Why You Should Care About The 51 Percent Rule

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Some of the most popular general aviation aircraft designs available today (the Cirrus SR20 and SR22, the Cessna 350 and 400, the Liberty XL2 and others) trace a major part of their roots back to the experimental aviation segment. The argument could be made that if you like innovative certified brand new general aviation aircraft, you should care about the FAA's proposed changes to the 51% rule. The FAA's goal is to better control businesses like builder assist centers that may significantly reduce a builder's actual involvement in the building process. While older kits previously approved by the FAA may be excluded from new regulation, new kits like the Furio -- that could usher in new streamlined methods of production, design and applied aerodynamics -- could potentially be stifled by new regulation. EAA believes the current regulations, if enforced, would be sufficient to meet the FAA's goal. It also believes that by regulating specific amounts of fabrication and assembly required of homebuilders the FAA would place on them an undue burden.

Your comments on the FAA's proposal are welcome before the comment period ends later this month:

The experimental segment contributes to general aviation by increasing accessibility, stimulating the development of new technology (like glass cockpits and ballistic parachutes) but also contributes in numbers. Vans aircraft, for example, estimates builders have completed more than 5,800 examples of the company's designs. Vans founder Dick Van Grunsven offers his inside perspective here (PDF).