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Amateur-Built ARC Completes Mission

Major recommendations echo EAA’s concerns

February 05, 2009 — The amateur-built Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) reconvened for a three-day session last week in Washington, D.C. to examine thousands of comments to the FAA’s much-debated proposals for policy and procedural changes to the U.S. amateur-built aircraft regulations. The ARC, co-chaired by Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president of industry and regulatory affairs, identified the main areas of concern expressed by the public and provided additional input for the FAA to render its final version, which is expected to be published in the Federal Register before AirVenture this summer.

Although the FAA has yet to issue its final statement, Lawrence described the ARC’s discussions as “very positive.”
The vast majority of comments received, Lawrence said, fell into one of the following groups:

  • Enforce the existing rules – don’t change anything;
  • Don’t make changes that would stifle innovation;
  • Remove the cumbersome 20/20/11 proposal;
  • Don’t clamp down so hard that it would adversely affect safety;
  • Create a new category or use existing kitbuilt category to certificate airplanes that fall short of 51% rule.

Other ARC participants on the industry side included Dick Van Grunsven (co-chair) of Van’s Aircraft, Mikael Via of Glasair Aviation, Sonex’s Jeremy Monnett, Rick Schramek of Epic Aircraft, and Joe Bartels of Lanciar, as well as DAR Joe Gauthier. Frank Paskiewicz, FAA Manager, Production and Airworthiness Division, served as chair for FAA representatives serving on the ARC.

“The FAA was looking for input from the aviation community, and we appreciate the opportunity, since EAAers by the thousands and many others in the aviation community expressed strong reservations with these proposed changes,” Lawrence said.

The ARC also recommended a definition of the term, “fabrication,” as follows: “To perform work on any material, part or component, such as layout, bending, countersinking, straightening, cutting, sewing, gluing/bonding, lay-up, forming, shaping, trimming, drilling, de-burring, machining, applying protective coatings, surface preparation and priming, riveting, welding or heat-treating, transforming the material, part or component toward or into its finished state.”

What’s next?
With the ARC’s mission completed, the FAA will take the input and finalize its new policy as quickly as possible, indicating plans to publish a result in time for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. In the meantime, the agency will issue an official statement through the Federal Register on the progress made at the ARC in part to address uncertainty over possible changes in the 51% Rule that have had a dampening effect on the kit aircraft industry. Agency officials said they would issue their statement “as soon as practical.”

Before Oshkosh last year, the FAA released its proposed changes aimed to address concerns about excessive commercial building of aircraft certificated in the Amateur Built category. The proposal was immediately criticized by EAA as being harmful to the homebuilt movement without solving the agency’s commercial assistance concerns. EAA’s call to action resulted in thousands of comment submissions from members and other aviation enthusiasts. (Read EAA’s comments.)

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