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Thread: I'm confused about the maintenance and annuals on an experimental I purchase.

  1. #1

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    Question I'm confused about the maintenance and annuals on an experimental I purchase.

    I'm having trouble understanding the rules with respect to maintaining an E-LSA or EAB Zodiac 601HD. I originally wanted to build this aircraft but it was for the wrong reasons. I'm no builder. No time, less patience than needed. I spoke to a gentleman who told me he once built an RV6 for $35k more than he purchased one for later. I just want to own the equivalent of an S-LSA for a fraction of the price, if that's even possible. So, if an aircraft is built by someone else, is there any way I can be certified to maintain it and annual it? If I have to build 51% of it, I will, but again, I'm not interested in building.

    This is confusing and with it currently being a buyer's market, I'd like to know exactly what I'm in for as far as ownership costs and the like. Forgive me if this question has been asked a thousand times. As a matter of fact, I would settle for a link to a comprehensive explanation to this E-LSA/EAB/S-LSA "who's on first" quandry.

    Educate me, please.

  2. #2
    Neil's Avatar
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    If you purchase an Experimental category aircraft you can do the work on the aircraft but the work must be signed off by a licensed mechanic. (A&P) If you (and any number of your closest friends)do 51% of the work on an Experimental Amateur Built aircraft you (or any one of those friends as long as they were not paid) may apply for the repairman's certificate for that airplane. The certificate is not good for any other aircraft even if that aircraft is identical in every way.

    Like you I am a little foggy on some of the wording in the Light Sport arena but if the term Experimental is attached I would bet the above applies.

  3. #3

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    Okay here's the scoop, if you don't want to build but you want to escape the racket that is associated with the A/P annuals or conditionals then your choice is left to an ELSA registered aircraft then you must take the 16 hr lightsport maint/inspection course, (there is a specific name for the course it escapes me right now) .After passing you will be able to do the condition inspection on any ELSA registered airplane. I believe but don't quote me that there are some 601"s registered as ELSA.

  4. #4
    CarlOrton's Avatar
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    And to further clarify: Anyone can do any work on any experimental, even if they didn't build it. It's the annual condition inspection that must be performed by EITHER an A&P (no IA required) OR one of the original builders if they have the repairman's certificate FOR THAT AIRCRAFT. Racegunz is correct in that you can take the course for the ELSA repairman certificate.

    Carl Orton
    Sonex #1170
    http://mykitlog.com/corton

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by AviatorKeith View Post
    I would settle for a link to a comprehensive explanation to this E-LSA/EAB/S-LSA "who's on first" quandry.

    Educate me, please.

    Here ya go: http://www.sportpilot.org/learn/

  6. #6
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil View Post
    If you purchase an Experimental category aircraft you can do the work on the aircraft but the work must be signed off by a licensed mechanic. (A&P)
    Clarification: The work does not have to be specifically signed off by an A&P...it is not necessary to gain A&P approval before returning the airplane to service. Rather, during the next Conditional Inspection, the A&P will assess whether the aircraft is airworthy, INCLUDING the work that you'd done.

    I'm in exactly that situation: I extensively modified the electrical system of my Fly Baby, and have been flying it with no problems for the past two months. My Condition Inspection is due, and I've told my A&P about the modifications and warned him that the annual might take a bit more time as he examines my work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neil View Post
    If you (and any number of your closest friends)do 51% of the work on an Experimental Amateur Built aircraft you (or any one of those friends as long as they were not paid) may apply for the repairman's certificate for that airplane.
    Clarification: By "51% of the work," Neil is refering to the original construction of the aircraft. It does not refer to work you perform on a completed homebuilt (e.g., one with an airworthiness certificate) that you purchased. In other words, you can't get a Repairman Certificate by working on a flying homebuilt that you purchased.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neil View Post
    Like you I am a little foggy on some of the wording in the Light Sport arena but if the term Experimental is attached I would bet the above applies.
    Not precisely. Anyone can maintain an Experimental Light Sport aircraft, just like an Experimental Amateur-Build. The annual condition inspections of ELSAs must be performed either by a licensed A&P or the holder of a Light Sport - Inspector Repairman Certificate. Anyone (not just the builder) can take a 16-hour course and earn that type of Certificate, and can use it to perform the condition inspection on ANY ELSA that they own.

    In other words, if you buy an ELSA, you can take a course that will permit you to perform the condition inspections. That doesn't happen with Experimental Amateur Built repairman certificates; you must be associated with the building of THAT exact aircraft, like Neil says.

    Ron Wanttaja

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by rwanttaja View Post

    In other words, if you buy an ELSA, you can take a course that will permit you to perform the condition inspections. That doesn't happen with Experimental Amateur Built repairman certificates; you must be associated with the building of THAT exact aircraft, like Neil says.

    Ron Wanttaja
    So, other than weight and cruise speed, how else do you distinguish between a E-LSA and an E-AB? Is this classification solely determined by how the 601HD I purchase was registered originally by the builder?

