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Thread: Signing Off on a Homebuild

  1. #1

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    Signing Off on a Homebuild

    New to home build, kit,experimental world, so I have a dumb question for you all.............if I was and IA, why would I want to take the risk and liability and sign off a kit plane?

    Just wondering because I love to build things and some day want to build a kit plane.

    thanks

  2. #2
    Auburntsts's Avatar
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    Bighorn,
    First, when you say sign off, are you referring to the annual condition inspection? If so, the builder who holds the Repairman's Certificate for that specifc aircraft or any A&P (IA not required) can sign off the condition inspection unlike the standard certified world that requires an IA. Second, IMO the risk for the sign off is no different than the risk for the sign-off of a standard certificated aircraft's annual. The question is do you feel comfortable signing off on systems and construction techniques (ie composite vs sheet metal) for which you have limted or no familiarization with?
    Todd Stovall
    Aka tsts4 on POA & Matronics, and Auburntsts on VAF, RV Airspace, AOPA, & Purple Pilots
    PP ASEL
    Building an RV-10 N728TT
    My builder's log (which is woefully out of date): www.mykitlog.com/auburntsts
    WAR DAMN EAGLE!

  3. #3
    Anymouse's Avatar
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    Man, where's that popcorn smiley when I need one???

    First, unlike annual inspections of production aircraft, a condition inspection on an amateur built plane does not need an IA signature. An A&P or Repairman can sign it off. Just wanted to make that clarification.

    A&Ps and IAs are paid to exercise discretion and judgement. Any A&P or IA that signs off any aircraft, be it an inspection or maintenance of some kind, is taking a risk. That signature is basically them saying everything is safe and legal. If they're not comfortable with assuming that risk, then they don't have to do the sign off.

    So, to answer your question (and I'll assume in this case and A&P and IA are the same), these people do it because it's there job and they're paid to do it. There are several A&Ps that will not touch an experimental. That is their choice. However, there are way more that will work on an experimental on a case by case basis. Again, if they're not comfortable, it is well within their discretion to refuse the work. Unless the thing is a basket case type death trap, an A&P can be normally be found to assist you.

    All that being said, there is the case of Repairmen. If you build the plane, you are more than likely eligible to get a Repairman certificate that will allow you to sign off annual condition inspections on that airplane only. In this case, you only need to consult with an A&P when you feel the need.

    For the record, I've never had a problem getting an A&P to help me out with my Tango. But then again, I hold a Repairman certificate for my Tango and make it clear that it's my name going on the logbook entry.
    I'll come up with something profound

  4. #4

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    Anymouse I hope your popcorn comment was meant to be a tongue in cheek one........the learning curve is different for everyone here and I believe it is a place for all to learn more no matter how educated we have become.

    As I stated to begin with I'm "NEW" to the home build areana however not a new pilot. I have assited on my own airplane annuals many years with my A&P IA.

    It is the family of the dead that will go back on the A&P. He may be very good at Certfied aircraft but little knowledge on kit planes.

    I was hoping for a bit more of a constructive comment. Maybe if there are some seasoned "A&P's or IA's" that care to comment it would be much appreciated.

    Thanks

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bighorn View Post
    It is the family of the dead that will go back on the A&P. He may be very good at Certfied aircraft but little knowledge on kit planes.

    I was hoping for a bit more of a constructive comment. Maybe if there are some seasoned "A&P's or IA's" that care to comment it would be much appreciated.

    Thanks
    If you want to build an airplane, I think you should go for it Bighorn. After you build your airplane, an FAA inspector or Designated Airworthiness Inspector (DAR) signs the paperwork to make it legal. After that, it needs a once-a-year condition inspection which can be performed by the builder if he applies for and receives a repairman certificate. Otherwise, any willing A&P can perform the inspection. I don't have any qualms about signing off a homebuilt. For one, nothing says it has to be an an "airworthy condition" like a certificated airplane. It just has to appear to be safe. I don't think the liability exposure is no where near that of a certificated airplane.
    Last edited by martymayes; 11-02-2011 at 03:22 PM.

  6. #6

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    When you read the letter of limitations you will see that the requirements of the inspections is the same as the minimum of an annual on any certified aircraft. and the sign off is almost the same as required under FAR 43 for an annual. So, why not do them. OBTW any A&P can do the inspection and the owner or operator can help just like a real aircraft. (yeah I know that was a joke)

  7. #7
    Anymouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bighorn View Post
    Anymouse I hope your popcorn comment was meant to be a tongue in cheek one........the learning curve is different for everyone here and I believe it is a place for all to learn more no matter how educated we have become.

    As I stated to begin with I'm "NEW" to the home build arena however not a new pilot. I have assisted on my own airplane annuals many years with my A&P IA.

    It is the family of the dead that will go back on the A&P. He may be very good at Certified aircraft but little knowledge on kit planes.

    I was hoping for a bit more of a constructive comment. Maybe if there are some seasoned "A&P's or IA's" that care to comment it would be much appreciated.

    Thanks

    Sorry, the popcorn comment was definitely tongue in cheek. It just looked like this was ripe for a good controversial thread. (Check other aviation forums for High Wing vs. Low Wing, Tailwheel vs. Nose Wheel, Slipping with Flaps, etc.)

    As far as the other stuff I posted, it was all supposed to be educational.
    I'll come up with something profound

  8. #8

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    Right to the fun stuff:

    High Wing vs. Low Wing: Biplane. Best and worst of both worlds.

    Tailwheel vs. Nose Wheel: Tailwheel. Don't be a pansy.

    Slipping with Flaps: Slipping is good for the soul regardless of flaps. See Tailwheel.

    On topic:

    It comes down to what the A&P is signing for. Has all maintenance according to the POH been done? Are there signs of damage to the aircraft? They're not putting forth any guarantee that a plane won't break down - they're signing that to the best of their knowledge at the time of inspection, the aircraft had met the scheduled maintenance and inspection requirements. No more, no less.

    Just like when a DAR issues a flight worthiness certificate. He has only a rough idea if the darned thing is going to be an uncontrollable mess in the air or not! If one has followed the plans (even if self designed) and has a reasonable level of craftsmanship he's going to give it a "go." I'll bet money there are DAR's that have given out certificates on planes they wouldn't pilot or ride in - but they passed because there was no compelling reason to down check them.

    Ditto the Doctor that issues flight exams. We've all heard stories of guys passing their physicals and having heart attacks the next day. It's not the doctor's fault - during the hour in the exam room the guy was okay; and that's all he really attested to.
    Last edited by Frank Giger; 11-03-2011 at 04:28 AM.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  9. #9
    Chad Jensen's Avatar
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    Welcome to EAA Forums bighorn! Your question is one that we frequently answer, and always a good topic of discussion. Good to have you here!
    Chad Jensen
    EAA #755575

  10. #10

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    When we built our Starlite, there was no I A involved. We checked off the steps in the plans and directions as we did them, and had some photos of the stages. When it was done, an inspector from the FAA came out and spent an hour or so looking it over and signed it off as ready for test flight. We had to fly 20 hours before leaving the area.
    The FAA rep may have been an A & P or an I A, don't really know. His signoff does not promise that the plane will fly well or even safe, just that it is built in an acceptable manner, things like welds, and safety wire, etc.

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