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June 29, 2009

Ask the DAR: Amateur-builts and flight instruction…oil and water?

Question: Can I use my Experimental/Amateur-Built aircraft for instruction?

Answer: Actually, this is an operational issue, not a certification issue. But I will try to answer if you promise not to hold me accountable. I contacted my good friend Alex DeDominicis for information regarding these operations. Alex has been one of the transition instructors for RV type aircraft for quite some time. For more information, you may visit Alex’s web site at

Getting instruction in your Experimental/Amateur-Built? It’s not a problem, but charging for transition training of a non-owner pilot requires a specific operational exemption

The operating limitations issued with amateur-built aircraft explicitly state that the aircraft can not be used to carry persons or property for compensation or hire. This does not mean that it cannot be used for instruction; it simply means that you cannot charge for it. You can certainly receive instruction from someone in your homebuilt aircraft. You can even give someone instruction in your aircraft as long as you don’t charge for it. Now, having made that last statement, I need to add: Don’t try to charge for it and hide the charges by calling them something else. Whatever you come up with has already been tried—trust me! And the Feds frown vehemently on things like this.

Now if you are a CFI and want to give transition training for hire in your amateur-built aircraft, there is another route for you. You may apply for a Letter of Deviation Authority from your local FAA FSDO (Flight Standards District Office) that will allow you to charge for instruction in your aircraft. The wording in these LODAs may vary slightly among FSDOs, but typically it will allow you to do transition training in your specific aircraft and does not include primary training. Be aware that this not a regulation, but an authority to operate outside of the regulations. It is my understanding that these LODAs are not issued without extensive investigation of the applicant and the aircraft, and the aircraft are required to receive 100-hour inspections just as if they were a standard certificated aircraft.

Please send your questions for DAR Asberry to with “Ask the DAR” in the subject line.

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