Why are warbirds classified experimental?

Discussion in 'General Experimental Aviation Questions' started by smoore, Apr 18, 2007.

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  1. Apr 18, 2007 #1

    smoore

    smoore

    smoore

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    I have two theories:

    1) They have all been taken apart and rebuilt, therefore they are amateur-built.

    2) They wouldn't pass FAA muster, being from a different era and put together with the expectation they wouldn't be used after the war, assuming they survived.

    Am I close?
     
  2. Apr 18, 2007 #2

    orion

    orion

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    To the best of my knowledge, warbirds are "Experimental" simply because they never went through an actual civilian approved certification process nor came off a certified production line (translated - no paperwork). And no, they are not viewed as amateur built.

    The classification for warbirds is actually "Experimental/Exhibition", which is a substantially more restrictive classification than just "Experimental". Part of this is due to their unique mission and part is because they were not kit or plans built and as such are beyond the scope of the "Experimental Category's" intention. This also applies to ground-up restorations since technically, the build is being conducted with production parts.

    Before I bought my current airplane I looked at buying a Yugoslavian Utva - sort of a Cessna 180 on steroids. Although it looked like the basic Cessna, it was actually developed for a military mission (observation) and sold to the GA market as military surplus. The one I was looking at was in Canada, where the restrictions are not as significant.

    By bringing it to the US though, it would have needed to be classified under the "Experimental/Exhibition" category, which basically states that the airplane's primary purpose is to be used only for show and demonstration purposes. To keep within the letter of the law, the airplane is allowed to fly only within a limited radius of your home field and to shows. For the latter, you have to file a flight plan some time before you leave (days) and state the route of flight, from which you are not supposed to deviate except for an emergency. Furthermore, each year you need to file a plan that lists the shows you plan on attending and you will be assigned about a 100 mile corridor to each of the destination.

    A few folks have found a few loopholes in this and often file for shows all around the country, thus covering the US with enough flight corridors to be able to travel just about anywhere. But this is a gray area since technically you still need to announce each flight to the FAA regardless of where you go or when. I think you also have to periodically refile for your certificate.

    This is why I didn't buy that airplane - too much paperwork and hassle. The result would most likely be that I just wouldn't get the use out of the airplane since I couldn't simply hop in and go.
     
  3. Apr 20, 2007 #3

    macosxuser

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    Sounds like a spot-on explanation to me. I have one question though. It seems that Fighter Rebuilders and Chino is putting together a 'from scratch' P51A. My current thinking is that they will be able to put that into Experimental Homebuilt catagory (they are fabbing the airframe parts all themselves. Don't know about stuff like landing gear)... what do you think? All new airframe would be like building a RV and putting a used Cessna 172 engine, avionics, brakes, wheels etc on it. It should work ...
     
  4. Apr 20, 2007 #4

    org

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    A lot depends on the FAA office and individual issuing the restrictions. I've found by talking to owners of some of these airplanes that often the "radius" is so large that basically they can go anywhere in the US. I suspect it also depends on the perceived reliability and safety of the type in question.


     
  5. Apr 20, 2007 #5

    orion

    orion

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    Building an airplane from scratch will most likely be the general Experimental category. But being that it's being built by an organization rather than a private individual, may have some complictions, although I'm not sure what they would be.
     
  6. Apr 21, 2007 #6

    smoore

    smoore

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    Thanks for the detailed explanation.

    I was thinking along those lines for my "number two" theory. I wasn't trying to say that the aircraft itself wasn't good enough for the FAA but that because of the way they were produced they didn't get certified. I realize reading back that I sort of slandered the planes in question and that wasn't my intention.

    Obviously the things were built like brick outhouses, the lack of paperwork certainly explains it.

    So, on another note... what happens if I buy something like an old cub that's just a basket case? New skin all around, some frame repair required, no engine, controls or avionics left. That would become an amateur-built experimental, correct? If it passed the 51% rule would I become the repairman?
     
  7. Apr 21, 2007 #7

    orion

    orion

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    If all that's to be done is repair and skin, and install new engine and controls, then that is not an experimental. It may be a repair or reconstruction but not a kit or scratch build. The problem is further complicated in that you'd be using certified production parts. That alone may knock it out of the possibility. But the latter may be a function of your local MIDO office.

    Usually, any time you build or rebuild an airplane using certified parts, the FAA will frown on the idea that it would be classified as experimental. But I have heard of a gentleman locally who took a Taylorcraft frame, then built from scratch his own wings and tail feathers, and was allowed to license it as a homebuilt so I guess the determination will be in the details and in who does your inspection and paperwork.
     
  8. Apr 21, 2007 #8

    smoore

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    Great, thanks. I'm not considering rebuilding something, just trying to get my head around what the FAA calls an experimental.
     
