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Long-Awaited FAA Policy on Amateur Building Released

July 15, 2008 — The FAA today (July 15) published in the Federal Register its Official Notice of revised policies for interpretation and enforcement of the amateur-built aircraft regulations. These define the acceptable methods an amateur aircraft builder must follow during construction of an experimental amateur-built aircraft. (Follow this link to the document.)

EAA’s regulatory affairs staff has completed an initial overview of the Notice and will spend the next several days combing through the details. At first glance, much of the published policy is consistent with the FAA’s foreshadowing of the past several months, said Earl Lawrence, vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. “We knew the FAA was concerned about some practices in the aircraft kit industry that were diminishing the amateur builder’s actual contribution to construction,” he said. “This policy statement addresses those FAA concerns by imposing more stringent oversight of amateur-built certification.”

EAA’s immediate concern was the unusually brief 30-day comment period. Considering the complexities of this policy and the need to examine its ramifications for specific aircraft kits and builder-assistance programs, EAA contends the FAA is not allowing enough time for public comment and will petition the FAA for an extension of the comment period.

For the past several months, EAAers have contacted FAA policymakers, urging them not to weaken this valuable movement, and the innovations that it engenders, as the agency tightens its enforcement practices. “Together, we urged the FAA to preserve the amateur builder’s privilege to design, build, and fly an aircraft of any airworthy design, without limitations on the aircraft’s complexity, power, size, performance, or other specifications,” Lawrence said. “We’ve retained that essential privilege.”

The FAA’s “grandfathering” announcement in April was also reflected in the policy Notice. The agency declared that its new policies would not disqualify any aircraft kit that the FAA had already placed on its published list of approved amateur-built kit designs.

As anticipated, the Notice calls for more stringent scrutiny of the construction processes, requiring the amateur builder to provide clear evidence of his or her hands-on contribution.

The EAA analysis for the next several days will investigate the ramifications of the FAA policy on specific kits and builder-assistance programs. EAA will provide specific recommendations regarding the proposed policy so that members are better equipped to respond to it.

This year’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh convention will also provide opportunities to learn more and discuss this issue with policymakers. Lawrence encourages all participants in amateur-building activities to attend the EAA/FAA joint forum at 1 p.m. on opening day, Monday, July 28, in Pavilion 9.

EAA will provide more information as the analysis continues and developments ensue.

Submit comments by September 30, 2008, to:

e-mail: miguel.vasconcelos@faa.gov

U.S. Mail:
Miguel L Vasconcelos
Production and Airworthiness Division
AIR-200, Room 815
800 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20591

Fax: 202-267-8850

EAA asks that you also send your comments to govt@eaa.org.

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