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Thread: How many experimentals in the U.S.

  1. #1

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    How many experimentals in the U.S.

    I searched a few things unsuccessfully, so I thought i would ask here. Does anyone know how many experimental planes are currently registered in the U.S.?

    More specifically, how many people have completed and registered an experimental Plane? Any help would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by ChuckH View Post
    I searched a few things unsuccessfully, so I thought i would ask here. Does anyone know how many experimental planes are currently registered in the U.S.?

    More specifically, how many people have completed and registered an experimental Plane? Any help would be appreciated.
    I looked at the numbers about three months back; there were about 27,500 Experimental Amateur-Built aircraft on the FAA registry. There were another ~6,000 aircraft with homebuilt-like names that were not identified as Experimental Amateur-Built.

    Remember, though, there is no way to tell how many have been "completed," just registered. Many homebuilts are registered prior to completion.

    The FAA re-registration program led to the canceling of about 7,500 homebuilt registrations; mostly airplanes that were registerered years ago.

    (I discussed the effect of re-registration at: http://eaaforums.org/showthread.php?...e-Registration)

    When I get home tonight, I'll crank up the databases and determine how many total homebuilts have been deregistered (the number above is just since October 2010).

    Ron Wanttaja
    Last edited by rwanttaja; 01-20-2014 at 02:53 PM. Reason: Correct a number, added link

  3. #3

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    Thanks Ron...that was a big help. I followed your other thread and you've obviously done a bit of research on this. My bottom line need is to determine what percentage of the U.S. population has ever started and completed an E-AB project. Plans or kits, it doesn't matter. I know it's going to be a very small percentage, but I was writing something and wanted to throw in a ballpark number.

  4. #4
    OK, Chuck, here's what I get. I've got the 30 December 2013 copy of the FAA Registration database:

    27,964 aircraft in the registry licensed as Experimental Amateur-Built.

    5,780 additional aircraft have homebuilt-like names ("RV-8", "Lancair 320") but their airworthiness entries were blank.

    10,671 aircraft that are in the Deregistered aircraft list were licensed as Experimental Amateur-Built. I'm estimating that another 4,000-5,000 deregistered homebuilts had blank airworthiness entries.

    So: My estimate is that roughly 48,000 homebuilts have been licensed in the US since the Experimental Amateur-Built category was created in the early '50s. Probably could round that up to an even 50K.

    Ron Wanttaja

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by rwanttaja View Post
    10,671 aircraft that are in the Deregistered aircraft list were licensed as Experimental Amateur-Built. I'm estimating that another 4,000-5,000 deregistered homebuilts had blank airworthiness entries.
    Interesting. I think my estimate was significantly off.

    Prior to the deregistration effort, I'd counted about 11,000 aircraft without airworthiness status as probable Experimental Amateur-Built aircraft. As of the last download, the list was about 4 to 5K lower.

    However, this did not account for homebuilts deregistered prior to the start of the FAA re-registration effort. I'm actually getting about 15,900 deregistered homebuilts...10,000 more than I had originally guessed! So the actual number of registered homebuilts is ~55,000 to 60,000.

    While I'm at it, let me explain this "probable Experimental Amateur Built" concept.

    The FAA registration download uses a lot of codes to denote certain things. The "Master" list, in fact, doesn't show the aircraft make or model...just codes that one can use to look up in a separate file.

    The aircraft certification status is shown by such codes. It's normally a two-or-three-digit value. A "1" means the aircraft has standard airworthiness, an "N" means normal category. So a typical production aircraft might have a "1N" code under "Certification."

    "4" means Experimental, with "41" meaning Experimental R&D, "42" meaning Experimental Amateur-Built, "43" is Experimental Exhibition, etc.

    However, not every aircraft has an entry in the Certification field. Out of almost 320,000 registered aircraft at the end of 2013, almost 25,000 had blanks in the Certification field. Some are production airplanes, but as I mention above, from looking at the list, almost 16,000 are homebuilt types.

    So when the FAA announces how many homebuilts there are in the US, these are not counted.

    Ron Wanttaja

  6. #6
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    Yeah, there are some goofy fields in the database. There's also ones missing years. We dig through a half a dozen or so oddballs every year when looking up people trying to park in the Vintage area.

  7. #7

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    Ron,

    not sure how reliable the blog was. But I have read before when no certification code is in the FAA database it means one of three items.
    1. The plane has not be granted airworthy status, e.g. Usually still under construction
    2. Plane built before certification
    3. Plane type certificate and other information lost or no longer readable.

