FAA Releases Proposed Guidance For 51% Rule

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The homebuilder community has been waiting anxiously for a few months now to see what the FAA would come up with in its promised "guidance" for interpreting the rules that guide the construction of amateur-built aircraft. The policy, released on Tuesday, mandates more stringent oversight of amateur-built certification by the FAA, said EAA's Earl Lawrence, vice president of industry and regulatory affairs, but at first glance, he added, it seems to contain no shocking surprises. "We urged the FAA to preserve the amateur builder's privilege to design, build, and fly an aircraft of any airworthy design, without limitations on the aircraft's complexity, power, size, performance, or other specifications," Lawrence said. "We've retained that essential privilege." The FAA policy notice calls for more stringent scrutiny of the construction process, requiring the amateur builder to provide clear evidence of a hands-on contribution to the project. It also proposes that the FAA may require an amateur builder to fabricate a minimum of 20 percent of an aircraft and assemble a minimum of 20 percent, and asked for comments on that proposal. EAA will petition the FAA to extend the brief 30-day window that was designated for a comment period.

The policy is sure to get plenty of attention at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, including an in-depth discussion at an EAA/FAA joint forum at 1 p.m. on opening day, Monday, July 28, in Pavilion 9. EAA said it will provide more information as the analysis continues and developments ensue. Click here for the full text of the FAA notice.