U.S. Department
of Transportation

Federal Aviation

St. Louis
Flight Standards District Office

10801 Pear Tree Lane
Suite 200
St. Ann, Missouri 63074


October 2003 




Thought for the month..... A little inaccuracy saves a world of explanation.

The Wright Stuff.... The Wright Brother’s airplanes were all amateur-built. All home builders should take a lot of pride in this fact. Suffice it to say that the Wright’s airplane was sufficiently more than 51% fabricated by them. If they were subject to today’s rules for certificating their flyer it would easily fall under the majority built concept. And, they would have been able to certify it as an amateur-built experimental airplane.

When a person makes an application for an airworthiness certificate, the FAA Inspector or Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) follows FAA Order 8130.2(X). Most of us know of the “51%” rule for amateur-built aircraft - “..an aircraft in which the major portion has been fabricated and assembled by persons who undertook the construction project solely for their own education or recreation”. Some parts may be procured and don’t need to be fabricated by the builder, (engines, propellers, aircraft hardware items, etc.) but the major portion must be produced from raw stock or other materials that have been cut to approximate length or shape and finished by the builder.

People often want to buy an airplane-building project from someone who cannot complete it. The buyer’s intention is to finish the project as their own but they don’t know if they can qualify as the builder of the major portion. The issue is not whether they completed the major portion, rather it is whether or not the major portion came from a kit (completely finished prefabricated components-precut/predrilled by the kit manufacturer) or by someone’s blood, sweat, and tears - or cuts, drilled fingers, smashed thumbs and so on. The short answer is yes; someone else other than the person who started it can finish the partially built project. As long as there are good records and documents of the project all the way back to the beginning showing that the major portion wasn’t produced by a person or enterprise engaged in production of the parts for profit.

What may be a problem when purchasing a partially completed project is obtaining a Repairman Certificate. Section 65.104 states that to be eligible the applicant must be the primary builder of the aircraft. If the project was more that half built at the time of transfer of ownership, that may be difficult to establish. The person applying for the certificate will have to show to the satisfaction of the FAA Inspector reviewing the Repairman Certificate application that they are in fact the primary builder.

I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is to maintain good supporting records of the building project. Too many times I have been shown only pictures, which turned out to be the only documentation of the project. Here is a hint: if photos are all that you have at this point write something substantial on the back of each photo. Include the name of the aircraft, person who has performed the work; identify the part or location of the subject of the picture, and the (approximate) date. Then go out and buy an inexpensive spiral notebook and from this point on keep a written journal of the rest of the work performed. It doesn’t have to be highly detailed but should include at a minimum that information that I just listed in the previous paragraph. If there have been any conversations of technical support from the plans supplier, support groups, or other technical advisors that information should be recorded because is extremely supportive of the project. Time spent (in terms of hours) on any portion of the project is good to record. It could establish a benchmark for determining who the primary builder is.

The EAA is an organization that is instrumental in assisting the homebuilder in the technical arena. They have a cadre of technical advisors who will travel to a project to give advise in good aeronautical practices. They are not however permitted to make entries in a building journal. Any time a technical advisor or other qualified person comes to “look over” the work a record should be made of that event by the builder that includes identifying the person who made the visit.

Getting your aircraft certified with as few obstacles as possible will depend whether your records are complete enough to show all the (W)right stuff!

Upcoming Events

October 11th
IFR review
Skyline Aeronautics
9-11 AM

October 21st
Flying and Surviving in Winter Weather
Lindbergh High School
Cafeteria #3
7-9 P.M.

October 23rd
FAA New Field Approval Policies
Wings of Hope hangar
6-8 P.M.

October 25th
7th Annual Helicopter Safety Seminar
Mid Coast Aviation Training Center
8 AM to 3 PM

Airworthiness Safety Program Manager
1-800-322-8876 extension 4830