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Higlander gross weight increase, using certified parts in a plansbuilt Cub.

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Question: I built a Just Aircraft Highlander and registered it as Experimental/Amateur-Built. I set the gross weight at 1320 pounds to comply with the requirements of flying it as an LSA. If the Pilots Bill of Rights 2 passes, is it possible for me to change the gross weight from 1320 to 1500 pounds? I believe 1500 pounds is the designed max weight for the Highlander, but I have to verify that with the designer.

Answer: Your question will probably be quite common if the PBOR 2 actually passes. Just remember that even if it passes, it will not go into effect for a year unless the FAA approves it earlier.

You may increase the gross weight of your amateur-built aircraft if you can show either the designer’s approval or engineering data to justify the increase. In either case, you will need to place the aircraft back into phase I and complete flight testing to the new maximum gross weight. You also need to remember that after the change, the aircraft can never again be flown by a Sport Pilot or any other pilot operating under Sport Pilot privileges.

Question: I recently acquired a plansbuilt project. The original builder used Wag Aero J-3 Cub plans and built the fuselage from scratch. A builder’s log was used with some documentation and pictures.

The builder had access to an old J-3, and I assume some of the parts from it were used, such as wing ribs, landing gear, and the tube frames for the control surfaces. Can I consider this project to be Experimental/Amateur-Built?

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My second concern is this: When the first builder started the project, he immediately registered the plane in the Standard category as a certified airplane. When he realized how much work he was having to do, he bought the Wag Aero plans and continued the project. Somehow it has a serial number for an E/A-B project, but it is also registered with the FAA as a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub.

It is obvious that this is a homebuilt project. However, the FAA has contacted me and asked me to register the 1946 Piper J-3 Cub. Can I decline and go the E/A-B route? This is all new to me and any advice would be appreciated.

Answer: Some parts from a certificated aircraft may be used to build an Amateur-Built aircraft. Now, I’m talking about parts like wing ribs, landing gear components, etc. Major subassemblies such as wings, control surfaces, etc., such as used to be used to build a Breezy or similar aircraft, may not be used. If parts from a certificated aircraft are used, they do not count toward the amateur-built portion. Also, if any certificated parts are used, you must complete and submit the amateur-built fabrication and assembly checklist found in Appendix 8 of AC 20-27G when applying for certification.

As far as the aircraft being registered as a Standard category 1946 Piper J-3 Cub, that is something you will have to work out with the FAA registration branch in Oklahoma City. Somehow that has to go away.

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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