April 2014

Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.

Issue link: https://experimenter.epubxp.com/i/287214

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Page 37 of 38

38 Vol.3 No.4 / April 2014 HANGAR DEBRIEF AS NOTED IN THIS MONTH'S Advocacy column in EAA Sport Aviation (page 10), the fi rst few fl ight hours of a homebuilt air- craft are the most dangerous. Of all Phase 1 fl ight-testing accidents in 2011, 18 percent occurred on the fi rst fl ight, and a full 65 percent occurred within the fi rst eight hours. A large majority of the accidents, perhaps as high as two-thirds, were due to human factors, predominantly loss of control. To address this problem, for the past nine months, EAA's Homebuilt Aircraft Council (HAC) and EAA's Government Advocacy team have been working closely with the FAA to develop an optional path for the fl ight testing of certain homebuilt aircraft, including experimental amateur-built (E-AB) aircraft and experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA). The purpose of this project is to improve the safety of Phase 1 fl ight testing by enhancing builder/owner pilot skills and less- ening the risks associated with Phase 1 fl ight testing through the use of a qualifi ed additional pilot. All of this is in response to the 2012 National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) accident study of experimental aircraft and the board's recom- mendations, particularly those regarding loss of control and engine failure issues. Under this proposal, builders of kit aircraft meeting cer- tain basic requirements may elect to fl y with an appropriately qualifi ed additional pilot during the early stages of Phase 1 fl ight testing, including the maiden fl ight. After the fi rst ten hours and the completion of a simple package of testing for the aircraft and the builder, he or she may fl y with an "ob- server pilot." The observer pilot would be useful for spotting traf c, monitoring systems, and other safety-related tasks dur- ing the latter stages of Phase 1, after the fundamental airwor- thiness of the aircraft is proven. This "additional pilot" approach departs from traditional fl ight-testing philosophy, which stresses that only minimum required crew—in most cases the FAA views this as a solo pi- lot—should be carried aloft during fl ight testing. That philoso- phy assumes that mechanical defects are the most common causes of accidents. In homebuilt aircraft, particularly in well-proven kit aircraft, that is not true. Too often, builders lacking familiarity with the aircraft, currency, or knowledge of the fl ight-testing process make mistakes early in Phase 1. This Hangar Debrief overview is meant to provide factual details about what's being discussed, realizing, of course, that everything can change as the proposal moves through the ap- proval process. The FAA is currently preparing a new advisory circular (AC) to outline all of the requirements necessary for this option. First and foremost, this new program will be purely optional. A homebuilder's right to test his aircraft within the current fl ight testing rules will remain. A builder may embrace the new program at his discretion, and may choose at any time to revert to the original fl ight-test program. This choice of programs maintains the freedoms we currently have. Briefl y, here are some of the highlights and requirements for using this proposed option: • The builder/owner must own some or all of the aircraft being tested and meet the pilot requirements for that par- ticular category and class of aircraft, as well as all currency requirements. • The aircraft must be built from a kit and be on FAA's Eligible Aircraft Kit List; here's a link for that list. • The aircraft must have fully functioning dual controls. • Only aircraft powered by powerplants that are recom- mended, supported, or provided by the kit manufacturer will be eligible. Certain third-party customized engines may be eligible. Turbine engines are not currently eligi- ble. Powerplant testing, as found in AC 90-89, will be required as applicable. (These are tests builders should be doing, anyway.) • With respect to the fl ight-test program, documentation for compliance will be via logbook entries, test plans, and pho- tos or diagrams. • The additional qualified pilot will be approved to assist the builder/pilot, to the extent desired and agreed to, dur- ing the initial flight testing of the aircraft. A flight-test plan will be required describing the required elements, both for the initial testing and also the required Dispelling Rumors… Flight testing and two pilots in the airplane BY RICK WEISS, E A A LIFE TIME 214428 E A A E X P _ A p r 1 4 . i n d d 3 8 EAAEXP_Apr14.indd 38 3 / 3 1 / 1 4 9 : 4 6 A M 3/31/14 9:46 AM

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