC) issued under FAR 21.29.

The moratorium was lifted on August 18, 1993, with interim guidance provided to certificate these aircraft. Although the moratorium was established for non U.S.manufactured aircraft, this policy will be used when issuing a special airworthiness certificate for the experimental purpose(s) of exhibition or air racing, regardless of the country of manufacture.

EFFECTIVITY

Aircraft that received original airworthiness certification before July 9, 1993, can remain in effect unless the original airworthiness certification purpose changes, for example, from R&D to exhibition. Those aircraft, except for purpose changes, will not be affected until the FAA works with the public to determine the best strategy to certificate all experimental exhibition and/or air racing aircraft in accordance with the new policy. The new policy established will not be used in these cases unless specifically requested by the applicant.

NOTE: Proficiency area limitations issued before July 9, 1993, will remain in effect despite the issuance of a new airworthiness certificate.

Former Military Aircraft

Many of the aircraft that are presented for airworthiness certification for the purpose(s) of exhibition or air racing are former military aircraft, both U.S. and non-U.S. The FAA acknowledges the significant role military aircraft have played in aviation heritage of the United States and the importance of preserving their legacy for future generations.

The exhibition of former military aircraft at aviation events for demonstration and display provides the public a rare view into our aviation past. Therefore, it is the policy of the FAA to permit the operation of surplus military aircraft for civilian use, consistent with the need to safeguard the general public.

NOTE: It should not be interpreted that all military aircraft require experimental airworthiness certificates. Some models have valid Type Certificates and could be eligible for a standard airworthiness certificate.

Surplus military aircraft have historically operated in the United States for R&D, air racing, and exhibition purposes in the experimental category. It is the policy of the FAA that eligible aircraft will be certificated in the experimental category when operated for the special purposes of exhibition and/or air racing.

To ensure the safe operation of these aircraft and minimize adverse environmental impact, the FAA has established appropriate and reasonable operating limitations.

The ability of civilian operators to maintain and operate these aircraft depends on their background and experience, training and facilities, availability of technical manuals and design information, and the complexity of the aircraft involved. To this end, and to the maximum extent feasible, it is the policy of the FAA to recognize the most complete sources of maintenance and training and to encourage owners, operators, and flightcrew members to use these sources and successfully complete required training from recognized training organizations.

Applicants for certification of former military turbine powered aircraft must be advised that these aircraft were designed and manufactured without the noise rules provided for current turbine powered commercial and business type aircraft. They also must be advised of industry-developed procedures and guidelines designed to minimize the impact such aircraft impose at airports and the surrounding communities.

Aircraft operators must accept the responsibility for operating their aircraft in such a manner as to reduce the noise impact to the lowest practicable level. The Experimental Aircraft Association has developed operating procedures and a recommended program for reducing the noise impact. The EAA’s recommended procedures are contained in its Jet Operations Manual. Persons considering operating such aircraft should become familiar with and use the procedures outlined in the EAA’s Jet Operations Manual or other procedures acceptable to the Administrator.

In recent years, the number and turbine powered aircraft have greatly expanded, mostly as a result of the import of aircraft of non-U.S. manufacture. Examples of these aircraft include models such as the Northrop F-5, which is of U.S. manufacture, and the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-15, which is of non-U.S. manufacture.

It is of critical importance to the FAA, to the civilian owners and operators of such aircraft, and to the general public that these aircraft are operated safely in the National Airspace System.

Brokering

FAR 21.191(d) was not intended to allow for the brokering or marketing of experimental aircraft. This includes individuals who manufacture, import, or assemble aircraft, and then apply for and receive experimental exhibition airworthiness certificates so they can sell the aircraft to buyers.

This regulation ONLY provides for the exhibition of an aircraft’s flight capabilities, performance, or unusual characteristics at airshows, and for motion picture, television, and similar productions. FAA/DAR's will ensure that all applications for exhibition airworthiness certificates are for the purposes are from the registered owners who will exhibit the aircraft for those purposes.

