Lancair Says New Homebuilt Rules A Threat

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Lancair President Joe Bartels said this week new rules for homebuilts under consideration by the FAA could put his company out of business. "If the FAA succeeds in doing what they tell us they want to do, I think it would be very difficult for us to stay in business here in Central Oregon, or anywhere in the U.S.," Bartels told the Bend Weekly News. "While we are certainly in the business of developing and selling high performance aircraft, and staying in the forefront of aviation technology, a key aspect of our business is the ability to provide the customer with all of the parts necessary to build a plane. To now say that I can't provide a section of carbon fiber wing as part of a kit, would really affect the entire industry." As AVweb and our sister publication Kitplanes have reported extensively, the FAA is looking at tightening homebuilt rules, particularly with regard to the amount of “professional” help builders can use to complete their projects.

The line between supplying parts and aiding in construction has been blurred as companies like Lancair and, more recently, Epic have developed complex, high-performance aircraft that require sophisticated construction techniques. Oregon likely has the greatest concentration of companies involved in the homebuilt industry, with 60 firms involved, and state officials wonder what the FAA’s agenda is. “What we cannot understand -- and what has never been explained by FAA -- is who is being harmed by the current standard?” said Roger Lee, executive director of Economic Development for Central Oregon.