Ask the DAR

Converting an ultralight to ELSA, kit without a bill of sale, engine missing its data plate.

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Question: I recently purchased an ultralight-type airplane that was registered but never certificated. The original owner was going to get it certificated as ELSA, but never did. How can I continue with the certification process?

Answer: Unfortunately you can’t. There was a procedure for “grandfathering” these aircraft into ELSA, but that process expired in January 2008.

At present, there are two paths for the certification of Experimental Light Sport Aircraft. FAR Part 21.191(i)(2) covers aircraft built from certified Light Sport kits. These kits must include an FAA form 8130-15 provided by the kit manufacturer stating that all parts included in the kit exactly match the parts used in the Special Light Sport Aircraft offered by the manufacturer.

FAR Part 21.191(i)(3) provides for transitioning an SLSA into an ELSA. Many people do this to avoid having to follow certain requirements mandated by the manufacturer of the SLSA.

That said, there are two possibilities for certification of your aircraft. If you can show that the aircraft was at least 51% amateur-built, you can go the Experimental/Amateur-Built route under 21.191(g). This would involve presenting a builder’s log and signing an eligibility statement, FAA form 8130-12.

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The second option is to go with Experimental Exhibition category, 21.191(d). The exhibition category is for exhibiting the aircraft’s flight capabilities, performance, or unusual characteristics in airshows, motion pictures, television, and similar productions. While using the exhibition category is certainly possible, I never recommend this category as it certainly does not meet the intent of the rules, and it places several undesirable restrictions on the owner.

Question: I have a Murphy Rebel kit that I bought third-hand. The last pieces of the kit where bought in early ’94. Do I need an FAA bill of sale from Murphy? The previous owner said he did not have one, and Murphy will not send one to me. I have also lost contact with the previous owner, and the receipt for buying the plane has almost turned blank from being in my shop. What can I do to register this plane and start my DAR inspections for airworthiness?

Answer: If you do not have a bill of sale from the kit manufacturer or the previous owner, you may use FAA form AC 8050-88. This is an affidavit of ownership and must be notarized. If you check the first box that says that the aircraft is built from miscellaneous parts, you will not need a bill of sale.

Question: I have assembled a Lycoming O-235 engine that does not have a data plate. The crankcase is identified with a serial number that does match the engine logbook. How do I identify this engine and must this data be affixed to the engine?

Answer: If the data plate has been removed from your engine, it is likely because someone has modified the engine so that it no longer meets Lycoming’s type design. If the engine is installed in an Experimental aircraft, it does not have to have a data plate. As a matter of fact, if the engine has indeed been modified, then Lycoming does not want their data plate on it.

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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