The US Federal Aviation Administration is drawing up guidelines, which will clarify the rules governing the assembly and approval of kit-built aircraft. The move follows concern that amateur-built rules were being circumvented by some "builder-assist" shops set up to help kit buyers complete their aircraft.

The FAA emphasises that it is happy with the amateur-built programme, which requires buyers to perform the "major portion" (usually interpreted as 51%) of the work required to complete the aircraft to qualify for experimental-category approval. Proof is required, in the form of a logbook, with photographs, detailing the assembly process.

The entry into the market of more-sophisticated kitplanes, which appeal to a broader audience but are beyond the capabilities of many first-time builders, has led to the emergence of builder-assist shops. The FAA says that most of these legitimately provide hangar space, tooling and tuition to kit builders, but some have been completing the aircraft.

Mike Gallagher, manager of the FAA's production and airworthiness division, says that the agency wants to prevent kit buyers being misled into believing that they can gain FAA approval for an aircraft which has been completed professionally. The FAA also wants to stamp out the practice of applicants seeking amateur-built approval with faked logbooks.

Guidelines to be available early in 1995 will provide FAA regional offices responsible for approving amateur-built aircraft with clearer guidance, Gallagher says.

Source: Flight International