Restoring homebuilt, what are the legal hurdles

Homebuilt Aircraft & Kit Plane Forum

Help Support Homebuilt Aircraft & Kit Plane Forum:

dwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2021
Messages
364
Location
Tennessee
I picked up a plans built aircraft that was registered in 1978, and was had an N-number registered to it until 2013. It currently has no panel, no powerplant, and it looks as if the data tag has been removed. I originally thought the airplane in terrible condition and was going to scrap it for parts for another project, however when I picked it up and looked it over I am leaning towards restoring it to flying condition.
What legal hurdles do I face, and what do I need to do to satisfy the FAA? My (admittedly near childlike) understanding is that I can restore the aircraft myself, apply for an N-number at some point, when its done have an A&P do an annual, then fly it.
My concern is that since there is no data plate or other documentation, a reasonable argument (yes, I understand we are dealing with a .gov agency and the word reasonable should not often be used) can be made to once the aircraft is all back together, at that time it would need to have a DAR do an airworthiness inspection, sign off on a 40 hour test, then get a new airworthiness certificate.

Help?
 

Dana

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 3, 2007
Messages
10,047
Location
CT, USA
Absent the data plate and bill of sale from the last registered owner (or paper trail from that owner), you have a pile of parts, not an airplane. You could use "some" of those parts to build a new airplane, but one of the requirements is to prove that the plane was amateur built "for the purpose of education or recreation", i.e. a build log. How much "some" can be depends on the DAR who signs it off.

What does the FAA show as the reason for deregistration? If it's just "expired", and if you can track down the 2013 owner and get a bill of sale, it gets easier... but if the paperwork and data plate are missing it's possible that the owner reported it "scrapped" in a misguided approach to avoid liability, so you'd be out of luck.
 

TFF

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
15,404
Location
Memphis, TN
The two broad sides are these; you are not restoring but making a new airplane and registering as new or trying to collect past papers that allow it to be its original self.

If you try to do “new”, you will have to document you building an airplane. Take a lot a part. Old work has to be convincing that it’s just a project that has take forever.

If you can get a replacement airworthiness certificate with the original certification, it’s a restoration project like any other. That piece of paper makes it an airplane or not.

Technically your not supposed to do the first. The FAA dimly views two sets of papers for one plane. Doesn’t matter to them if you don’t have access; that part is not their problem. Number two requires some sort of lineage for you to claim it is your plane.

I had a buddy that was in my opinion done right by the FAA although it was a total mess. He got a homebuilt that went to Canada as a project, and then came back as a project. It got restored and signed off, but when my friend bought it and wanted to put a different engine on it, he did it correctly by getting new operating instructions so he could be legal at his airport. The guy who restored it put in that it was the plane before it went to Canada. The paper work was not adding up. With the repatriation from Canada. The plane is restored looking good and it’s about to be scrapped, but the FAA eased up enough to pass the paperwork but required a 40 hour fly off. The guy who restored it clearly had friends who took his word it was all square. I don’t think there was foul play, but it was not as it should have been.
 

dwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2021
Messages
364
Location
Tennessee
The two broad sides are these; you are not restoring but making a new airplane and registering as new or trying to collect past papers that allow it to be its original self.

If you try to do “new”, you will have to document you building an airplane. Take a lot a part. Old work has to be convincing that it’s just a project that has take forever.

If you can get a replacement airworthiness certificate with the original certification, it’s a restoration project like any other. That piece of paper makes it an airplane or not.

Technically your not supposed to do the first. The FAA dimly views two sets of papers for one plane. Doesn’t matter to them if you don’t have access; that part is not their problem. Number two requires some sort of lineage for you to claim it is your plane.

I had a buddy that was in my opinion done right by the FAA although it was a total mess. He got a homebuilt that went to Canada as a project, and then came back as a project. It got restored and signed off, but when my friend bought it and wanted to put a different engine on it, he did it correctly by getting new operating instructions so he could be legal at his airport. The guy who restored it put in that it was the plane before it went to Canada. The paper work was not adding up. With the repatriation from Canada. The plane is restored looking good and it’s about to be scrapped, but the FAA eased up enough to pass the paperwork but required a 40 hour fly off. The guy who restored it clearly had friends who took his word it was all square. I don’t think there was foul play, but it was not as it should have been.
Yes, I had a long time canardian over today to look at the project and he feels confident that the amount of work needed to make this "loosely assembled pile of parts" into a flying machine would meet the 50% requirement. His recommendation was to get with a DAR familiar with the aircraft type and see if they want to do an initial inspection, then as you said, document the building of an airplane from those parts.

