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EAA Seeks to Help Clarify AD/Amateur-Built Aircraft Confusion

February 12, 2009 — Do airworthiness directives (ADs) apply to experimental amateur-built aircraft and experimental light-sport aircraft? That question has been the subject of some concern, as the answer sometimes depends on whom in the FAA you’re asking. There have been some conflicting internal FAA interpretations, but the historical paper trail has several examples plainly stating that ADs are issued only for type-certificated (TC) aircraft. Because of this EAA’s position has always been amateur-built aircraft and experimental light-sport aircraft do not have TCs, they are therefore not subject to ADs.

The conflicts have become apparent due to differences of opinion between FSDO/MIDO inspectors, FAA regional guidance, and the regulatory guidance issued by FAA headquarters. EAA is working to help clear up the confusion to provide its members and the rest of the flying public with a clear understanding of actual FAA policy guidance.

“The issue of AD compliance has been around many years and we will continue engaging the FAA until the common understanding is reached,” said Joe Norris, EAA homebuilders community manager. “EAA is working in partnership with the FAA to develop educational opportunities for FAA personnel, designated airworthiness representatives (DARs), and aircraft builders, owners and operators to make sure we’re all on the same page regarding ADs.” These could include FAA Orders, Advisory Circulars, other FAA publications, EAA builders’ information documents, and informational letters to DARs and FAA inspectors.

In comments submitted on January 14 to the FAA’s draft to revise the Airworthiness Directives Manual (FAA-IR-M-8040.1C), EAA points out an excellent opportunity to address and resolve the experimental aircraft AD interpretation conflicts once and for all that are affecting aircraft owners and builders today.

An in-depth review, Airworthiness Directives & Amateur Built Aircraft, is available to EAA members on the members’ government website.

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