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Homebuilt aircraft in Spain?

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cluttonfred

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My wife and I are kicking around potential retirement locations and with family in France and a love of Morocco, Spain is an obvious possibility with European quality of life but a lower cost of living. Can any of our members speak to the environment for aircraft homebuilding and light aviation in Spain? In much of Europe, microlight regulations are much easier than those for larger aircraft, and I would be fine sticking to homebuilt microlights, but the ability to purusue my hobby interests is critical. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Cheers, Matthew
 

Armilite

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My wife and I are kicking around potential retirement locations and with family in France and a love of Morocco, Spain is an obvious possibility with European quality of life but a lower cost of living. Can any of our members speak to the environment for aircraft homebuilding and light aviation in Spain? In much of Europe, microlight regulations are much easier than those for larger aircraft, and I would be fine sticking to homebuilt microlights, but the ability to purusue my hobby interests is critical. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Cheers, Matthew
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It might be wise to write each of these different Countrys and ask for their Rules on different Airplanes and Flight Restrictions. Each Country will have different Rules.
You might be able to Google them also. You would have the Paris Air Show close by to go to.

https://phantompilots.com/threads/regulations-for-spain.55583/

"Aeromodelismo activity is regulated by the Royal Aeronautical Federation of Spain and in addition, each region and each municipality may have its regulation practice this sport or recreational, but they must always respect the general aviation legislation.
Model aircraft flying below 100 meters high and can not fly over or on urban population groups (beaches, concerts, the streets of any city, etc ...) cores. They must fly in designated areas. Otherwise, sanctions can be assumed and should be reported.
Therefore individuals who acquire a general store a lightweight and easy to use system with radio control (R / C) and GPS, with or without built-in camera, computer or buy a kit to assemble a multirotor with autopilot, with a mini- camera, or build themselves an airplane for FPV (flight "first person view") with front view camera, autopilot, streaming video, may only be used in designated areas under the regulation rules model aircraft activities. Should consult the rules of your municipality or autonomous region, also it is recommended to be put in contact with a model airplane club in your area to fly model aircraft safely. In no case they may use for professional or commercial activity."

What You Need to Know Before Traveling to Morocco.
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/halle-eavelyn/what-you-need-to-know-bef_b_4740418.html

Foreign travel advice Morocco
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/morocco
 

oriol

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Hi Matthew!


There´s plenty of ULM (mtow 450 kg), skydiving, sailplane, ballooning, paraglider and hanglider activity all over Spain.
Theres is an equivalent to the Part 103 but the weight limit is of 75 kgs, otherwise you have to deal with the ULM regs.

As for the homebuilder scene there is a EAA chapter based in Cáceres but homebuilders are spread all over the territory.
Although there are many small airstrips they are not very close from the big cities.

Perhaps the Empordà (Pals) might be a place to consider as a potential retirement location. There are some small airstrips in there, the weather is fantastic and you are very close to the French border and yes you can get to Morocco in just one day flying.


Oriol
 

cluttonfred

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Thanks, guys.

Armilite, the info you posted appears to be about radio-controlled model aircraft, not homebuilt aircraft, in Spain.

I lived three years in Morocco and I know it's not a very aviation-friendly country, I had a friend with a Bonanza there and he eventually sold it because it was a pain just to get to his plane to wash it and perform basic maintenance, never mind fly. It's certainly doable for a flying holiday but I wouldn't want to try to build or even base a plane there.

I have lived off and on in France for many years (my wife is French) and I know that it is a surprisingly open and welcoming place for homebuilts and microlights--Europeans from many neighboring countries choose to register and base their aircraft in France because the rules are quite easy. But, I am looking ahead to retirement in the not-too-distant future, which means a reduced income, and the cost of living.

Oriol, thanks very much for the suggestion of Pals and the Empordà region generally. I actually spent a few weekends in Barcelona when I was a student in France about 30 years ago. As I spoke French it was actually easier to pick up some Catalan, and a young American who spoke a little Catalan was a big hit with the locals. ;-) I do speak some Spanish now.

My real concerns about Spain are how receptive the Spanish authorities are in practice to homebuilts generally and how hard it would be to develop a new homebuilt design there. Like I said, I realize that the answers for general aviation and microlights might be different and I am happy to stick to microlights.

Cheers.

