Ask the DAR

Licensing a partially completed project. Does major repair work count as building?

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Question: I am contemplating the purchase of a substantially completed (about 95%) E/A-B that is LSA eligible from a local non-pilot amateur builder. The aircraft needs a few final touches and then is ready for its FAA inspection and sign-off prior to its first test flight. I propose purchasing the uncompleted aircraft and completing the remaining final touches myself prior to the FAA inspection. I am an experienced multiple builder and currently fly an RV-12 ELSA that I built. Would there be any unusual paperwork issues with this approach? All work to date on the aircraft has been accomplished by the original builder for educational and recreational purposes.

Also, since I will have personally built only the last 5% or so of this project, can I qualify as the builder of record and get the associated repairman’s certificate for this aircraft?

Answer: Licensing this aircraft as Experimental/Amateur-Built shouldn’t be a problem. All you need to do is show that the aircraft is 51% amateur built, and it appears you have that covered.

You will list yourself as one of the builders on Form 8130-12, the eligibility statement, when you apply for certification. All builders must be listed, and there is no requirement to specify a percentage for anyone. You will then be qualified for the repairman certificate for this aircraft.

The requirement for the repairman certificate is that you are a primary builder of the aircraft, and you can show that you can competently perform the condition inspection in accordance with FAR Part 43, Appendix D.

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This is all assuming that the aircraft has not already been registered. If it has been registered, then the original builder listed on the registration cannot be changed. However, you can still be listed on the 8130-12 and qualify for the repairman certificate.

Question: A few years back, I purchased a damaged RANS S-10. Inasmuch as there was a clear chain of ownership, I registered the aircraft in my name. Now I am wondering if there is a way to register it as an experimental with me as the builder and repairman.

In the intervening years, I have slowly rebuilt it. I have done everything an original builder would have had to do and much more. I repaired the fuselage, designed and fabricated the engine mount to install an 80-hp Jabiru instead of the recommended Rotax 582 or 912, and designed and fabbed the cowl. I also rebuilt both wings, including new spars, and kept a builder’s log with plenty of photos.

Is there a path that allows me to claim that I assembled a kit and get a new airworthiness certificate?

Answer: Thanks for your question. It is one I get fairly often. Once an Experimental/Amateur-Built aircraft is certificated, the builder can never change. I know and appreciate your goal. Unfortunately, all the work you have accomplished is considered a “repair” and not a “build.”

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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