|The information contained on this page was assembled from FAA websites during my own research into registering and certificating amateur-built experimental aircraft. It was current in 2019, but may not be now. Please use it for what it's worth, but your mileage may vary.|
The Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR part 21) provide for the issuance of FAA Form 8130-7, Special Airworthiness Certificate, in the experimental category to permit the operation of amateur-built aircraft. Section 21.191(g) defines an amateur-built aircraft as an aircraft, the major portion of which has been fabricated and assembled by person(s) who undertook the construction project solely for their own education or recreation. Commercially produced components and parts which are normally purchased for use in aircraft may be used including engines and engine accessories, propellers, tires, spring steel landing gear, main and tail rotor blades, rotor hubs, wheel and brake assemblies, forgings, castings, extrusions, and standard aircraft hardware such as pulleys, bellcranks, rod ends, bearings, bolts, rivets, etc.
The FAA has designated some private persons to act in its behalf in the inspection of amateur-built aircraft and the issuance of airworthiness certificates. These persons are known as Designated Airworthiness Representatives (DAR). The amateur-builder may contact the local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) or Manufacturing Inspection District Office (MIDO) for assistance.
Note: AC 20-27G contains a detailed explanation of the registration process. I suggest that you begin the process by thoroughly reading it.
The procedures contained in this order apply to both Aircraft Certification Manufacturing and Flight Standards Airworthiness Aviation Safety Inspectors, and to private persons/organizations (DARs) delegated authority to issue airworthiness certificates and related approvals. Chapter 4, Section 1 provides general guidance material associated with special airworthiness certification. Chapter 4, Section 7 provides specific information for special airworthiness certification of experimental amateur-built aircraft.
1. What is a special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category?
This certificate is issued to operate an aircraft that does not have a type certificate or does not conform to its type certificate. Additionally, this certificate is issued to operate kit-built aircraft that were assembled without the supervision and quality control of the production certificate holder. Special airworthiness certificates may be issued in the experimental category for the following purposes:
Research and development: to conduct aircraft operations as a matter of research or to determine if an idea warrants further development. Typical uses for this certificate include new equipment installations, operational techniques or new use, or pure research.
Showing compliance with regulations: to show compliance to the CFR when an applicant has revised the type certificate design data or has applied for a supplemental type certificate or field approval.
Crew training: for training the applicant’s flight crews in experimental aircraft for subsequent operation of aircraft being flight tested in Type Certificate programs or for production flight testing.
Exhibition: to exhibit an aircraft’s flight capabilities, performance, or unusual characteristics for air shows, motion pictures, television, and similar productions, and for the maintenance of exhibition flight proficiency.
Air racing: to operate an aircraft in air races, practice for air races, and to fly to and from racing events.
Market surveys: to conduct market surveys, sales demonstrations, and customer crew training for U.S. manufacturers of aircraft or engines.
Operating amateur-built aircraft: to operate an amateur-built aircraft in which the major portion has been fabricated and assembled by persons for their own recreation or education. An aircraft built from a kit may also be eligible for amateur-built certification.
Operating kit-built aircraft: to operate a primary category aircraft that was assembled by a person from a kit manufactured by the holder of a production certificate for that kit, without the supervision and quality control of the production certificate holder.
2. How do I obtain a special airworthiness certificate?
The general process for obtaining a special airworthiness certificate is defined in the following steps:
1. Register the aircraft.
2. Submit formal application.
3. Determine aircraft eligibility.
4. Issue special airworthiness certificate.
If you are interested in obtaining a special airworthiness certificate for your aircraft, contact your local FAA Manufacturing Inspection District Office or Flight Standards District Office to obtain registration and application forms as necessary and answers to any specific questions.
You must register your aircraft following the procedures identified in 14 CFR part 47, Aircraft Registration.
You must submit an original copy of FAA Form 8050-1, along with a Bill of Sale, FAA Form 8050-2 (original form only), and a check made out to the FAA for $5.00.
The FAA Registration Branch (P.O. Box 25504, Oklahoma City,
Oklahoma,73125) maintains the Civil Aviation Registry and can
provide detailed information regarding the FAA's aircraft registration
process, forms, and related information.
Step 2. Submit Formal Application.
The registered owner of the aircraft or the agent of the owner must submit FAA Form 8130-6, Application for Airworthiness Certificate, to the nearest FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) or Manufacturing Inspection District Office (MIDO) in the geographic area where the aircraft is located. The local FAA office may require that additional documentation be submitted with the application such as:
Aircraft registration documents
A statement of purpose for which the aircraft is to be used
Configuration data such as three-view drawings or photographs
Current weight and balance report
A notarized FAA Form 8130-12, Eligibility Statement for Amateur-Built Aircraft
An aircraft is eligible for a special airworthiness certificate when:
The aircraft is properly registered in accordance with 14 CFR part 47.
The FAA has determined that all application information is accurate.
Nationality marks, registration marks, and identification plates are applied in accordance with 14 CFR part 45 and match the information provided on the applicant's application (FAA Form 8130-6).
A letter of denial has not been issued for any other application for airworthiness certification for this aircraft.
The FAA has completed an inspection of the
aircraft and determined that the aircraft conforms to its FAA-approved
type design (i.e., type certificate, supplemental type certificate, and
applicable airworthiness directives), if applicable, and is in a condition
for safe operation. This inspection typically verifies the
All cockpit instrumentation and placards are appropriately placed and marked.
Logbooks and/or other required maintenance records to include a current weight and balance report, and a listing of incorporated airworthiness directives, as applicable.
Proper operation of all aircraft systems, engines, and propellers.
For imported aircraft (i.e., restricted category of aircraft), the FAA will review any export certificate of airworthiness issued by another Civil Aviation Authority.
Once the FAA has determined that the aircraft is eligible for a special airworthiness certificate, the FAA will:
Issue a Special Airworthiness Certificate, FAA Form 8130-7, with the appropriate operating limitations.
Make an aircraft log book entry that the aircraft has been found to meet the requirements for the requested certificate, and that FAA Form 8130-7 has been issued.
Complete sections V and VIII of the Application for Airworthiness Certificate, FAA Form 8130-6.
Forward the appropriate airworthiness documentation to the FAA Civil Aviation Registry at:
Aircraft Registration Branch, AFS-750
PO Box 25504
Oklahoma City, OK 73125
Phone Number: (405) 954-3116