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Member Comments Reinforce EAA’s Message: Enforce Existing 51% Rule

51% Rule
As members stated during AirVenture, they do not want proposed FAA policy and enforcement changes to affect their ability to build their own aircraft.

August 21, 2008 — For the past several months, EAAers have contacted FAA policymakers, urging them not to weaken the homebuilt movement and the innovations that it engenders, as the agency tightens its enforcement practices. The recurring theme of comments received from throughout the building community: "We don’t need any new regulations on the 51% Rule; the FAA just needs to enforce the rules it has in place."

"Our goal, first and foremost, is to protect the existing rights and privileges of amateur aircraft builders," says Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. "The issue is people who are having their aircraft built for them—who are not building a true amateur-built aircraft."

EAA and its members are particularly concerned about the proposed creation of a new requirement above and beyond current “major portion” (51%) regulations that 20% of an aircraft’s fabrication be done by amateurs. EAA contends this new requirement not only adds significant complexity to the use and enforcement of the regulation, but also does not address the core issue of excessive (more than 49%) commercial assistance.

“This new requirement only makes it more difficult for legitimate amateur-builders to document compliance,” Lawrence stressed. “It would have no effect on those who may currently fraudulently declare that their aircraft was constructed by amateurs,” which is what the FAA wants to eliminate.”

One solution EAA has proposed is to leave the current amateur-built regulations as they are, but use the dormant Primary Kit-Built Category to enable enthusiasts who want to build and fly their own aircraft without the requirement to perform more than half of the aircraft construction tasks. (Read more about this category.)

Meanwhile, comments on the FAA’s proposed new policy for administering and enforcing the 51” Rule are being accepted through September 30, 2008. EAA encourages its members to submit their comments through the following methods:

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.

To learn more about the 51 percent rule, the FAA’s proposed new policy, and EAA’s analysis of the proposal, or to submit a comment on the FAA proposal, visit www.EAA.org/govt/.

Members Speak Out

Member comments have been extremely useful as EAA staff continues developing EAA’s official response to the FAA’s proposed changes. Here is a sample of comments received at EAA’s “51% Forum” held during the recent AirVenture Oshkosh 2008:

The current method of enforcement has been more than adequate since 1952 and there is no data supporting the efficacy of a rules change in enhancing safety.
  - K.K., Sycamore, IL

Don’t change anything!!
  - D.R., State College, PA

Work with EAA to create a supportive and beneficial environment for homebuilders by creating rules/regulations that do not hinder builders.
  - D.R., Green Bay, WI

The 51% rule is established and does not need to be changed, divided into categories, or revised any other way. Let the rule stand and let general aviation explore and dream.
  - J.H., Bethalto, IL

EAA Technical Counselors should be used to advise and document vs. FSDO/in addition to FSDO. Put pro-builders out of business – not the amateurs!
  - M.D., Lees Summit, MO

The old rules work just fine. All of the DARs need to do is enforce them. Refuse some certification and the violations will stop. Enforce the rules.
  - R.D., Bowie, MD

Build a new category just like LSA. Then, the FAA could have their wish of having kit planes covered by jurisdiction and I would be able to buy a much lower cost, quicker to build, better quality plane. Helping the little guy.
  - J.O., Maple Grove, MN

Allow experienced homebuilders, EAA Technical Counselors, and licensed A & P’s to assist and file “advisory” reports on progress.
  - D.T., Columbus, Ohio

The existing policies can remain in place, provided you can establish a new policy that would allow someone to buy a custom-built aircraft from an authorized company. This practice is common in the automotive industry.
  - D.W., Caledonia, MI

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