    At one point all records were paper and the conversion was not umm, perfect due to the age of some of the paper.
    in terms of under construction, the blog said you have to be careful, Beech, Cirrus and Cessna all reserve blocks which are in the master list.

    Tim

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by tspear View Post
    not sure how reliable the blog was. But I have read before when no certification code is in the FAA database it means one of three items.
    1. The plane has not be granted airworthy status, e.g. Usually still under construction
    2. Plane built before certification
    3. Plane type certificate and other information lost or no longer readable.

    At one point all records were paper and the conversion was not umm, perfect due to the age of some of the paper.
    in terms of under construction, the blog said you have to be careful, Beech, Cirrus and Cessna all reserve blocks which are in the master list.
    That all sounds reasonable, Tim. I think #1 is a significant reason why homebuilts end up with blanks for certification code. In most of the cases with homebuilts, all the other columns are filled out normally (with the exception of engine types... which actually helps confirm the theory).

    The problem is, I don't think there's a consistent process to update the entry after the plane flies. As I've mentioned in other postings, I've got a friend who made the first flight of his RV-6 about 25 years ago. It's *still* listed with a blank for certification. Even worse, it's had two minor crashes (after my friend sold it) so it's counted as two homebuilt accidents without being counted even once toward the total number of homebuilts.

    I cross-reference the NTSB accident database with the FAA registration database to confirm the "homebuilts" identified by the NTSB are truly homebuilts. For my 2012 analysis, a quarter of the airplanes (54) didn't have entries in the FAA certification column. And nearly half of those (20) were shown with more than 100 hours aircraft time. One had over 1,000 hours.

    On the reverse side, I once noted a homebuilt that crashed on its first flight...yet I tracked its registration back a number of years, with a definitive entry as a EX-AB aircraft (e.g., #1 should have applied, but didn't). The policy just isn't consistent.

    There is another code in the registration listings, "Status Code", which gives some additional information, such as that the N-number is reserved, but the airplane is not yet registered. Again, though, it's hard to know how often these are updated.

    Ron Wanttaja

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by rwanttaja View Post
    The problem is, I don't think there's a consistent process to update the entry after the plane flies. As I've mentioned in other postings, I've got a friend who made the first flight of his RV-6 about 25 years ago. It's *still* listed with a blank for certification. Even worse, it's had two minor crashes (after my friend sold it) so it's counted as two homebuilt accidents without being counted even once toward the total number of homebuilts.

    I cross-reference the NTSB accident database with the FAA registration database to confirm the "homebuilts" identified by the NTSB are truly homebuilts. For my 2012 analysis, a quarter of the airplanes (54) didn't have entries in the FAA certification column. And nearly half of those (20) were shown with more than 100 hours aircraft time. One had over 1,000 hours.

    On the reverse side, I once noted a homebuilt that crashed on its first flight...yet I tracked its registration back a number of years, with a definitive entry as a EX-AB aircraft (e.g., #1 should have applied, but didn't). The policy just isn't consistent.

    There is another code in the registration listings, "Status Code", which gives some additional information, such as that the N-number is reserved, but the airplane is not yet registered. Again, though, it's hard to know how often these are updated.

    Ron Wanttaja
    If this is truly the case with registrations, it’s in the best interest of all segments in aviation to lobby our elected officials to hold the FAA accountable. There can be no truthful statistics written anywhere about any class on any subject if any aircraft is not classified correctly. How can a governing body justify rules and regulations based on false statistics? O’ that’s how government works now, answered my own question.

    Sorry should have kept my mouth shut. NSA please leave me alone. I love my country.
    Last edited by middlebrook04; 01-22-2014 at 08:36 AM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by middlebrook04 View Post
    If this is truly the case with registrations, itís in the best interest of all segments in aviation to lobby our elected officials to hold the FAA accountable. There can be no truthful statistics written anywhere about any class on any subject if any aircraft is not classified correctly. How can a governing body justify rules and regulations based on false statistics?
    But note the reaction when the FAA *did* take action to correct and update the aircraft registration database. Huge amount of condemnation. The Feds can't catch a break....

    I dislike the inaccuracies of the data, but understand that we're talking about a manual-file-card system converted to electronic, with all the problems inherent with such actions. I'd love it if the FAA used the recurring re-registration process to correct/update individual entries, but that would require manual checking of owner inputs. Only so much work you get, for $5. :-)

    Ron Wanttaja

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