EAA Wins Approval for Vintage DERs
EAA’s Vintage Aircraft Association (VAA) and the FAA announced a new program to authorize des- ignated engineering representatives (DER) for
vintage aircraft. The new VDER designation should help
reduce the cost and complexity of obtaining engineering approvals for vintage aircraft.
DERs essentially are engineers-for-hire, recognized by
the FAA for their knowledge of a particular aircraft system—engines, electrical, structural. They play a crucial
role in keeping aircraft flying. When a vintage airplane
needs a major repair, a field modification, or a newly
fabricated part to replace an original part, the DER approves the engineering data, certifying that the data are
consistent with or superior to the original.
But vintage aircraft present a special challenge, said
VAA Executive Director H.G. Frautschy. “If you want to
hang a 90-horse engine on a plane that left the factory
with 65 horses, you might have to hire three DERs to
get the engineering approvals—an airframe DER, an engine DER, and a propeller DER,” he said.
Under the new program, the FAA will designate
VDERs whose demonstrated expertise covers an entire
vintage airplane. They will have “holistic” authority to
approve engineering data on any system or structure
on a specific aircraft, though a single VDER could apply for and receive separate VDER designations for multiple aircraft.
People who want to apply for VDER certification
should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org before submitting an application to the appropriate aircraft certification office.
Amateur Builders Anticipate
Final Report on Policy
Changes for 51 Percent Rule
EAA and amateur aircraft builders are anticipating a victory when the FAA publishes its final report on changes in policies for administering the amateur-built aircraft rules. Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president for industry and regulatory affairs, said the draft
final report leaves intact an amateur builder’s freedom
to build any kind of aircraft, of any type, size, and complexity, so long as he or she completes “the major portion” of the project—the “ 51 percent rule.”
The draft report would also preserve the option for
commercial builder assistance and affirms that existing
amateur-built kits would be grandfathered to minimize
the impact of FAA policy changes on kit manufacturers
and amateur builders and to ensure a fair transition to
the new policies over time.
The draft report abandons the so-called “20/20/11”
formula. Last year the agency proposed requiring amateur builders to show that at least 20 percent of the
amateur-built project involved “fabrication,” and no
more than 20 percent involved “assembly,” while the
remaining 11 percent (up to a total of 51 percent) could
be a combination of fabrication and assembly. EAA and
amateur builders argued that the proposed policy did
not draw a clear distinction between fabrication and assembly and that the 20/20/11 formula would be unnecessarily complicated and would do little to curb abuses
of the 51 percent rule.
The draft report also calls for the FAA to update the
amateur-built construction checklist for each kit on the
FAA approved kits list. The existing checklists use a “did
it/didn’t do it” format for each task. The new checklists
would allow the builder to document his or her con-
Border Crossing Discussed
EAAand AOPAare workingtoimprovebordercross- ings without imposing unnecessary burdens on general aviation aircraft. The two organizations
met with TSA and U.S. Customs & Border Protection
(CBP) representatives during AirVenture. As it stands pilots have to obtain two different approvals from two different agencies with different procedures and forms when
crossing the border.
“We’d like to see the two systems married up under the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS),” EAA Government Relations Director Randy Hansen said, “with the
data transferable between outgoing and incoming approvals, and either TSA or CBP handling both types of
“EAA can best serve its members and the whole GA
community by sitting down with DHS officials and talking with them,” said Doug Macnair, EAA vice president of
government relations. “Meetings like this during AirVenture can open new channels of communication and yield
benefits for our members far into the future.”
tribution to each task in more detail, without unduly
complicating the process of record-keeping.
Under the draft report, the FAA would also establish
a National Kit Evaluation Team to evaluate new and
existing kits to determine their conformity with the 51
percent rule. (Kits that are already on the FAA’s list of
approved kits will NOT be re-evaluated.) A single team
evaluating about 20 kits a year should provide quicker
and more consistent evaluations of kits at a lower cost
to manufacturers. Finally the draft report also notes
that previously type-certificated aircraft that have been
altered, modified, or repaired cannot be certificated as