So You Wanna Build an Airplane?
In the January, 2013 edition of Sport Aviation, there is an article by Budd Davisson, "So You Wanna Build an Airplane?" In the article Mr. Davisson says about photographs of the building of the experimental airplane, "Just be sure a good number of them have you in them doing something at various points in the build, and be sure to have the date-stamp feature of the camera turned on ..." Is this official FAA policy that will be enforced rigorously by either an FAA inspector or DAR, or is it the opinion of the author?
The reason I ask is that I have already completed all of the tail section of my home build. During that build, I didn't have the date-stamp feature turned on for some of the photos. Neither did I take more than a few shots that have me in the photos since I think the partially-completed hardware is more important than I am.
So, do I now have to scrap the horizontal and vertical stabilizers, elevators and rudder that I built, buy a new set of aluminum stock and components from the vendor and build another set of the same thing to ensure that I have numerous pictures of me doing the building, all rigorously date-stamped in accordance with the dictates of the article in Sport Aviation?
The requirement is for you to be able to provide sufficient documentation to prove that 51% of the aircraft was amateur built. Turn the date stamp on for future photos and you'll be fine. My whole build log was about 10 rolls of 35mm prints. That, and being able to talk intelligently about the build, was more than adequate for the DAR I used.
Originally Posted by Bill
Budd's article was advice, not limited to what the FAA requires. Build a Pietenpol and the FAA isn't going to care. Show up with a Lancair IV, and the inspector may suspect that the airplane was built by a "hired gun" and demand a higher level of proof that you did, indeed, construct the aircraft.
If you're building just about anything popular (e.g., high resale value), and have excellent workmanship, the inspector may well suspect non-amateur construction. Unless you can convince the inspector that you did, personally, build the aircraft, you're going to be left with a pile of aircraft junk (though Experimental Exhibition is a possibility). Remember, the FAA has been clamping down on such operations.
If the inspector DOES suspect a hired gun, it'd be nice to have evidence to the contrary. A shot of the builder showing the first part he made. Date stamps on the photos, showing a period of construction commensurate with amateur construction. Creases and tears in the builder's manual, vs. a pristine book. One inspector said he even expected drops of blood in the manual, here and there (BTDT).
You probably won't need the evidence...but if you do, you'll really wish you had it.
Kyle's comment about "being able to talk intelligently about the build" is good, as well. The inspectors visit quite a few projects desiring certification, and they expect the alleged builder to be able to walk through the photo album and discuss what was happening when the photo was taken. If you can explain what each photo shows, the lack of date-stamping won't be important.
I'll echo what Ron & Kyle say above. My DAR paid me two visits - one the day after my plane got to the hangar, which was before the wings were on (no charge for this), and the second was the official inspection.
During the inspection, I had my builder log present. I said to him, "Do you want to see the pictures with me making the parts?" He said that he didn't need to see them, because it was obvious from talking with him, and seeing the plane before it was buttoned-up, that he was confident I was the actual builder.
But, as the others have said, it's best to have that evidence with you. Kind of like being on the ground and wishing you were up in the air vs being in the air and wishing you were on the ground!
If you want more detail on what the FAA is looking for in the way of photos you might want to check out this publication: http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/gen_av/u...st_Job_Aid.pdf
The EAA Homebuilt Aircraft Council is working to get some of the photo requirements clarified, and in some cases reduced or eliminated, especially for older kits. In the mean time do the best you can with where you are on your project right now. Don't forget the before and after photo requirement now in the guidelines, and do be sure to get yourself in some of the photos.
A special note, if you are planning to buy a partially completed kit from someone else you really need to be sure you get their photos and builder log with your purchase. If you don't you could have real problems later.
Just write the approximate date you took the pictures if you are worried about it. Have plenty of receipts for raw material and be able to tell him what you did. Shouldn't be a problem at all convincing an inspector/dar that you built over 50% of the airplane.