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Thread: Experimental 51% Rule

  1. #1

    Experimental 51% Rule

    I am considering ordering a Rans S21 kit. Although I've researched the topic on Experimental aircraft, I'm still somewhat confused on the 51% rule. I'm a Canadian and may not have the time to complete 51% of the project myself, so it might require hiring someone else to help me build it. The question is, if I don't build 51% of it, what issues do I run into it if I want to sell into the American market?

  2. #2
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    The 51% "rule" doesn't only says that ONE PERSON has to build 51% of the aircraft, just that "amateur builders" (i.e., not the kit manufacturer) perform 51% of the tasks. But your issue (if I understand you correctly) is you intend to certify as a Canadian Amateur Built aircraft and then possibly sell to a buyer who would like to register it in the US. If that is the case, here is the guidance for getting that registration approved: https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/.../AC_20-27G.pdf

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    melann's Avatar
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    Bringing an amateur-built aircraft into the U.S. from Canada requires the same 51% rule as if the aircraft were built here. You must be able to show proof that the aircraft was at least 51% amateur-built. It doesn't matter who or how many builders are involved as long as the major portion was fabricated and assembled by amateurs. i.e. Not paid assistance.
    Mel, DAR since the Last Century, Specializing in Light-Sport and Experimental Aircraft.

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    Since you specifically said: "I'll be hiring someone to else to help me build it" the major portion rule for registration as an E-A/B in the US may be in jeopardy. Keep accurate build records and use the US FAA Advisory Circular checklist.

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    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    Note that it's not 51% of the time to build the thing, it's 51% of the tasks. And note that the Rans approval is already predicated on some percentage of the tasks were already done, so you can't just do 51% of what's left.

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    Aviatrexx's Avatar
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    There is no "51% rule" per se. There is the requirement that the majority of the construction be "amateur-built". My DAR explained it this way: the "majority amateur-built" criteria applies primarily to the kit's design, not to how it was fabricated. It is the kit manufacturer who has to document to the FAA that their design requires that someone else must perform the majority of the tasks necessary to produce an airworthy aircraft. So there is quite a bit of latitude. You can have it professionally painted, You may pay someone to fabricate and install the interior. You really should have a professional install your G-8000 (is that what they're up to now?) avionics and ejection seat. Such "assistance" does not count against you, presumably because you (the amateur) "supervised" the task.

    The tasks guidelines can be, and are frequently, abused. In theory, if you drill, countersink, drive and buck a rivet, you have acquired the knowledge and experience necessary to perform the "rivet task"; you can let someone with more skill do the rest. To my way of thinking, that subverts the entire philosophy of amateur-building, but I know it happens. For certain very popular kits, there are companies that will take delivery of your crates and, with a bare minimum of participation by you, build and document it for you. This skates on the razor's edge of the E-AB intent, but for a sizeable additional expense, you are assured an excellent aircraft.

    For me, it was a matter of personal enjoyment and pride that I did it all myself.

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    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    There's not a "rule" in that it's codified by regulation, but it's the guidance the FAA uses to "approve" kit construction. Some of the kit manufacturers were pretty slick on bending the 51% rule as Aviatrexx said. You'd get kits where you did one rivet's worth of work and knock off a bunch of tasks even though there lots of other rivets already in place.

  8. #8
    EAA Staff Joda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aviatrexx View Post
    . This skates on the razor's edge of the E-AB intent, but for a sizeable additional expense, you are assured an excellent aircraft.....
    ...or not. I've seen a few examples of aircraft built by these "pro builders" that were pure hack jobs. Just because someone hangs out a shingle and claims to be a "pro builder" doesn't make them a craftsman. If one is contemplating going that route, you'd best do your homework lest you end up with something you're not happy with.

    As a DAR, I try to ferret out these aircraft by questioning the builder and looking hard at their builder logs. The more evasive and unsure they are about certain things, the more I suspect that something is up. It hasn't happened yet on any of the aircraft I have inspected, but there certainly could be a case where use of a pro builder could lead to a denial of the amateur-built certificate. Go carefully!
    Cheers!

    Joe

  9. #9
    melann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joda View Post
    ...or not. I've seen a few examples of aircraft built by these "pro builders" that were pure hack jobs. Just because someone hangs out a shingle and claims to be a "pro builder" doesn't make them a craftsman. If one is contemplating going that route, you'd best do your homework lest you end up with something you're not happy with.
    As a DAR, I try to ferret out these aircraft by questioning the builder and looking hard at their builder logs. The more evasive and unsure they are about certain things, the more I suspect that something is up. It hasn't happened yet on any of the aircraft I have inspected, but there certainly could be a case where use of a pro builder could lead to a denial of the amateur-built certificate. Go carefully!
    I have denied one where the airframe was claimed to have been built by the kit manufacturer. There were also other contributing factors.
    I have refused to accept applications from several that I knew were built by "Hired guns".
    Mel, DAR since the Last Century, Specializing in Light-Sport and Experimental Aircraft.

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