Ask the DAR

Registration and the Repairman’s Certificate.

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Question: Can I register a previously flown, but never-registered airplane as Experimental/Amateur-Built or ELSA? I have purchased a used airplane project that has never been registered. I believe it is at least fifteen years old and it was flown about 300 hours under a Part 103 exemption by the unknown original builder, who did publish a builder’s log and photos, but no logs of any kind. The airplane was traded to a second owner who began a restoration. I have purchased this project, which included a manufacturer’s (FAA) bill of sale, and the second owner’s affidavit of Amateur-Built status. I am putting this airplane back together and would prefer to get it registered properly. The kit has been in production for over 20 years and current kits are marketed as qualifying for ELSA status. When completed, it will still clearly be a previously flown airplane. Can I register and obtain the Repairman Certificate for this airplane? Would you recommend Experimental or ELSA?

Answer: Thank you for your question. If you have documentation showing that the aircraft meets the 51% requirement, you can indeed get the aircraft certificated as an Experimental/Amateur-Built aircraft under Part 21.191(g). You must be able to show this documentation and provide a notarized eligibility statement, FAA form 8130-12.

As far as certificating the aircraft as Experimental Light-Sport, that can only be done if that particular kit meets ELSA kit standards. The kit manufacturer must issue a certificate of compliance, FAA form 8130-15, and you must be able to show that the completed aircraft was built in accordance with the plans and instructions from the kit manufacturer. It is not likely that the kit manufacturer will issue the 8130-15 on a previously sold kit.

To be eligible for the Repairman Certificate for an Experimental/Amateur-Built aircraft, you must be listed as a primary builder of that aircraft.

I have three questions for a friend who is considering buying an RV-8. He asked me to look at the paperwork, and the FAA files have an airworthiness certificate issued May, 2002 that expired May, 2003. The same dates apply to the letter of operating limitations.

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I’ve told my friend that I think the aircraft is currently a wind tee—do not fly it.

Question 1: Is there any way that the aircraft would have a valid airworthiness certificate and operating limitations that would not be on file at FAA?

Answer: Not likely. If the current owner claims to have a valid airworthiness certificate, this could be researched further. Sometimes an airworthiness certificate is issued for one year for safety reasons, but this is not common.

Question 2: Assuming that everything expired 11 years ago, how does this all get fixed?

Answer: This would require a recurrent airworthiness inspection. The procedure is the same as for an original inspection.

Question 3: No Repairman Certificate was ever issued. Can my friend (the new purchaser) make any kind of case for qualifying for that?

Answer: Unfortunately no. To qualify for the Repairman Certificate, the person must be listed as a builder of the aircraft.

Please send your questions for DAR Asberry to editorial@kitplanes.com 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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