Matthew
 

oriol

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Matthew,


The process to get the approval by the aviation authorities to develop a homebuilt project (ULM) in Spain is similar to that in France, the only difference is the language. I would say that the process is similar to that in the US, an inspector comes to see the build before it is covered with fabric and the like. If you do things right regarding safety you do not have to worry about the authorities and the paperwork.

It is good that you speak French and some Spanish/Catalan. As you probably know many foreigners who come to live and retire in southern Europe who do not speak the local languages live in a sort of bubble with very little interaction with local people.


Oriol
 

oriol

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TFF,


I think you are exaggerating how difficult it is to register a homebuilt aircraft in Europe, or in Spain in particular.
The link you posted does not say a word about homebuilding in Spain.
Around 22% of the airplanes registered in Spain are homebuilts, the great majority of them are of 450kg MTOW.

In Spain like in France most sport aviation and homebuilding takes place in airstrips and most people use MoGas.
If you fly a certified airplane and you fly with AvGas the costs increase significantly since you are, sometimes when flying cross country, forced to refuel in big airports which involves paying landing fees etc.


Oriol
 

cluttonfred

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I got my French microlight rating in a German plane with an Austrian engine registered in France flying from a Belgian airfield with a Dutch instructor while I was living in Luxembourg. When it works, European integration can be great fun. It is true than landing fees and cranky air traffic controllers and all the rest can make general aviation in Europe more challenging, which is why I would plan to stick to the microlight end of the spectrum. For what it's worth, there was one VP-1 on the Spanish amateur-built registry (EC-YNM, now canceled) so maybe I could argue that a VP-2 is just a variant. ;-)
 

Doggzilla

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As you've pointed out, getting maintenance done on full size aircraft is difficult due to how rare they are compared to the US.

It would probably be a good idea to stick to a common engine, such as a rotax 912. You may be unable to have more uncommon engines serviced.
 

Aerowerx

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Dogzilla
It would probably be a good idea to stick to a common engine, such as a rotax 912. You may be unable to have more uncommon engines serviced.
A common engine here may not be a common engine in Spain. A VW may actually be better, and I know that BMW motorcycle engines are popular in Europe.

Cluttonfred, the most succesful Janowski J-1B is in Spain. EC-ZKB is the tail number, but I don't remember the guys name. My point? If you can afford the move, go for it!
 

TFF

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I was hoping the aero club list will be helpful because that is where he will probably be flying from. Registering a known homebuilt design should not be a big deal, but a fresh design would take a bunch of work. Mainly the accepted engineering data. Too much for the first time builder. I don't think the desire is there for that much work. My thinking is get flying, then you can go for what you want.
 

PTAirco

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I seem to remember from long ago that flying itself is highly regulated in Spain, involving things like notifying various bureaucracies in advance just for a few circuits around the pattern. My information may be old though.

France is probably the most liberal European country when it comes to building and flying homebuilts and microlights.
 

berridos

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Only if you start from a regulated airport. There are lots of unregulated airstrips, where you havent to report a flight plan.
 

cluttonfred

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Picking up on a thread from a couple of months ago, the statistics in Oriol's link above (https://aeroclub.es/2016/03/situacion-de-los-ulm-en-espana/) are very interesting. Over 7,000 light aircraft, 45% of which are either amateur-built or microlights. 86% of the amateur-built aircraft are microlight category (under 450 kg gross weight), which means that 42% of all light aircraft in Spain are under that maximum weight. This does seem to reinforce the idea that, unless you have very deep pockets, light homebuilts are way to go in Spain.
 

Twodeaddogs

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probably as a result of a mentality that light GA only exists to generate airline pilots / old boys pottering about with Cubs. Governments love regulating the daylights out of light aviation, for no good reason.
 

Chris Young

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Hi,

I have no experience building an airplane in Spain, but flying a homebuilt from France only required an authorisation letter, to be asked long enough in advance because the administration is not very reactive, but that was obtained without any trouble, so I guess they are not too nervous about homebuilts.

As far as engines are concerned, plenty of local options to choose from. I don't know what are the usual ones in the US for microlights, but we have a lot of small car engines and motorcycle engines that have been put on light airplanes/gyros/microlights for which you can find parts easily. (and of course the Rotax are aplenty)
 

erkki67

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As you've pointed out, getting maintenance done on full size aircraft is difficult due to how rare they are compared to the US.

It would probably be a good idea to stick to a common engine, such as a rotax 912. You may be unable to have more uncommon engines serviced.
I service my engine, Rotax or not Rotax, no one else is touching my engine.
 
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