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The Primary Kit-Built Category - Beyond the 51% Rule


For several decades, the EAA community advocated the creation of an aircraft category and rules tailored to the aircraft-kit market. In 1993 FAA responded with the creation of the Primary Kit-Built Category.

Under the Primary Kit-Built Category an owner/builder may participate in the construction of, and operate, an Experimental aircraft -- without the requirement under the Experimental Amateur-Built rules that the amateur builder(s) perform at least 51% of the construction tasks. The category was aimed mainly at aircraft that, while sold as kits, nonetheless call for a considerable amount of professional builder assistance from the factory or from a commercial builder. The category is limited to single-engine (naturally aspirated) aircraft with gross weights up to 2,700 lbs. (3,375 lbs. for seaplanes) and with up to four seats. Turbo-charged, turbine-engine, and pressurized aircraft are excluded.

To offer kits in the Primary Kit-Built Category, manufacturers have to obtain an FAA production certificate and type certificate for the aircraft model. However, the aircraft can then be built without the factory's supervision and quality control - in other words, with commercial builder assistance outside the factory. Aircraft in this category are licensed as Experimentals.

The category was designed to bring within the regulations those builders and manufacturers whose aircraft projects do not comply with the Amateur-Built Category's 51% rule. But the substantial cost and effort required to obtain FAA production and type certification for a kit-built design meant that very few kit manufacturers have taken that route.

EAA believes that, with a key modification, the Primary Kit-Built Category could offer a feasible and practical regulatory avenue enabling the participation of enthusiasts who want to build and fly their own aircraft without the requirement to perform more than half of the aircraft construction tasks.

The answer lies in a major regulatory breakthrough of the last few years, the FAA's adoption of the Sport Pilot Rule. Its use of industry-developed standards instead of government oversight of manufacturing processes, materials, and construction techniques creates opportunities. Those standards, which now apply to light-sport aircraft as defined by the Sport Pilot Rule, could also apply directly to the aircraft kits defined by the Primary Kit-Built Category. The highly respected ASTM International oversaw the development of these standards, which address quality, durability, dependability, and safety considerations.

Accordingly, EAA advocates that the FAA adopt ASTM standards in place of the FAA production and type certificates for Primary Kit-Built aircraft. EAA proposes that the FAA recognize the ASTM standards, coupled with an industry peer-group auditing process, as assuring a level of safety equivalent to that provided by FAA production and type certificates.

Please watch this website for more information on how you may rally with the EAA community to support this policy change, which would open doors to more participation in build-and-fly personal aviation.

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