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ARC's Industry Members Provide Amateur-Building Policy Recommendations

November 16, 2007 — In their final meeting, which took place yesterday at FAA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., the general-aviation industry members of the Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) on amateur-built aircraft presented recommendations to the FAA. The presentation examined the content, interpretation, and enforcement of the amateur-built aircraft regulations.

In developing its recommendations, the industry group upheld the ARC's charter calling for a focus on the "51% rule," which requires amateur builders personally to perform more than half of the total tasks involved in the construction of their aircraft. The group's recommendations addressed questions regarding the effects of kit prefabrication and commercial builder-assistance programs on compliance with the 51% rule.

The FAA has indicated that it will study and consider the industry group's recommendations, and issue a Federal Register notice -- essentially a statement of proposed policy -- in early 2008, with a comment period to follow.

The presentation from ARC members representing the amateur-building industry included numerous observations and recommendations regarding FAA policies and practices, all of which supported three major conclusions.

First, they urged the FAA to exercise great care in adopting any new policies regarding the interpretation or enforcement of the 51% rule. Specifically, they cautioned against any changes that could cause currently accepted kits to be disqualified, citing ripple effects that would affect general aviation's suppliers of technology, parts, components, and subcontracted services.

Second, they advised against any revisions to the existing experimental amateur-built regulations and the amateur-built category. "The committee recognized that any attempt to modify or tailor the language of the broad rules to fit one particular segment of amateur building would result in a more limited overall category. We didn't want to hamstring the creativity and innovation that have become the hallmarks of the Experimental Amateur-Built Category," said Earl Lawrence, EAA's vice president of government and industry affairs. Lawrence and Dick VanGrunsven, founder and CEO of Van's Aircraft, co-chaired the ARC.

Third, the group recommended that FAA pave a new regulatory avenue for the considerable market of aviation enthusiasts who are interested in building and flying their own aircraft, but who may not want to be bound by the requirement to perform more than half of the construction tasks themselves.

The FAA announced the creation of the amateur-building ARC at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2006.

e-Hotline and other EAA communications will provide updates on the FAA's forthcoming Federal Register notice and related developments as they occur.

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