Question: I have just started building a Zenith CH 750, and I am using KitLogPro software to document the time, expenses and photos during the building project. Do I need to contact the FAA or a local DAR regarding the need for in-process inspections during the build, or is my documentation in KitLogPro sufficient? I do not want to find myself in a situation someday where I am asked to open up a wing so the DAR can see inside before he will sign off the Airworthiness Certificate. Can you offer any words of wisdom on the subject?
Answer: You should contact the local FSDO (Flight Standards District Office) and let them know you are building an aircraft. They will most likely refer you to a local DAR.
Technically, there is no longer a requirement to have in-process inspections in the U.S. However, it is strongly recommended that you get a minimum of three (the more the better) in-process inspections from an EAA technical counselor, an A&P mechanic or another experienced builder. Many DARs are also technical counselors. If you find a tech counselor who is also a DAR-well, thats a plus. If he has looked at your project during the build, he will already be familiar with your workmanship and the airworthiness inspection may go more smoothly.
I would also suggest that you get several individuals to look over your work periodically. Different sets of eyes will see different things. While building, you are so close to the project that you may overlook items that you would not believe possible.
Question: In a previous issue you responded to a question concerning people like me who purchased an Experimental airplane, in my case an RV-8, from the original builder. In your response, you used the term “builder/owner. Is this the same thing as just owner but not builder? Or is there a separate set of rules that apply to this situation?
Answer: In this instance, the FAA inspector was addressing a builder/owner, and that’s why I used the term. Actually, you are correct, in that anyone can maintain, repair or even modify an Experimental/Amateur-Built aircraft. The only purpose of the Repairman Certificate is to allow sign-off of the condition inspection.
Question: My DAR is demanding to see a fuel-flow test at maximum angle of attack (with the aircraft on the ground) and the engine running. Can he require such a test?
Answer: Actually, the inspector, whether he is an FAA aviation safety inspector or a DAR, may request to see any test considered necessary to prove the safety of the aircraft. You don’t say whether or not your fuel system has been modified. If it has been modified, then this could be the reason for such a request. Minimum fuel flow at maximum AOA is a common test, but I cannot recall anyone requiring it to be done with the engine running. Typically it is done with the boost pumps only to show that the engine will receive sufficient fuel flow at max AOA in case of a mechanical pump failure. Often it is difficult to get the airplane into the maximum AOA configuration on the ground, especially if it is a tailwheel airplane. Running the engine in this configuration could make for a somewhat precarious situation.
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