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Thread: Odd Question: What can be N-numbered?

  1. #1

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    Odd Question: What can be N-numbered?

    I was having a conversation with someone about experimental vs ultralight rules (we were talking about Mini Max Ultralights), and he mentioned something I did not consider: what if an amateur-built ultralight is modified out of ultralight status, can it be N-numbered?

    It led me to think about some other scenarios that I am curious about:

    If someone were to build an ultralight, document it, fly it for 300 hours with a Rotax 337, and then replace that with a 503, could they register it at that point?

    If they did not document the build (but still built it)?

    If they did not modify it over 254lbs, could it still be registered?

    If they purchased it with the 337 and a build log, then added the 503?

    If they purchased it without a build log, but it is a model that was never built by a factory?



    This all spiraled into one last, odd hypothetical, could a pilot, pursuing an ATP license, build a backpack style powered parachute, have it N-numbered, get a Powered Paraglider Sport pilot license and log that time toward total time for 61.159 flight requirements (as long as they meet the other flight requirements?

    For the record, I don't plan to do this, and I expect a regional would hesitate before hiring someone with 1500 hours TT with 500 hours logged in a parachute. I'm just curious if it meets the FAA requirements.
    Looking to buy my first airplane, message me if you have a nice trainer or experimental for sale.

  2. #2
    Mel's Avatar
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    Any of these examples may be certificated as an Experimental Amateur-Built Aircraft, IF it can be shown to be amateur-built. There must be SOME form of documentation acceptable to the inspector. A signed and notarized form 8130-12 must be part of that documentation.

  3. #3
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    You'll need not just to have built it for "recreation or education" purposes but show some minimum standards. You can't just register any piece of flying junk as E-AB.

    If the mods don't invalidate the part 103 restrictions, there's no registration or experimental certificate needed.

    Just because it was never "factory produced" doesn't make it legal E-AB. You still have to show that the plane was primarily constructed for educational or recreational purposes. Frankly, with something like an ex-UL, you can probably disassemble it enough to convince the inspector that you did a majority of the tasks.

    There's not any longer a path for converting fat (or two seat) ultralights to light sport directly. That ship sailed long ago.

  4. #4
    Dana's Avatar
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    You can register an ultralight, fat or not, even if it has already flown, as E-AB provided you have the build documentation showing that it was indeed amateur built, and provided that it wasn't so prefabricated by a kit manufacturer that it's just a bolt together assembly (< 51%). AC103-7 talks about this.

    You can't register a backpack powered paraglider because the rules now say it must have a landing gear, and they don't mean feet.

  5. #5
    DaleB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana View Post
    You can't register a backpack powered paraglider because the rules now say it must have a landing gear, and they don't mean feet.
    "Hey, my landing gear is from Van's..."
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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingRon View Post
    ...but show some minimum standards. You can't just register any piece of flying junk as E-AB...
    Not to argue, but can you point me towards a specific part of 14CFR49 that describes the minimum standards?

    My understanding has been that if the paperwork is in order, if you offer compelling evidence that the major portion rule was observed, if the operating limitations are clearly spelled out and the handles are marked, the N-number and EXPERIMENTAL placard per the regs, then the FAA cannot deny you a special airworthiness certificate for the operation of an amateur-built aircraft. They might drag their feet, they might assign you an onerous Phase I test area (like a one mile radius around Ely NV, operations only to be conducted between noon and 12:30pm, etc), but they cannot deny you the certificate. That's as I understand it, but I'd be glad to hear of specific rules or counterexamples that contradict my understanding.

    The rationale I've heard for this approach is that the FAA specifically wants to stay out of the business of doing any engineering evaluation or validation of homebuilts, and they'll stay well away from the slippery slope to do that.

    Mind you, I'm not proposing that registering a broom or a bicycle as an amateur-built experimental is a good or prudent or rational thing to do. Just that you can do it if you are persistent and somewhat bloody-minded.

    --Bob K.
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  7. #7
    EAA Staff Joda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoKu View Post
    Not to argue, but can you point me towards a specific part of 14CFR49 that describes the minimum standards?
    Bob,

    You are correct. There are no "standards" that apply to experimental aircraft. The criteria is "condition for safe operation". Sometimes the applicant and the inspector have to do some negotiating to come to an agreement as to what "condition for safe operation" includes or implies, but there are no standards that can be applied. There are many kits that included items that are not in line with traditional aviation standards, but that doens't make the aircraft ineligible for an airworthiness certificate. The only overarching requirement is "condition for safe operation". How you achieve that may take many different paths.
    Cheers!

    Joe

  8. #8
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    They're going to want to be assured of some minimum flight safety and compliance with things like 91.205 (even if it just says STANDARD).

  9. #9
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    The Operating Limitations for an aircraft with an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate state that it does not need to comply with FAR 91.205 unless it will be operated at night or in IMC. Daylight VFR operations do not require any instrumentation. Joe correctly stated that there are no minimum flight safety standards that can be enforced per FARs.
    Last edited by Sam Buchanan; 04-11-2019 at 09:28 PM.
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  10. #10

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    What about seat belts? (91.107)

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