Ask the DAR

ELSA condition inspections, converting an ELSA to E/A-B, non-TSOd lighting.

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Question: I have a Experimental Light Sport Aircraft (ELSA) that I do the condition inspection on. I took the 16-hour course so I can do the inspection. I understand that I have to be the owner of the aircraft to do the inspection. My question is, if I sell the plane, is the condition inspection still valid since I no longer own the plane?

Answer: Thanks for your question. Yes, the condition inspection that you accomplished is valid for 12 calendar months. The ownership requirement only means that you must be the owner to perform the inspection.

Question: Can a kitbuilt aircraft, originally built as an ELSA and certified with a special airworthiness certificate, be recertified as an Experimental/Amateur-Built?

I am thinking of buying a used ELSA Murphy Rebel that has been deregistered by the FAA due to export to Canada. Although originally registered as an LSA, the kit manufacturer (Murphy Aircraft) specifies that the aircraft is permitted to operate at a gross weight of up to 1650 pounds if desired. If I purchase this aircraft, I intend to install a Lycoming O-320 and operate it above the LSA weight restrictions. However, before I buy, I must first know if I will be permitted to register it as an E/A-B.

Answer: Unfortunately you may not convert an Experimental Light Sport Aircraft to Experimental/Amateur-Built. If the aircraft was originally built as an ELSA, the “major portion” rule did not apply. To qualify for Experimental/Amateur-Built, one would have to prove compliance with the major portion rule, which would include submission of a builder’s log and FAA form 8130-12 (eligibility statement). Once an aircraft is certificated as ELSA, it will remain ELSA.

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Question: I’m researching lighting options for an RV. I understand the FARs require approved lighting in order to be night VFR legal. Does “approved” in this instance mean TSO’d or just lighting that meets the specifications and parameters of the requirements?

There are many lights on the market that are nearly identical with the only exception being TSO’d or not. And, of course, the non-TSO’d are usually significantly cheaper. The online community seems to be at odds as to what approved means, with no real definitive answer other than saying, “Just buy TSO’d so you know you’re covered”. At a premium of $500+ for TSO’d, I’d hate to waste money on “just in case.”

Answer: This question comes up often and always gets a lot of argument from both sides. Many people think that because an aircraft is Experimental, it doesn’t have to meet the same requirements as “standard” certificated aircraft. Your operating limitations state that to be approved for night and/or IFR flight, the aircraft must meet the requirements of 91.205. Since 91.205 is written primarily for standard certificated aircraft, there is no mention of “lesser” requirements for Experimental aircraft. Therefore, to meet the requirements for 91.205, the aircraft must meet the same requirements as if it were a standard certificated aircraft.

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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