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Bits and Pieces

Homebuilder’s Report From the MD-RA

By Ian Brown, Editor – Bits and Pieces, EAA 657159

Buchanan
Bob Buchanan inspecting an amateur built aircraft

If you’ve never tried to build an aircraft in Canada, you may not know much about the process involved. Canada has a slightly different system to the United States, and in future articles we will be seeing some interesting items directly from Allan Mahon, the general manager of the Minister’s Delegates – Recreational Aviation (MD-RA) inspectorate. As opposed to the term “experimental” used in the United States, Canadian aircraft built at home are called “amateur-built”.

Interestingly builders are mandated to have a sign visible as the passenger gets into the aircraft, indicating that it’s an aircraft that has not been built to internationally recognized standards (or that it’s experimental if in the United States). It’s not really clear whether this is meant to reassure the passenger! The inspector is responsible for applying the rules rather than making them, including checking for the labels.

Allan kindly provided the following information on the Canadian inspection service:

The Ministry of Transportation designates volunteer inspectors to carry out the staged inspections necessary during the construction of an amateur-built aircraft, and there are presently 48 MD-RA inspectors. The   end of this year will mark 17 years of supplying inspections of amateur-built aircraft for Transport Canada.  Service is provided to all provinces, the Yukon, and NWT out of the five Transport Canada regions, Pacific, Prairie and Northern Region, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Regions. 

If you build your own aircraft you must file a letter of intent, and at minimum have a pre-close inspection and a final inspection at the airport, prior to first flight. Pre-close is intended to let the inspector see the inside of all closed panels, like elevators and the vertical stabilizer, to assess the quality of the workmanship. The final inspection covers all aspects of an aircraft ready for flight, resulting in approval to begin the test flights.

An exciting change recently for anyone building or interested in building an aircraft includes some new online resources. A new website is now active offering all MD-RA services, including how-to guides and all the necessary information on how to start the paperwork to build your own aircraft. The website can be found at www.MD-RA.com, service is available in both English and French, and information is available on many contacts and materials.

I asked Allan for an update on how amateur aircraft building was going in Canada. He told me that 2011 was proving to be a fairly typical year and gave me the these statistics:                       

The following is an annual average of inspections performed.

Letter of Intent: 226

Major Portion / 51 percent Evaluation: 41

Initial pre-cover/paint/close: 130

Final Inspection/ issue C of A: 120

Import Inspection/ issue C of A: 38

So we can soon expect to see 120 new amateur-built aircraft in our skies and 38 imports.
Art: swartz.jpg Title: Marty Swartz inspecting a propeller installation

NEW! Coming January 2012 Builders wishing to have their Initial Flight Conditions modified may contact the MD-RA Inspection Office to receive this service. We will be capable of supplying next-day service.

Look for more news from the MD-RA in future issues of Bits and Pieces.

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