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Lawrence Speaks on 51% Rule at Golden West

Earl Lawrence
Photo by Clark Cook

Earl Lawrence
Photo by Clark Cook

June 12, 2008 — EAA’s Earl Lawrence, vice president of industry and regulatory affairs, explained EAA’s positions and actions regarding FAA’s 51% Rule to dozens of attendees last Saturday during the Golden West Fly In, Marysville, California.

“Your privileges to design, build, and fly your own aircraft is threatened,” Lawrence told attendees, “Not from the FAA, but from those who want to use your amateur-built category for their financial gain.” As often happens in the United States, people don’t get all too concerned about the actions of other until they affect them. “That time is now,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence, who served as co-chairman of the FAA-appointed Amateur-Built Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) with Dick Van Grunsven of Van’s Aircraft, laid out EAA’s goals with regard to the ongoing amateur-built regulatory/policy changes:

  • Protect the current rights to build the fast-build aircraft kits that currently reside on the FAA 51% approved list and that EAAers have been building over the last 10 years.
  • Protect the ability to build an A-B aircraft of any complexity, power or size.
  • Obtain additional privileges for members to obtain additional assistance and to hire out more of their AC project.

Lawrence also advised attendees what they could do to help. “EAAers create a powerful environment of inspiration, innovation, encouragement and fellowship. Aviation is better off with your participation. Be safe: Use EAA’s Technical Counselors and Flight Advisors programs…and build more airplanes!”

EAA Position on 51% Regulations and Associated Policies:

  • No change to the actual regulation 21.191(no limits on power plant, size, etc.) We do not want to lose any of the privileges we have earned over the last 50 years.
  • Support FAA’s desire to have consistent, uniform kit evaluation procedure so that all kits are measured on the same scale. However, we do not want to lose the ability to continue to build kits, which FAA previously approved and have been sold as approved AB kits for years.
  • Support the revision of the Experimental 21.191 “Kit Built” category to allow kits to be sold by declaring compliance with applicable ASTM standards.
  • Support FAA efforts to enforce commercial assistance in excess of allowed 49%.

FAA Next Steps
Lawrence said the FAA has what it needs to develop a final draft of the new policy, which is not expected in June - but before AirVenture Oshkosh. At that time the industry will likely have 120 days to comment, after which (within 60 days) the FAA would release a final policy.

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