Groups of Aircraft

Aircraft eligible for experimental airworthiness certification for exhibition or air racing range from unpowered gliders to high-performance jet aircraft. In order to properly certificate this wide range of aircraft, and in response to the many public comments received, the FAA has divided these aircraft into four groups. This was done in order to establish standardized operating limitations, proficiency areas, and inspection requirements appropriate to each aircraft.

The FAA will make a determination of which group the aircraft will operate in based on the following:

GROUP 1 - PERFORMANCE COMPETITION AIRCRAFT

Specialty aircraft are of limited availability and possess design characteristics that make the aircraft suitable for competition. The operational parameters are designed for only one purpose, for example, maneuverability, flight duration, or speed, and as such would only be used in performance-based competition events and would not be used for personal business or transport activity.

Aerobatic aircraft or powered/unpowered gliders. Aircraft that would operate under this group include the Rolladen-Schneider LS-4b, Schleicher ASW-24, Pitts Special, Sukhoi SU-26, Sukhoi SU-29, etc.

All proficiency flights will be conducted in airspace within an operational radius of 300 nautical miles from the airport where the aircraft is based.

These aircraft must be inspected each year in accordance with an inspection plan that contains the scope and detail of FAR 43 Appendix D.

GROUP II - TURBINE POWERED AIRCRAFT

This group includes any jet, turbofan, and turboprop; except those turbine powered aircraft that have a design capability of carrying cargo or more than four occupants. Those aircraft that have a design capability of carrying cargo or more than four occupants will be certificated using the guidelines under group IV.

Aircraft that operate under this group include the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-17, Aero Vodochody L-29, Hispan Aviacion HA-200 Saeta, Fouga CM-170R Magister, Lockheed or Canadair T-33, Grumman OV-1 Mohawk, etc.

All proficiency flights will be conducted in airspace within an operational radius of 600 nautical miles from the airport where the aircraft is based. Proficiency flights will be limited to a nonstop flight that begins and ends at the home base airport, with sufficient fuel reserve to meet the applicable operating rules of FAR 91.

Operators who choose to fly to another airport within the assigned proficiency area must notify their geographically responsible Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) prior to each proficiency flight away from their home base airport.

These aircraft must have a FSDO-approved inspection program that meets the requirements of FAR 91.409(e).

GROUP III - PISTON POWERED WARBIRDS, VINTAGE, REPLICA, AND UNIQUE AIRCRAFT

This group includes former military aircraft that were designed for military operations. Vintage aircraft are those aircraft that were designed before 1945. Replica aircraft are those aircraft that have the same external configuration as an aircraft that was designed before 1945. Unique aircraft are those aircraft that are one-of-a-kind.

This group includes U.S. piston-powered Warbirds (regardless of size) and non-U.S. piston-powered aircraft under 12,500 pounds that meet the above description and do not have a design capability of carrying cargo or more than four occupants.

Aircraft that operate under this group include the North American T-28, Lockheed P-38, North American P-51, Messerschmitt ME-109, Boeing B-17, North American B-25, DeHavilland DHC-1 Chipmunk or Tiger Moth DH-82A, Focke-Wulfe Piaggo (FWP)-149, Nord Stampe SV4C, and Bucker Jungman BU-131.

All proficiency flights for an aircraft under 800 horsepower will be conducted in airspace within an operational radius of 300 nautical miles from its designated home base airport. Aircraft 800 horsepower and above will be limited to an operational radius of 600 nautical miles from their designated home base airport.

Aircraft under 800 horsepower must be inspected each year in accordance with an inspection plan that contains the scope and detail of FAR 43 Appendix D. Aircraft of 800 horsepower and above must be inspected in accordance with appropriate military technical publications or manufacturer’s instructions for the aircraft.

