Ask the DAR

Condition inspections, N-number problems, removing an electrical system and transponder.


Question: My Mustang II received its airworthiness certificate almost a year ago. Now I find that I’m nowhere near completing the 40- hour Phase I test period, and I’m going to need the annual condition inspection very soon. Can I do it myself, or must I hire an A&P?

Answer: If you have obtained the repairman certificate for your aircraft, then you can perform the condition inspection yourself. If not, you will need to hire an A&P to do it.

Question: I recently bought a Hollmann two-seat gyroplane sans engine, circa 1980. It spent a lot of time outdoors and needs a lot of work. I also refurbed an ’87 13b Mazda engine to put in it. I contacted the local FSDO, and they say I can’t get a tail number because I will be repairing it, as opposed to building it. Is there any possibility of successfully getting a tail number?

Answer: Unfortunately I’m going to have to give you the same answer that the FSDO office did. The aircraft has already been fabricated and assembled. The work that you have done would be considered a repair or rebuild, neither of which meets the “major portion” requirements for Amateur-Built aircraft under 14 CFR 21.191(g).

Question: I am trying to acquire a special N-number from a recently de-registered Experimental aircraft. The aircraft was de-registered by the FAA because the owner/builder did not request renewal and let the registration lapse voluntarily. I have the correspondence from the FAA regarding this proceeding, and in it the aircraft registration branch manager states that “If no request is made (prior to cancellation), the N-number will be cancelled and designated as unavailable for the next five years.” Is there any way to get this N-number out of its five year exile?

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Answer: I’m afraid that this is a question for the FAA Registration Branch in Oklahoma City. I would call up there and ask to speak to a supervisor. My guess is that the five-year holding is to accommodate the original owner if he changes his mind. If you know this person, maybe you can have him send a letter stating that a renewal will not be requested. It never hurts to try.

Question: Can you explain FAR 91.215 as it applies to homebuilts? Can an Experimental aircraft owner remove the electrical system and transponder and still be legal? Can a wind generator powered or aircraft battery only transponder be removed? Many aircraft like Cubys, Baby Aces, and other simple airplanes sometimes have full electrical systems, but a new owner would like to convert it back to simple.

Answer: Part 91.215 pertains to all U.S. registered civil aircraft operating under part 91 rules. There are no differences noted for Experimental/Amateur-Built aircraft. The requirements are the same regardless of the classification.

A transponder is required for all aircraft operating within the listed airspace unless the aircraft was originally certificated without an engine driven electrical system and one has not been subsequently added. In other words, if the aircraft has ever had an engine-driven electrical system, the exemption does not apply.

Just like the LSA regulations, an aircraft cannot be “backed into” the transponder exemption.

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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