Homebuilding Guidance Released By FAA

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After a lengthy wait and more than a bit of hand-wringing on the part of builders and kit manufacturers, the FAA has finally published Advisory Circular 20-27G, which forms the approval basis for experimental/amateur-built aircraft. In the preamble, the FAA says that "This AC is not mandatory and does not constitute a regulation. This AC describes an acceptable means, but not the only means, to comply certification and operation requirements of amateur-built aircraft." However, virtually all Designated Airworthiness Representatives and FAA inspectors look to the AC for guidance.

The good news for builders is that the basic revisions to the AC appear as predicted in the months since Oshkosh, when we were told that some onerous aspects of the proposed new rules—such as the dreaded 20/20/11 rule, requiring 20% fabrication by the builder—have been dropped. In addition, the new AC has a more comprehensive and rational definition of fabrication than the one floated by the FAA in the summer of 2008.

In the AC, the FAA has established criteria by which builders can determine which set of rules applies to them. If the kit itself was evaluated before the rules change (and found to provide the builder 51% or more of the work to do), the kit itself has not changed since the approval, AND the builder has used no commercial assistance, then he can use the previous rules and checklists. If the kit has been changed or the builder used commercial assistance, then the new rules apply.

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