Ask the DAR

Selling a project, Sport Pilot-eligible aircraft, recycling an N-number, Phase I testing.

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Question: I’m planning to sell my partially complete Thatcher CX-4. It is about 65-70% complete. I was thinking of removing all the instrumentation and some other parts to make it about 49% and offer to the buyer these items as a box of parts. What is your opinion?

Answer: You really don’t have to separate anything. Until finished, it is not an airplane; it’s a project. To qualify as Amateur-Built, the 51% rule only applies to the fact that it is amateur-built. It doesn’t matter who does the building. The purchaser can complete the project and license it as Amateur-Built.

In addition, to qualify for the repairman certificate does not require the applicant to do 51% of the work. He/she simply has to be one of the builders and show they know the project well enough to competently perform the condition inspection.

Question: Can a Sport Pilot-eligible aircraft with a standard airworthiness certificate (certain Champs, Ercoupes, Luscombes, etc.) be converted to an ELSA?

Answer: Unfortunately the only aircraft that can be converted to an ELSA is an SLSA. The only aircraft that can be certificated as an ELSA is one built from a Light-Sport kit or one being converted from an SLSA. A standard-category aircraft that meets LSA parameters may be operated by a Sport Pilot, but the aircraft cannot be converted to an ELSA.

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Question: I bought a 1969 airplane for the engine and plan to use it on my Experimental airplane. I cut up the rest of the plane and took it to the scrap yard. Can I take the N-number off the plane I took to the scrap yard and use it on my Experimental?

If the N-number has been surrendered and is showing as available on the FAA registration web site, then yes, you can use it.

The back of the aircraft registration gives four options for cancelation. Option B, the aircraft is totally destroyed or scrapped, would be your option. Once the registration is cancelled, it should show up in the FAA N-number database as available.

Question: For a newly completed Experimental airplane, are there any inspections required during or after completion of Phase I flight testing?

Answer: Under normal circumstances there are no inspections required during or at the completion of Phase I flight testing. Of course, there should be inspections all along the way. But those are at the discretion of the builder and/or pilot.

The exception would be in a case where the inspector has chosen to sign off the airworthiness certificate for Phase I testing only. Although this is somewhat rare, it does happen. It may be because of a very unusual engine installation, an aircraft with a pressurized cabin, or any other situation that causes the inspector to want to keep an eye on things during the test phase.

In this case, one must apply for another inspection before being issued an unlimited airworthiness certificate.

Also keep in mind that Phase I is not 40 hours. Phase I continues until all flight testing is completed. Forty hours, or 25 in the case of a certificated engine/prop combination, is simply the minimum time required to complete the testing.

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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