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by AviatorKeith View Post
    Is this classification solely determined by how the 601HD I purchase was registered originally by the builder?
    No, the builder didn't have a choice when he registered the airplane. The 601HD is amateur built, as that's the only classification that fits.

    So, other than weight and cruise speed, how else do you distinguish between a E-LSA and an E-AB?
    An E-LSA is built from a kit that doesn't necessarily meet AB criteria and it's based on a model that conforms to LSA consensus standards.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by martymayes View Post
    No, the builder didn't have a choice when he registered the airplane. The 601HD is amateur built, as that's the only classification that fits.



    An E-LSA is built from a kit that doesn't necessarily meet AB criteria and it's based on a model that conforms to LSA consensus standards.
    Still confused because the 601HD is a kit that can be built to LSA standards.

  10. #10
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AviatorKeith View Post
    Still confused because the 601HD is a kit that can be built to LSA standards.
    It's due to a problem with FAA terminology, where they use the same phrase for a definition as the certification category.

    If you look in 14CFR Part 1, you'll see "Light Sport Aircraft" defined:

    Light-sport aircraft means an aircraft, other than a helicopter or powered-lift that, since its original certification, has continued to meet the following:

    (1) A maximum takeoff weight of not more thanó

    (i) 1,320 pounds (600 kilograms) for aircraft not intended for operation on water; or
    (ii) 1,430 pounds (650 kilograms) for an aircraft intended for operation on water.

    (2) A maximum airspeed in level flight with maximum continuous power (VH) of not more than 120 knots CAS under standard atmospheric conditions at sea level.
    (3)...

    The definition goes on with a total of thirteen defining characteristics of a Light Sport Airplane. This diagram sums it up:
    sportpilot.jpg


    What you won't see in there is ANYTHING related to certification, who can work on them, etc. That's because the "Light Sport Aircraft" is used to determine what a Sport Pilot is allowed to fly. ANY airplane, regardless of certification, meeting the Light Sport definition can be flown by a Sport Pilot.

    At the same time, the FAA instituted two new certification classes in the Special category: Special Light Sport Aircraft (SLSA) and Experimental Light Sport Aircraft (ELSA). These aircraft meet the Part 1 LSA definition; in addition, they are designed and constructed in accordance with an Industry standard.

    To gain certification as an Experimental Light Sport Aircraft, the manufacturer has to build an example of the airplane and prove that it complies with the requirements for Special Light Sport Aircraft. Once that is accomplished, the manufacturer can either sell the airplane ready-to-fly (Special Light Sport) or as a builder-assembled kit (Experimental Light Sport). The ELSA aircraft differ from the Experimental Amateur-Built category in that there is no "51%" rule. The seller of an ELSA kit can sell it at any level of completion.

    The big difference is that the builder of an ELSA is not allowed to make any deviations in the construction of the aircraft... if the original manufacturer used a Rotax 912, the builder must also use a Rotax 912 of the identical model. If the kit manufacturer installed an ICOM A200 radio, the ELSA builder must ALSO install an ICOM A200... and not add anything, either.

    Now, once the builder's ELSA is signed off by the FAA, that airplane is officially in the Experimental category, and the owner can make any changes they desire. But it must totally comply with the original aircraft at the time of certification.

    OK, how does this affect the Zenith CH601HD?

    The Zenith airplanes are Experimental Amateur-Built kits only. They meet the Part 1 definition of Light Sport Aircraft, hence they can be flown by Sport Pilots. However, they are licensed as Experimental Amateur-Built aircraft, and hence examples must comply with the "51% rule".

    A ready-to-fly SLSA version of the CH601HD is sold by Aircraft Design and Manufacturing. As far as I know, an ELSA kit is not available. However, the owner of an SLSA can change it to the ELSA category if desired.

    The best example of how it all works is the Vans RV-12. Vans designed the RV-12 in accordance with the rules for SLSA, got one example approved, and now sells ELSA RV-12 kits. However, Vans *also* got the RV-12 kits approved under the 51% rule for Experimental Amateur-Built. If you buy an RV-12 kit, you can build it EITHER as ELSA or EX-AB.

    The difference?

    If ELSA, you cannot deviate from the construction manual for any reason. Once you get an airworthiness certificate, you can then make changes. You can do all the maintenance yourself, and can attend a 16-hour course that allows you to perform the annual inspections on any ELSA that you own. If you sell the RV-12, the new owner can take the same course and will then be approved to perform annuals on the aircraft he purchased. Or, anyone can hire an A&P or a person holding a Light Sport Maintenance rating to do the annual.

    If you build it as Experimental Amateur-Built, you can deviate from the plans all you want, and, like the ELSA, you can do all the maintenance yourself once completed. As the builder, you can apply for a Repairman Certificate that permits you to perform the annual condition inspection *on that aircraft alone*. If you sell the completed aircraft, the new owner cannot receive a Repairman Certificate...he or she must either have you do the annuals, or hire an A&P to do them.

    Ron Wanttaja

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