Experimenter

FEB 2015

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.

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4 Vol.4 No.2 / Februar y 2015 HOMEBUILDER'S CORNER WITH THE CLOSE of 2014, I thought it might be interesting to know how many new homebuilts have been completed each year. I get quarterly reports on the fl eet size from the FAA, but that data only shows the net increase or decrease. When FAA implemented re-registration from October 2010 to December 31, 2013, that completely messed up the historical data during that time period. Going forward, the numbers should be more accurate as inactive aircraft come of the rolls. Fortunately for us, EAA member Ron Wanttaja mines the FAA registration database each year and was able to tease out just the new completions going all the way back to 2001 (see graph). Over this 14-year span, in the United States alone, we have added 16,140 new aircraft to the fl eet. That is pretty impressive! The average number of new completions each year was 1,153 (for you statistics geeks, the median was 1,209). In fact, every year more than 1,000 homebuilts have been added, except for 2012 and 2013. Why the dip in 2012/2013? In those years the completions numbered 895 and 805, respectively. Ron's theory on the dip in those years is the delayed economic impact of the Great Recession in the 2007 to 2009 time period. That seems like a reasonable reason because a homebuilt can take two to four years to complete. Because 2014's numbers jumped back up to 1,046 completions, it appears that the economy was driving the dip. I hope we will stay in the 1,000-plus completion range from here on out. These numbers really don't surprise me much. Home- building is where it is at if you want an aircraft, especially a new aircraft. It gives us builders an incredible amount of freedom that simply does not exist anywhere else in the aviation world. (To be fair, ultralighting has it better, but the overall sandbox to play in is too limited by empty weight/ stall speed). If you want an affordably priced aircraft, you can scratchbuild and buy a used engine. If you want per- formance, most homebuilt designs outperform certificated aircraft by wide margins. And if you want a glass panel, the technology available to homebuilders continues to get better and better. One of the drawbacks of being successful is the added FAA scrutiny that comes along with the increased number of experimental amateur-built aircraft. With a growing number of homebuilt aircraft, it makes it harder to meet the FAA's ac- cident reduction goals. And if there is one thing I've learned from working at EAA, the only thing that could be a real threat to the homebuilt movement is a poor safety record. As builders, we need to safeguard the homebuilt movement by using EAA's Technical Counselor program to make sure our construction practices are satisfactory. And when the time comes for flight testing, take advantage of the EAA Flight Advisor program to avoid an accident during the high-risk flight-testing phase. The extra attention is not always bad as we proved last year by getting the FAA to allow a qualified second pilot onboard during flight testing. One way to make sure the completion numbers continue to grow is to fi nish your project! If your project is stalled out or pushed to the back of your workshop gathering dust, take some inspiration from these numbers. Commit to solving what- ever issue made you walk away. Call your local EAA technical counselor to come over and devise a solution. Your fellow EAA members are out there and willing to help. Keep Those Completions Coming! And, keep building and fl ying safely BY CHARLIE BECKER New E-AB completed by year.

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