GROUP IV - OTHER AIRCRAFT

This group includes all aircraft that do not clearly fit in any of the other groups. This group includes aircraft that would be in the standard category but have been modified, and the modification has not been processed under the supplemental type certificate (STC) process; and, aircraft over 12,500 pounds, or those that have a design capability of carrying cargo or more than four occupants.

This group also includes any newly produced aircraft that do not have a type certificate under FAR 21.21 or FAR 21.29, with the exception of those aircraft that meet the description of aircraft for group I. In addition, this group includes aircraft that normally would be eligible for amateur-built airworthiness certification, but the owner has chosen to not perform the major portion of the fabrication and assembly as required under FAR 21.191(g).

This group includes aircraft that have a design capability of carrying cargo or more than four occupants, and any other aircraft that do not clearly belong in any of the other groups. Aircraft that would operate under this group include the Lockheed C-130, Antonov AN-2, Antonov AN-24, Iluyshin IL-76, and Cessna 172 with an automobile engine not approved under an STC, etc.

The proficiency area is limited to a nonstop flight that begins and ends at the airport where the aircraft is based, with sufficient fuel reserve to meet the applicable operating rules of FAR 91. An alternate airport selection is not available for aircraft in this group.

Aircraft that weigh 12,500 pounds or less must be inspected each year in accordance with an inspection plan that contains the scope and detail of FAR 43 Appendix D. Aircraft over 12,500 pounds must have a FSDO-approved inspection program that meets the requirements of FAR 91.409(e).

Special Certification Requirements

DEMILITARIZATION OF FORMER MILITARY AIRCRAFT

The FAA/DAR will -

- Obtain from the applicant a program letter in accordance with FAR 21.193(a), setting forth the purpose(s) for which the aircraft will be used. The program letter must be specific as to the intended use under the purpose requested, including names, dates, and locations of airshows, air races, or exhibition activities that will be attended. In the case of a movie or television production, the date(s) and location(s) of these productions must be provided.

The applicant’s program letter should state a reasonable schedule of events to be attended, but should not list events that would obviously be impossible to attend, for example, listing all airshows scheduled in the United States for the upcomingyear.

NOTE: Applicants that do not submit a specific program letter do not meet the intent of FAR 21.193 and will not be issued a special airworthiness certificate.

- Ensure that the applicant has written in or translated into the English language all of the necessary maintenance, inspection, operating, and flight manual(s) required to safely operate the aircraft.

- Verify that maintenance records reflect records of inspections, overhauls, repairs, time-in-service on life-limited parts and engines, etc., and that all records are current.

- If the aircraft is included in group II or group IV (only those aircraft over 12,500 pounds and all turbine powered aircraft regardless of weight), verify that the applicant has a FSDO-approved inspection program that meets the requirements of FAR 91.409(e).

- Verify that the appropriately rated FAA-certificated mechanic has made an entry in the aircraft records documenting the applicable inspections as referenced in paragraph 159 of this order for all aircraft (including new) within 30 days prior to submitting Form 8130-6.

The FAA/DAR will perform an inspection to the extent necessary to ensure that a prior inspection of the aircraft and aircraft systems has been accomplished in accordance with the inspection requirements. They will also verify that instruments, instrument markings, and placards are as required and are identified in the English language.

In addition, they will verify that all measurements are converted to standard U.S. units of measure for those instruments necessary for operation in the U.S. air traffic system.

Once the FAA/DAR has determined that the aircraft meets the requirements for the airworthiness certification requested, they will make an aircraft record entry and issue the airworthiness certificate and appropriate operating limitations.

If the aircraft does not meet the certification requirements and the airworthiness certificate is denied, the FAA will provide a letter to the applicant stating the reason(s) for denial and, if feasible, identify which steps may be accomplished to meet the certification requirements.

Click on this link to view the typical operating limitations for these type of aircraft Airshow and Air Racing Aircraft Operating Limitations.

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