We checked the N number again while he was here and it is Deregistered with no reason as to why, but not scrapped or salvaged, just expired.

Absent the data plate and bill of sale from the last registered owner (or paper trail from that owner), you have a pile of parts, not an airplane. You could use "some" of those parts to build a new airplane, but one of the requirements is to prove that the plane was amateur built "for the purpose of education or recreation", i.e. a build log. How much "some" can be depends on the DAR who signs it off.

What does the FAA show as the reason for deregistration? If it's just "expired", and if you can track down the 2013 owner and get a bill of sale, it gets easier... but if the paperwork and data plate are missing it's possible that the owner reported it "scrapped" in a misguided approach to avoid liability, so you'd be out of luck.
It just shows as expired, so It looks like there is a reasonable path to re-certification.
 

TFF

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
15,404
Location
Memphis, TN
Deregistered is not that big of a deal, all that will do is loose the present N number if someone grabbed it. finding out if the airworthiness was returned to the FAA is a big deal. That makes it yard art technically. That is when it has to be a new build. If the airworthiness is still available, the FAA can ask for the log books and ownership lineage if it’s not registered just to make sure it’s something real. The FAA visited my friend to make sure it was a real airplane. It being pretty probably helped convince them not to scrap it. Picking is what makes it hard either way, you have to work in some grey area to pull it off, and you pretty much have to pick and stick to the script.
 

Doran Jaffas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Messages
484
The two broad sides are these; you are not restoring but making a new airplane and registering as new or trying to collect past papers that allow it to be its original self.

If you try to do “new”, you will have to document you building an airplane. Take a lot a part. Old work has to be convincing that it’s just a project that has take forever.

If you can get a replacement airworthiness certificate with the original certification, it’s a restoration project like any other. That piece of paper makes it an airplane or not.

Technically your not supposed to do the first. The FAA dimly views two sets of papers for one plane. Doesn’t matter to them if you don’t have access; that part is not their problem. Number two requires some sort of lineage for you to claim it is your plane.

I had a buddy that was in my opinion done right by the FAA although it was a total mess. He got a homebuilt that went to Canada as a project, and then came back as a project. It got restored and signed off, but when my friend bought it and wanted to put a different engine on it, he did it correctly by getting new operating instructions so he could be legal at his airport. The guy who restored it put in that it was the plane before it went to Canada. The paper work was not adding up. With the repatriation from Canada. The plane is restored looking good and it’s about to be scrapped, but the FAA eased up enough to pass the paperwork but required a 40 hour fly off. The guy who restored it clearly had friends who took his word it was all square. I don’t think there was foul play, but it was not as it should have been.
Heading to what you just said here I have had several encounters with the FAA regarding homebuilt projects. at least my local physical, anyway is very receptive to helping get an aircraft we registered and airworthy however they will require a new test period. If you can get the original builder logs that would help. Most of the time the fsdo rep isn't going to be too concerned about the signatures but you do need to be in good standing with them. They do understand that projects get started and stopped and switch owners several times throughout the course of their lifetime. there's not difficult but you must be friendly and the minute you get smart with them they will shut you down. It can take time, agonizingly sometimes a lot of time but for the most part if you work with them they will work with you.
 

Dana

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 3, 2007
Messages
10,047
Location
CT, USA
When I bought my Fisher 404, the airworthiness certificate was missing and the person I bought it from had never registered or flown it, and had neglected to get a proper bill of sale from the previous owner. I was able to contact the previous owner and get a bill of sale, then I had to apply to the FSDO for a replacement airworthiness certificate. They didn't need to see the plane, but they wanted to see the logbooks, to verify that all the proper signoffs had been done (initial airworthiness inspection and completion of the 40 hour test period). It was relatively painless, except for having to use a vacation day from work to drive to the FSDO. But in my case the registration hadn't been cancelled, and I had all the proper paperwork except for the AWC.

When I applied for a new AWC for my Hatz so I could get updated operating limitations, they wanted to see the plane as well as the logs, but exchanged the old for the new paperwork on the spot. They didn't really need to see the plane, but it was a nice day to be out of the office for them and the older FAA guy wanted to show the new guy what experimentals look like.

As I've said elsewhere, when you call the FAA they're usually a good bunch of guys who will do their best to help you if you're reasonable about it. When they call you, you're probably going to have a bad day... :fear:
 

dwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2021
Messages
364
Location
Tennessee
Was it deregistered or did the registration expire and was not renewed?

Expired. It reads :


Aircraft has been Deregistered
Last Action Date2007-11-20 Cancel Date2013-09-11

and

StatusRegistration Expired – Pending Cancellation
 
Top