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  1. #1

    Phase One Flight Test

    Question...is there any regulation concerning the overall airworthiness of an EAB aircraft for Phase One? If the subject aircraft has inoperative systems, or installed items that are broken / malfunctioning, is it legal to continue to fly the aircraft without any repairs being made?

    This particular aircraft was inspected, found to be airworthy, and issued a conditional airworthiness certificate.

    At a later date, multiple safety related mechanical problems arose.

    Still legal to fly without repairs made, or illegal?

  2. #2

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    I ain't no lawyer ner nuthin'... but.... I sure as heckfire wouldn't board an airplane of any kind that was KNOWN to have "multiple safety related mechanical problems" that were left unattended. But that's just silly old me..
    Last edited by CHICAGORANDY; 08-23-2021 at 04:43 PM.
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  3. #3
    Airmutt's Avatar
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    That was a pretty broad brushed question. The obvious answer is ALL Safety of Flight items need to be addressed prior to flight. Non safety of flight items needs to be prioritized. I.E. cracked plexiglass may not be a SOF item but probably needs to be addressed quickly to prevent the crack from propagating. If there is doubt, err on the conservative side.
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  4. #4
    I can go through and list the items.
    First off, the flaps are broken. Will not lock in any position. You can freely move them by hand, up and/or down.
    Phase One fly off...fly, or ground the airplane?

  5. #5
    Tralika's Avatar
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    If the FAA has the catch all "91.13 (a) Careless or reckless operation" that can be used in almost any circumstance. I don't think they would have a problem making a case against a pilot that flies a plane with critical systems that are known inop. As for flying with inop flaps I suppose it would depend on the plane. There are planes that won't take off without flaps but most planes will. Any plane that has flaps will land without them, it just takes a lot of runway. The question is, why wouldn't the pilot fix the problem before flying? Is the plan to just fly the plane indefinitely without flaps? If the plan is to fix the flaps future, why not fix them now? Fix now or later it will take the same amount of time and money. There is no time limit on when the Phase 1 flight testing must be completed. The appropriate course of action is not too hard to figure out.

  6. #6
    Eric Page's Avatar
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    Flight control malfunctions are a BIG DEAL to the FAA and NTSB. Flaps that can move through their range of motion without any pilot control sounds extremely dangerous to me, but I've never flown the plane you're asking about. Personally, I wouldn't dream of flying any aircraft that had a known flight control malfunction like that, and I would expect the FAA to take a very dim view of anyone who did.
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  7. #7
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TXFlyGuy View Post
    Question...is there any regulation concerning the overall airworthiness of an EAB aircraft for Phase One? If the subject aircraft has inoperative systems, or installed items that are broken / malfunctioning, is it legal to continue to fly the aircraft without any repairs being made?

    This particular aircraft was inspected, found to be airworthy, and issued a conditional airworthiness certificate.

    At a later date, multiple safety related mechanical problems arose.

    Still legal to fly without repairs made, or illegal?
    It looks like your original question has not been addressed or answered.

    In my opinion....it is legal to fly an aircraft with an experimental airworthiness certificate in any condition. The aircraft doesn't have a type certificate to which it must comply.

    Legal, yes. Prudent, absolutely not.

    Having said that, the FAA could probably interpret several FARs to bring action against the pilot if it could be determined he put people on the ground at risk by flying an aircraft with known and documented safety issues. But this would be action taken against the pilot, not the aircraft.
    Sam Buchanan
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Buchanan View Post
    It looks like your original question has not been addressed or answered.

    In my opinion....it is legal to fly an aircraft with an experimental airworthiness certificate in any condition. The aircraft doesn't have a type certificate to which it must comply.

    Legal, yes. Prudent, absolutely not.

    Having said that, the FAA could probably interpret several FARs to bring action against the pilot if it could be determined he put people on the ground at risk by flying an aircraft with known and documented safety issues. But this would be action taken against the pilot, not the aircraft.

    Two CFR's are in play here, and there is no exemption for EAB aircraft.
    91.213 (a)
    91.13

  9. #9
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TXFlyGuy View Post
    Two CFR's are in play here, and there is no exemption for EAB aircraft.
    91.213 (a)
    91.13
    FAR 91.213 (a)

    Nope. No instruments required for experimental aircraft operated day VFR. This is per the aircraft operating limitations which are part of the airworthiness certificate package.

    FAR 91.13

    Yep, as I stated above the FAA could bring action against the pilot, but not the aircraft.

    I realize the ambiguity associated with many aspects of the amatuer-built experimental realm are difficult to accept when viewed through the prism of certificated aircraft regulations. But in regards to "safety problems" with this particular experimental aircraft:

    1) The aircraft has a valid experimental airworthiness certificate

    2) It is the pilot's responsibility to determine if the aircraft is in a condition for safe operation.

    Oops....you didn't tell us if the aircraft had a condition inspection in the previous twelve months. If yes, we proceed with this discussion. If not....full stop, the aircraft is not legal for flight.

    3) In regard to components not being safe for flight; what checklist would we use to make the determination if the aircraft is safe for flight? There isn't one because it doesn't have to comply with a type certificate.

    Yes, the experimental realm is sort of like the wild, wild west and is dependent on pilots making good decisions, not an over-arching set of regulations as is found in the certificated universe.

    But....regardless of legality I regret the loss of your beautiful aircraft, hope the pilot was not injured. And whatever I state as opinion has absolutely no importance if the FAA and lawyers are involved.....but you did ask for opinions.
    Last edited by Sam Buchanan; 08-24-2021 at 10:18 AM.
    Sam Buchanan
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  10. #10
    91.213 - Inoperative Instruments and Equipment


    This is the violation. Equipment was broken, not simply inoperative. The equipment that the POH clearly states to use during takeoff and landing. The equipment the POH states to use when making an emergency landing.

    All instruments worked fine. The entire electrical system malfunctioned.

    Sure...if you were the PIC, of course you will argue that even with all of the broken and malfunctioning installed equipment, you thought the aircraft was safe to fly.
    Even a jury of idiots will not buy that. And neither will the FAA attorneys.

    Which brings us right back to 91.13.

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