  9. Apr 21, 2007 #9

    macosxuser

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    Yep, you will have to work with a DAR or FSDO representative during construction/rebuild to prove the 51% built rule. In theory it works fine, but it is less common.
     
  10. Apr 22, 2007 #10

    wally

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    As far as building a P-51A "from scratch" from what I have heard, they already have tooling developed and all the drawings and have "rebuilt" several mustangs. I heard many years ago they could build a D model wing from scratch and heard later most of the fuselage too. So by now they can build the D and A model fuselages too, no problem.

    My guess as to what they are really doing is that someone has obtained a P-51A data plate. That is all they need. Just the data plate with model and serial number. Well a LOT of money too! The "remainder of the plane" is just "repair and reconstruction". It will probably be licensed in the experimental/exibition category.
    Wally
     
  11. Apr 23, 2007 #11

    macosxuser

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    Nope, scratch-building it, no original data plate as far as I know. I think they are doing it specifically to get around the restrictions of the "experimental/exhibition" category. I can't recall for sure, but it MAY be that it is being built AT fighter rebuilders by an individual, using their tools. That would allow for an individual builder, and satisfy the "Experiemental/Homebuilt" requirements.

    I want to build a P-38... :D
     
  12. Apr 23, 2007 #12

    org

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    I'm not sure life is long enough for one person to build a P-51A from scratch....;)

    Olen

     
  13. Apr 23, 2007 #13

    Othman

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    In order for an aircraft to be called "Airworthy" it must have two documents:

    1. Type Certificate (wich is backed by the Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS) which contains a detailed description of the aircraft configuration and operating limits). This is done at the design side. Homebuilts and some older production aircraft don't have TC's.

    2. Certificate of Airworthiness. This certifies that all the nuts and bolts are in the right place (more on the maintenance side of things).

    The "Experimental" designation falls under the the Certificate of Airworthiness Category (Special Airworthiness Certificates). There are different classes under the Experimental category as seen below:

    ________________________________________________

    Sec. 21.191 Experimental certificates.

    Experimental certificates are issued for the following purposes:
    (a) Research and development. Testing new aircraft design concepts, new aircraft equipment, new aircraft installations, new aircraft operating techniques, or new uses for aircraft.
    (b) Showing compliance with regulations. Conducting flight tests and other operations to show compliance with the airworthiness regulations including flights to show compliance for issuance of type and supplemental type certificates, flights to substantiate major design changes, and flights to show compliance with the function and reliability requirements of the regulations.
    (c) Crew training. Training of the applicant's flight crews.
    (d) Exhibition. Exhibiting the aircraft's flight capabilities, performance, or unusual characteristics at air shows, motion picture, television, and similar productions, and the maintenance of exhibition flight proficiency, including (for persons exhibiting aircraft) flying to and from such air shows and productions.
    (e) Air racing. Participating in air races, including (for such participants) practicing for such air races and flying to and from racing events.
    (f) Market surveys. Use of aircraft for purposes of conducting market surveys, sales demonstrations, and customer crew training.
    (g) Operating amateur-built aircraft. Operating an aircraft the major portion of which has been fabricated and assembled by persons who undertook the construction project solely for their own education or recreation.
    ____________________________________________________________

    Although Warbirds and Homebuilts are "Experimentals", they are not considered the same.

    Sorry if I used some wrong nomenclature, there may be some slight differences between Canadian and American airworthiness jargin.

    Ashraf
     
  14. Apr 23, 2007 #14

    Othman

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  15. Apr 4, 2014 #15

    macdonca

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    A lot depends on how you present it to the inspector. Remember the "spirit" of the experimental amature built aircraft it that you scratch built at least 51% of the aircraft yourself. You can literally purchase every single piece for a cub on the aftermarket and assemble it and call it a plan, however you "assembled it", not "built it". Also as far as I know, if your "build" qualifies more as an "assembly" (as in you purchased an unfinished project and finished it) the FAA may issue you an airworthyness cert but NOT issue you a repairman cert for that aircraft, depending on how much work you did or didnt do. It makes sense, if you didnt do the work in the first place your not qualified to repair it. Alas just build your own PA-18 frame, its not that difficult and much less expensive than aquiring a basket case.
     
  16. Apr 4, 2014 #16

    bmcj

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    For starters, you picked up a discussion that has been inactive for 7 years... no harm, no foul though.

    I wanted to add a clarification that I did not see here. That is, if the plane was a factory built certified plane (with a dataplate) as is suggested here when smoore said "something like an old cub", the FAA will not issue an E-AB certificate. They may grant an speciaal exhibition certificate, but not E-AB. It is even getting hard for someone building a Breezy to get licensed if they use wings or tail off of a factory built and certified plane. YMMV
     

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