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Importing a U.S. Homebuilt Into Canada

Spencer Thompson's Imported F-1 Rocket
Spencer Thompson's Imported F-1 Rocket

Allan MacDonald's Imported Christen II Eagle
Allan MacDonald's Imported Christen II Eagle

Within the last few months, we’ve seen several U.S. amateur-built aircraft purchased and imported into Canada by Canadians. If you are contemplating such an adventure, you need to know some of the basic rules.

Is the Aircraft Eligible?

  • Maximum 4-place with three designated passenger seats
  • Maximum 5,000 lb. gross weight
  • Minimum of 100 hours logged flight time after issuance of a permanent C of A for amateur-built aircraft in the USA

If the aircraft meets the above three conditions, you have passed the first hurdle!

Getting the Aircraft Into Canada:
Once you have bought the aircraft, you need to get it into Canada, to the base from which you intend to operate, at least for the first few hours of flight.

Remember, to fly a U.S.-registered aircraft you need to have a U.S. pilot’s certificate. If you qualify, you can fly it yourself, or you can get someone who has the qualifications to fly it to your base for you. During this time period, the aircraft would need to remain in the registry of the owner. Once here, the owner would sell it to you and de-register from its U.S. registry.

You can also have it de-registered in the USA before flight, and then obtain a temporary Canadian registration and ferry permit to get it into Canada, but this is a more cumbersome route to entry.

Once here, and with the appropriate bill of sale, you have the privilege of contacting Canada Customs and paying your appropriate Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Modifying/Adapting an Aircraft to Canada’s Rules and Regulations:
If you haven’t already done so, you should download a copy of the rules and regulations: CAR 549.01 from the MD-RA website, www.md-ra.com. These will tell you what additional procedures, equipment, placards, inspections, etc. are necessary; items like a magnetic compass, carburetor heat, fuel-flow test, climb test, and the seemingly never-ending paperwork that you will need to deal with.

You must register the aircraft with your Canadian call sign through Transport Canada, and then file a Letter of Intent and Import Inspection request with the MD-RA. You will again be given the opportunity to part with your hard-earned disposable income. The MD-RA will assign an inspector for you, who will check off the appropriate items to signify that your aircraft does indeed meet the new Canadian reality.

The inspector’s responsibility is to:

  • Ensure the aircraft meets the criteria of a Canadian amateur-built aircraft
  • Satisfies the flight hour requirement for the import
  • That it is, in the opinion of the inspector, safe to fly.

If your aircraft meets all of the above criteria, the inspector will issue Flight Authority with conditions attached. This document will be reviewed by a senior ‘peer’ and then you will receive permission to fly. Most likely the conditions attached will be a requirement for VFR, day only, and a requirement for a climb test. With the climb test completed, you can apply to Transport Canada for your permanent C of A-Amateur-built Aircraft, and have any restrictions or conditions removed (such as ‘VFR only’, or ‘no aerobatics permitted’), provided the aircraft qualifies for these additional ratings.

Daunting? Perhaps a little, but as you get into it, it all makes good logical sense. So if you find your dream airplane at Oshkosh, and the exuberance of the AirVenture spirit is with you, GO FOR IT!

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