So now you’ve finished your aircraft and you want to fly it, but first you need that dreaded Airworthiness Inspection! No need to fret or worry. That’s why I am here--- to help you get through that as painlessly as possible.
I am authorized to perform Initial Airworthiness Inspections on Amateur-Built and Light Sport aircraft in 7 States (Georgia, Tennessee, N. Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, N & S Carolina) and have been doing just that for approximately 7 years. I can travel to other States upon request and co-ordination with the local FSDO/MIDO. Prices are $500 for the inspection (General Atlanta area travel is included). Travel greater than 35 Nautical Miles away from GA04 is $125/hr.
I have licensed RV-3's, RV-4's, RV-6's &6A's, RV-7's & 7A's, RV-8's & 8A's, RV-9's & 9A's, RV-10's, RV-12's, RV-14's, Kitfoxes, Avid Flyers, Pitts, Glasair's, Kitstorms, Just Superstol, Lancair's, Carbon Cub, Rans, Sonex, Waiex, Zenith, Starduster, Searey, and even a Jenny, along with many others. I also have done ELSA's and Light Sport aircraft.
If you are not a member of the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) I would highly recommend that you join and take advantage of the online resources that are available to its Members.
Get your Affidavit of ownership (8050-88) filled out and notarized.
Here’s what you will need for the actual Inspection:
“I have inspected this aircraft and find it to be in a condition for safe operation.”
That’s all there is to it! Don’t hesitate to reach out to me, either phone or email, and I will help you through the process.
Kitplanes Airworthiness Inspection Article by Vic Syracuse:
The Initial Airworthiness Inspection for Builders and the Condition Inspection for non-builders of Amateur-built Aircraft seem to cause a lot of concern. And while there’s no doubt that for some it should (I’ll add some color to that comment a little later) they are really both quite similar and not all that difficult. And both Inspections have the same objective: to insure the aircraft is a condition for safe operation. From the phone calls I receive it appears the trepidation of the Initial Airworthiness Inspection stems more from a lack of knowledge as to what is required, and the Condition Inspections for non-builders rank up there with a visit to the Dentist.
So let’s discuss exactly what “condition for safe operation” means and how to best accomplish them. Preparing for the initial Airworthiness is really quite straightforward these days. There are certainly lots of resources such as on-line help, local EAA chapters, and a complete packet with all of the required forms available from the EAA for $15. As I mentioned in an earlier article, I recommend that you find a DAR early in the process and you will probably get all of the help you need, thereby eliminating surprises or delays. All of the inspections that I have seen delayed have been due to paperwork issues so let’s discuss the most common ones.
Prior to the initial Airworthiness Inspection being authorized, the aircraft has to be registered, and for that to occur the FAA needs 3 things: an Application for Registration, a Bill of Sale traceable back to the kit manufacturer or original builder, and an Affidavit of Ownership. These 3 requirements seem to be the beginning of the problems for some.
The Application for Registration, form 8050-1, is one of the few FAA forms that cannot be downloaded. Most FBO’s will have one, especially if they are an active aircraft sales operation. This one has carbon copies, and while prior-certified aircraft can use the pink copy as a temporary registration certificate, it is not pertinent in our case for the initial registration. Go ahead and fill this one out with your reserved N-number (if you have reserved an N-number, write a short note asking them to assign it to this aircraft). Otherwise, leave it blank and they will assign you a number.
The Bill of Sale seems to snag a few builders as well. Most of the Kit manufacturers have learned that everyone loses these so they now send them out upon request at the end of the project to the kit owner. The problems seem to occur primarily where there have been multiple owners. It is not sufficient to submit only the bill of sale from the last builder to you. All of the prior bill of sales must be included back to the original manufacturer. So hang on to them when you purchase a kit. Put them in a safe place with all of your other valuables. By the way, a Bill of Sale can be the downloaded FAA form 8050-2 or a bill of sale/sales contract that you and the prior owner have signed and dated.
The Affidavit of Ownership is downloadable as form 8050-88. This one needs to be notarized, so don’t forget to have that done before you send these three documents along with $5 to the FAA Aircraft Registration Branch in OKC. Normally it will take 3-6 weeks depending upon their workload to get your Registration card back to you. For those who wait until the last minute, there are a couple of companies located in OKC that will hand carry the paperwork through the FAA process within a day or so.
Once the aircraft is registered, you can begin your Application for Airworthiness. This is another downloadable form, 8130-6. Where appropriate, such as Builder, Owner, N-number, etc., it should exactly match your Aircraft Registration card. Your DAR will help you with this, along with any other documentation that is needed, such as a Program Letter, Eligibility Statement (FAA form 8130-12), weight and Balance, 3-view drawings, etc.
Yep, some think the paperwork is bigger than the project itself! Eventually we do get through it, and we can get on to the nuts and bolts (pardon the pun) part of the inspections. This is where the fun starts. Remember, in an earlier column I wrote that we were supposed to be having fun. J I really do have fun performing the Initial Airworthiness inspections because for first time builders it is a lifetime event. And sometimes the situations themselves can have some levity.
The most common greeting I get when I arrive is “I’ve had my A&P, IA, Tech Counselor, etc., look it over and we are ready for you.” I love the fact that the builder is willing to have others look at his/her aircraft. In 7 years of inspections I have found that some of these have the most discrepancies. The funniest one was hearing this exact statement as I was walking towards the airplane from the right side, with the RED nav light staring me in the face. Very politely I said that I thought we usually placed the GREEN light on the right side. The look on everyone’s faces as they stared at the light, then at each other, and then back at the light was unforgettable.
I’m usually doing a cursory look as I am walking towards the airplane. On another aircraft I noticed that neither of the main wheels had cotter keys on the axle nuts. When I mentioned it to them I was firmly told that they had them “cranked down as tight as they could and they weren’t going anywhere as they had already completed taxi testing!” Needless to say, the rest of the airplane received a very thorough inspection and required multiple trips to rectify the discrepancies. Intentions were good, but unfortunately they didn’t make use of available resources during the build process.
On an RV-10 I discovered more than 40 rivets missing from the vertical stabilizer main spar. On a meticulously plans-built and spotless, show-quality Pitts I discovered a loose B-nut on the main oil line from the sump back to the inverted oil system. I could turn it with my fingers. I really recommend that everyone check each jam nut and B-nut with a wrench and then add torque seal. I still check them, but at least I know that supposedly someone else did the same. On this same aircraft the oil temp sender was missing the safety wire.
Here are some of the more common discrepancies on Initial Airworthiness Inspections:
Loose jam nuts on control rods and rod end bearings. I find more of these loose than any other single item. I believe that the recently issued service bulletin from vans pertaining to elevator spar cracking is due to this very cause. Torque seal works well here, too.
Missing cotter keys. Wherever the bolt is subject to rotation, castellated nuts along with cotter keys are required. I recently inspected an RV-10 that had been flying for 85 hours without cotter keys on any of the four engine mount bolts as well as the main wheel axle nuts!
Data plate compliance. This is really a simple area, but gets confusing for some. There are only 3 things required on the data plate: Make, Model, and Serial number. All 3 of these are on your Registration card and should be on the data plate in the exact same format. And the data plate needs to be of stainless material.
Baffling. Many builders forget to tie the under-cylinder baffling together, as well as sealing the baffling to the engine with RTV or some other sealant.
Safety wire. Common areas are the brakes ( not required on all brakes), engine compartment (oil temp senders with AN-900 gaskets, oil filters, gascolators), and flap actuators on RV’s.