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EAA Asks Members to Urge FAA: Preserve Rights For All Homebuilders

February 28, 2008 — The rights and privileges enjoyed by homebuilders over the past half-century have not only given citizens the freedom to build and fly their own aircraft, they also led to innovations that have found their way into type-certificated products and created an entire industry of suppliers, designers, manufacturers, making all of aviation stronger. Recent developments, however, have caused considerable angst in the homebuilt community about whether or not that freedom will exist in the same form after the FAA unveils its new policy regarding amateur-built aircraft certification, which will occur later this year. Any substantive changes could cause negative effects to ripple throughout the homebuilt industry.

The FAA affirms that it wants to preserve the 51 percent rule and 14 CFR part 21.191(g), the homebuilt aircraft regulations. The agency is questioning whether "quick-build kits" result in aircraft that are compliant with the original regulations, even though the agency has consistently approved such aircraft.

To help the FAA have a better understanding of what it takes to build even a "fast build" aircraft, EAA is asking homebuilders to write the FAA and urge policymakers to maintain and protect the rights of ALL amateur builders.

When the agency announced its intentions to re-examine 51 percent regulations at EAA AirVenture 2006, it appointed an industry-government aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) to come up with recommendations on the amateur-building issue. (EAA's Earl Lawrence was ARC co-chair with Dick VanGrunsven of Van's Aircraft.) FAA published those ARC recommendations in the Federal Register earlier this month and also announced a temporary suspension of amateur-built aircraft kit evaluations, meaning it will not add any new kits to its "51 percent approved list" until the new policy is published.

Not included in the ARC report was EAA's position, shared by the kit manufacturers:

  1. Protect the current rights of builders to build the "quick-built" aircraft kits that FAA has included on the 51 percent approved list, and that our members have been building over the last decade. The FAA has to recognize that for more than a decade it has set precedent regarding the various kits and practices that they have said meet the standard. The FAA needs to honor its precedent and continue to approve those kits.
  2. Protect the 51 percent rule and with it, the builder's ability to build an amateur-built aircraft of any complexity, power or size.

A Call to Action
With these points in mind, EAA asks its members to get involved and write to the FAA.

If you're a homebuilder: Write and share your experience as an amateur builder with those who are spearheading the new policy. Share with the FAA your experience of building your aircraft, why you consider yourself a true amateur builder in every sense of the word, and that you advocate preserving the precedent established by the FAA when it approved today's fast or quick built kits as 51 percent-compliant. EAA has provided a sample letter with topics for you to consider including in your letter to the FAA.

If you're not a homebuilder: We sincerely hope that this issue is important to you, too. If you believe in the homebuilt movement and all the innovation that comes from it, be ready to act when the FAA publishes its new policy as to what qualifies under the amateur-built regulations. Watch the EAA website for further details.

To learn more about this critical issue, visit www.EAA.org/govt/building.asp, plus explore the information located under the Amateur-Built menu in the blue reference box on the left.

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