EAA: Experimental Ops Limits To Be Fixed

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EAA says that it’s close to getting the FAA to revise the current template of operating limitations that are applied to every new experimental/amateur-built aircraft registered in the U.S. At issue is a small change that was made in 2017 to the current template, found in Order 8130.2J, that can be construed as requiring all homebuilts to follow all manufacturer-mandated maintenance guidelines including time between overhauls and time in service limits.

The upshot is significant because the expectation is that any product installed on an experimental aircraft is no longer held to the same regulatory standards as a certified aircraft. While most builders and owners of experimental aircraft adhere to some “mandatory” maintenance requirements like TBO, the fact is they don’t have to. 

According to the EAA, “In meetings with the FAA at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019, EAA received assurances that this limitation only means that if experimental aircraft owners choose to go beyond the manufacturer’s recommended service or replacement intervals, they must merely have a plan for evaluating the part’s serviceability, such as oil analysis for an engine. This is no different than the practices used by any aircraft maintenance professional when inspecting any aircraft.”

Moreover, EAA says that “the FAA policy staffers also acknowledged that such inspection plans need not be explicitly ‘approved’ by FAA, and they agreed to remove that word from the limitation in a forthcoming update to the order. Some special-case aircraft such as jet warbirds and turbine helicopters do require FAA-approved inspection programs, but there are other limitations specifically for those aircraft that address such requirements.”

“This is yet another example of us leveraging the strong working relationship between EAA and FAA to solve a problem,” said Tom Charpentier, EAA government relations director. “We knew exactly who to call to clarify this issue, and after the responsible policy office had some time to research the issue, we were able to hammer out a solution within about 20 minutes one morning during AirVenture around the conference table.”

For more news and features on experimental/amateur-built aircraft, visit our sister publication, KITPLANES.

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