Ask the DAR

Complying with the 51% rule, bringing Canadian aircraft into the U.S., adding auxiliary fuel tanks, using non-TSOd ADS-B in an Ercoupe.

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Question: How do you determine if a person who buys an unfinished kit complies with the 51% rule? If the original buyer dies and the plane is complete, but not signed off, how does the 51% rule affect getting the plane signed off?

Answer: Actually, one builder does not have to build 51%. The rule says that the aircraft must be 51% amateur built. Any number of people may participate in the project; you just need to be able to show that 51% of the construction and fabrication was completed by amateurs.

If the original builder has passed away and didn’t keep a builder’s log, you could have a problem. However, even in an extreme case, usually a family member or relative should be able to testify to his build participation.

Question: I want to buy an E/A-B aircraft that was built and registered in Canada. Several sources have told me I will have to pay some very high fees to bring the plane to the U.S. Is this correct?

Answer: I’m not quite sure what fees you are referring to. The normal way to bring an E/A-B aircraft from Canada into the U.S. is to de-register the aircraft in Canada and re-register it in the U.S.

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Once the aircraft is registered in the U.S., you will need to submit an application for a U.S. airworthiness certificate. From that point, the aircraft will be treated like any other Amateur-Built. That is, the owner must be able to show proof that the aircraft is truly amateur built by submitting a builder’s log or other proof, and FAA form 8130-12 (eligibility statement).

If the owner cannot show proof of meeting the “major portion” rule, the aircraft cannot be certificated as Experimental/Amateur-Built in the U.S.

Question: I have an E/A-B Zodiac 601 HDS. I recently installed a 7-gallon fuel tank in one of the wing baggage lockers. This is an option that is designed and supplied by Zenith Aircraft. Does this modification require that I put the airplane back into Phase I for testing?

Answer: Yes, you will need to return your aircraft to Phase I flight testing. You have made a major change to the fuel system and significantly changed the weight and balance. You’ll also need to placard the instrument panel as to the operation of the auxiliary fuel tank.

Question: I own and fly a certified 1947 Ercoupe 415-C that qualifies as an LSA. I want to comply with the FAA rules for ADS-B Out before 2020, but TSO’d equipment is expensive—20 to 50% of the cost of most Ercoupes. The mandate allows LSAs and Experimental aircraft to use less-costly non-TSO’d equipment. Since my Ercoupe qualifies as an LSA, can I add non-TSO’d equipment? Would it make sense to re-register the plane as Experimental?

Answer: Unfortunately the answer to both questions is no. Your Ercoupe is a certified aircraft and must be maintained as such. There is also no practical route to re-register your aircraft as Experimental.

The LSA compliance factor is simply to allow a sport pilot to fly the aircraft. All aircraft must be maintained in accordance with their original certification.

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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