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EAA advocacy effort results in new option for Task-Based Phase I flight testing

New program offers greater safety enhancement, options for subsequent owners

EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wisconsin — (March 10, 2023) — A new Phase I optional flight-test program for amateur-built aircraft that offers enhanced safety opportunities and possibilities for aircraft second owners has been published by the Federal Aviation Administration, following a sustained advocacy effort from the Experimental Aircraft Association.

The new guidance published in the FAA’s Amateur-Built Aircraft and Ultralight Flight Testing Handbook is an alternative to the standard 25- to 40-hour flight testing requirement for amateur-built aircraft. For participants, it replaces the hour-based test period with specific tasks to successfully complete. When tasks are successfully completed and an Aircraft Operating Handbook (AOH) created, an aircraft can exit the Phase I flight testing period.

“Homebuilders now have this option, for which EAA has been advocating for many years,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “Focusing on successfully completing specific tasks instead of logging hours of flight puts the emphasis on safety from the very first flight and gives each test flight a defined purpose. In addition, this is a great help for subsequent owners of homebuilt aircraft, who are often seeking specific guidance to safely transition to these aircraft. All of that is part of the goal to continually enhance the safety parameters for pilots and aircraft.”

Task-based Phase I testing is an option, as aircraft builders and pilots can continue to opt for the hour-based flight testing protocol if preferred. The program prescribes 17 individual flight test tasks that must be successfully completed and the creation of an Aircraft Operating Handbook for the aircraft. In order for the task-based option to be available, operating limitations must be issued along with the airworthiness certificate for an amateur-built aircraft during the final FAA inspection process. Within the next two months, EAA expects that limitations allowing the task-based program will be issued to all new experimental aircraft.

Anyone, including kit manufacturers and type clubs, can create a test plan that directs the process to complete the prescribed tasks. Users of EAA’s popular Flight Test Manual also mirrors the program requirements.

“Programs such as this, developed in cooperation between the FAA and EAA, are direct contributors to the significant improvement in the amateur-built accident rate we’ve experienced over the past two decades, and demonstrates the commitment to safety within our community,” Elliott said. “EAA’s continued commitment to working with the FAA is a testament to our heritage and culture and is a key component to ensuring that the amateur-built aircraft movement is able to grow and thrive.”

More information is available in the FAA’s Advisory Circular (AC) 90-89C. In addition, EAA is hosting a free webinar on April 4 to introduce the opportunities available with the new task-based Phase I testing protocol.

About EAA
The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and embodies The Spirit of Aviation through the world’s most engaged community of aviation enthusiasts. EAA’s 270,000 members and 900 local chapters enjoy the fun and camaraderie of sharing their passion for flying, building and restoring recreational aircraft. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 800-JOIN-EAA (800-564-6322) or go to www.eaa.org. For continual news updates, connect with www.twitter.com/EAA.

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