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Preserving Amateur-Builders' Rights

EAA Seeks New Opportunities for Fast-builds and Assistance Programs

November 21, 2007 — EAA is supporting expansion of opportunities for enthusiasts representing a broad spectrum of aircraft building and flying interests. To that end, prior to making recommendations to the FAA on amateur-built aircraft regulations last week at the Aviation Rulemaking Committee, EAA's board of Directors voted to preserve existing amateur-building rules:

EAA supports the intent of the experimental "Amateur-Built" regulation and its requirement that the majority portion of the aircraft be fabricated and assembled by amateurs for their education and recreation, while maximizing safety and promoting design innovation.

"The EAA community consistently rallies behind efforts to open as many doors as possible to aviation enthusiasts of all stripes," said EAA President Tom Poberezny. "That's why we want to protect the existing amateur-building rules, including the spirit of the 51-percent requirement, to preserve the nearly unlimited scope of that category. Under those rules, an innovator has the flexibility to construct virtually any imaginable flying machine. We don't want to lose that freedom."

EAA is also focused on the big picture: A growing number of builders want to build and fly their own airplane, but some may not want to be bound by the requirement to perform at least 51 percent of the construction tasks themselves.

In addressing that segment of amateur-built aircraft, EAA board members also voted to pave avenues for kit-building approaches and builder-assistance programs that do not meet the 51-percent criterion:

EAA supports the revision of the existing experimental "Primary Kit Built" category to make this certification category readily available to consumers that desire to build their own personal aircraft without a restriction on the amount of commercial assistance they receive.

Accordingly, EAA Vice President of Industry and Regulatory Affairs Earl Lawrence says EAA is pushing for "a readily available alternative for many kit manufacturers and their customers." The alternative, he asserted, would entail a revision to the little known and under-used Experimental Primary Kit-Built Category.

In the mid-1980s, EAA advocated the creation of a category to address the unique needs of general aviation's kit-building segment. The outcome, the Experimental Primary Kit Built Category, does not limit the amount of prefabrication, pre-assembly, or assistance allowed in the aircraft's construction. However, the costly and burdensome requirement for manufacturers to obtain type certificates and production certificates to ensure quality standards has discouraged the category's use.

"The breakthrough we achieved in the light-sport aircraft arena, replacing expensive government oversight with high industry consensus standards, could significantly bolster the kit-built category," Lawrence said. "The standards already exist. It's just a matter of the FAA recognizing those quality and safety standards for kit-built aircraft and empowering an industry-auditing group to ensure compliance."

Lawrence foresees growing support for this approach within the EAA community. "As we discuss the importance of preserving the existing amateur-built rules and revising the kit-built category, our members are increasingly eager to weigh in with the FAA," he said.

The FAA has indicated that it will issue a policy statement after the New Year, and open a comment period thereafter.

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