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%51 rule and buying almost completed projects


Ratdog

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Im thinking of buying a specific Varieze project and Im confused about the 51% rule and all the B.S. that seems to swirl around the topic on the internet.  This project is basically an unpainted airframe without an engine or instruments . I would be finishing the painting , instruments , control hookups ,engine mounting , interior etc.  What do I do if I complete it and the FAA inspector says I didn't build enough of it .  How can I register and test fly the aircraft and ultimately certify it. Some say the FAA interprets 51% as amateur built not necessarily built by me but built by another amateur .  Does anyone know the real story . 

 
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Try faa advisory circular 20-27G. The way I understand, It says professional means if you pay for someone to do some work for you. Previous builder as long as another amateur and kept records of the build is ok. Your problem is getting a repairman certificate which requires you to be the “major” builder. However I haven’t seen a definition of it meaning you still can claim to be the major builder. 
for a quick glance, read page 14 on above ac.

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I read the circular many things seems confusing and contradictory.  I found this “ Yes, you can purchase a partially built aircraft and complete it yourself and apply for an experimental amateur built airworthiness certificate.

Just a couple of things to note: 1) Make sure the aircraft qualifies (51% rule) as an amateur built aircraft, and 2) that you receive construction records to include build photographs from the seller. With these records, you can continue on with the build documentation to show the FAA at the final inspection.

Good build records makes it easier for the FAA to make an airworthiness determination.

So basically if all that needs to be done ois to fit the cowling on and fire up the engine as long as there is a build log from the previous builder i can certify it in experimental category pass the faa inspection even if i know little about the build and test fly it myself .  Then i need an a and p to do the yearly conditional but not the initial inspection or sign off any of my work ?  What can you do with a project that has no build logs ? 

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4 hours ago, Ratdog said:

Im thinking of buying a specific Varieze project and Im confused about the 51% rule and all the B.S. that seems to swirl around the topic on the internet.  This project is basically an unpainted airframe without an engine or instruments . I would be finishing the painting , instruments , control hookups ,engine mounting , interior etc.  What do I do if I complete it and the FAA inspector says I didn't build enough of it .  How can I register and test fly the aircraft and ultimately certify it. Some say the FAA interprets 51% as amateur built not necessarily built by me but built by another amateur .  Does anyone know the real story .

Many people know the real story.

A) There is no "51% rule". There is a "major portion" rule, which states that the "major portion" of an aircraft must have been built for "education and recreation" in order to meet the requirements for an Experimental Amateur Built Airworthiness Certificate. Doesn't matter if one person or 735 people built it, as long as the "major portion" of the aircraft wasn't built by people getting paid to do so, but were doing it to recreate and learn.

Since a Varieze is a plans built plane, as long as you're not paying someone to build it for you, it WILL qualify for an E-AB AC. Since there are no logs, you can't prove that it wasn't built by someone for $$$, but neither can anyone prove that it was. The chance that an FAA inspector or DAR will refuse an E-AB certificate for a Varieze, if you can talk knowledgeably about the build, is as close to zero as one can get. It's NOT what I'd be worried about.

Finish the plane, take pics and document what you did, explain that you picked it up as an airframe built by other folks in their garages, and smile when they hand you the AC.

And _IF_ you can prove to the FAA that you know enough about the airplane, you may also get the Repairmans Certificate, of which each plane can only have one and goes to the "primary builder", a term for which there is zero definition. Any of the many builders can be called the "primary builder" and get the RC. And if you don't get the RC, then you'll need an A&P for the annual Condition Inspection, but not for anything else.

The EAA has more explanations on their website as well. If, for reasons that elude me, you want to build this Varieze from an existing project, do so - you'll get the AC without an issue.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Can anyone tell me how practical it is to store a varieze off airport .  I know rutan designed it so the wings come off easily . Is it practical to do that single handed if you have home made riggers etc .   Can i hide it under a tarp in my garage so my wife doesnt know i have it ? 🤪

There was at least one guy that trailered his Vari to the airport and trailered it home.  I don't do that on my Cozy but I can remove the wings by myself using two sawhorses with adjustable 2x4 bars that I can use to support the wings and align them for reattachment.  I can lift a Cozy wing myself but it's awkward.  Probably very EZ with a Vari .  The canard would have to come off too which might take 15 mins if it is built with quick-disconnects in the control linkage.  So with the right setup, I imagine you could have the wings and canard off in an hour to 45 mins.  Then you have to winch the plane on a trailer or build one low to the ground and strap it everything down.  That introduces the possibility of a tipback (although with the wings off, the nose is heavier).   When things get too hard, there is a tendency not to fly very often.

I made a full cover for my Cozy III which was OK.   Sunbrella fabric.  It kept the airplane clean and was not too much hassle to remove.  That's probably a better idea than trailering

N509MS-cover.jpg

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-Kent
Cozy IV N13AM-750 hrs, Long-EZ-85 hrs and sold

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Over the canopy I used this kind of car-cover fabric which is fairly soft (pic).  I imagine a microfiber fabric would be better though.  BTW, there are several grades of Sunbrella and some of them are almost too stiff to work with.  The stuff I used was a medium grade which got softer with age.  You'd probably need an industrial machine to sew it though.  It took lots of fitting and trips to the airport to get it done but it's not hard to do.

I suspect anything is going to make mild scratches on the plexy but they can be removed with plastic polish.

O98-big.JPG

Edited by Kent Ashton
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-Kent
Cozy IV N13AM-750 hrs, Long-EZ-85 hrs and sold

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