Ask the DAR

Paid instruction, and going from certified to Experimental class.


Question: In the May 2009 issue, you made the following statement: You can certainly receive instruction from someone in your homebuilt aircraft. Can the owner/builder of an Experimental/Amateur-Built, LSA-compliant aircraft receive paid instruction from a licensed flight instructor, or a paid practical exam from a licensed flight examiner using the owner/builders plane? He would not receive payments nor would he have any income from this instruction or testing, and might therefore receive the Sport Pilot license with the use of his own LSA.

Answer: In a word, yes! As long as you do not receive compensation for the aircraft, you are good to go. You may pay an instructor to train you in your aircraft, and you may pay an examiner to conduct flight tests with you. These payments will be going to the instructor and/or examiner and no compensation for the use of the aircraft will be involved.

Question: I have been considering modifying my Stinson 108-2 and getting it certified in the Experimental class. I have been told that it isn’t that hard to do, but I don’t know anyone who has done it. I also don’t see it talked about much, so maybe it isn’t that easy.

Some of the changes I want to do are a different, non-STCd engine, wing extensions, flap expansion and design change, aileron modifications, several fuselage changes such as extended baggage that is integral with the main cabin, passenger doors, instrument panel and instrumentation changes. The list is fairly extensive. I also read somewhere that any certified part cant be modified and considered part of the 51% homebuilt, so would any of these changes even count toward the required 51%?

Answer: Unfortunately, my expertise lies mostly with Experimental/Amateur-Built, and Special and Experimental Light Sport Aircraft (SLSA and LSA). However, I can tell you that it is much easier to move a Standard Category aircraft into Experimental than it is to return an aircraft to the Standard Category. To return the aircraft to Standard, you must be able to show that it meets its original type certificate, and that is difficult to do.

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Your list includes some extensive modifications. To do these, first you will have to find a FSDO that is willing to work with you. This in itself is getting more difficult as time goes by. They will most likely require that you employ a DER (Designated Engineering Representative) to oversee your modifications.

As far as going the amateur-built route, thats pretty much out. The FAA is emphatic about not using parts from a certified aircraft. It simply isn’t allowed. In the past, a few certified aircraft have been licensed as amateur-built if enough of the aircraft was scratch-built to be able to establish a major portion, but not anymore. Newer rules strictly prohibit it.

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

Mel Asberry is an experienced Designated Airworthiness Representative specializing in Experimental/Amateur-Built aircraft. He and his wife, Ann, have built seven amateur-built airplanes including two ultralight types, a Moni Motorglider, a Dragonfly Mk2, two RV-6s and a Zenair CH 601HDS. They are currently building a scratch-built biplane.


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