NBAA Convention News

Kitbuilt policy due out soon to guide builders and feds

 - October 14, 2009, 6:15 AM

The Experimental Aircraft Association (Booth No. 1263) and its members, following last month’s publication of the final report of the 2008 Amateur-Built Aircraft Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), eagerly anticipate the publication of FAA orders and advisory materials that will provide guidance to FAA inspectors, designated airworthiness representatives and the builders of experimental aircraft kits.

The 2008 ARC’s report follows a 2006 ARC report on amateur-built aircraft, which was published in February 2008. An FAA request for public comment about proposed changes recommended in the 2006 ARC report generated 2,273 public comments to the FAA during its five-month comment period in late 2008. About 1,300 comments came from EAA members.

“We expect the actual FAA policy to mirror the committee report very, very closely,” said Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president of regulatory affairs and co-chair of the 2008 ARC. “If the report from the committee had a minority opinion, that would show there was a conflict and then you don’t know which way it would go. But again, you don’t know until the policy comes out.”

Two key elements of the 2008 report are an agreement from the manager of the FAA Production and Airworthiness Division (AIR-200) to consider withdrawal of the proposed 20/20/11 concept and a new definition of “fabrication.”

The 20/20/11 concept, as part of the 51-percent owner-build requirement, is an FAA proposal that would require an amateur builder to fabricate a minimum 20 percent of an aircraft and assemble a minimum of 20 percent of it. The remaining 11 percent could vary between fabrication and assembly.

The new definition of “fabrication,” as agreed to by the ARC, is “to perform work on any material, part, or component, such as layout, bending, countersinking, straightening, cutting, sewing, gluing/bonding, lay-up, forming, shaping, trimming, drilling, de-burring, machining, applying protective coatings, surface preparation and priming, riveting, welding or heat treating, transforming the material, part, or component toward or into its finished state.”

But as Lawrence pointed out, it’s not over until the FAA issues its policy orders. As the report states, “Although the FAA will take into consideration this 2008 ARC report as published, all discussions, proposals, documents, charts, tables and recommendations produced by the committee are subject to FAA final review and may be accepted or rejected at the sole discretion of the FAA.”