FAA Kit Evaluators Tune Up
New Kit Approval Process
The FAA’s National Kit Evaluation Team (NKET) made Sonex Aircraft LLC, Oshkosh, its first stop in a series of training events for those assessing new
kits under the revised amateur-built policy released in
October. Nine evaluators spent three days at Sonex using one of the manufacturer’s approved kits as a test bed
to establish a baseline for future new kit evaluations.
“I’m here with my team to essentially practice and
obtain the protocols and procedures that we are going
to use, establish our methodology, and make sure we
employ a standard in evaluating amateur-built manufactured kits from here forward,” one NKET member said.
The FAA selected Sonex because its aircraft are of sheet
metal design, one of the most popular types of aircraft
construction methods. The NKET will visit two other kit
manufacturers, including Velocity Aircraft in Sebastian,
Florida, to evaluate composite kits, and a tube and fabric
manufacturer (yet to be determined) in the Midwest.
According to NKET representatives, a typical team
will have at least two evaluators drawn from all four
FAA directorates and FAA headquarters. The four directorates have their own specialties: large airplane, small
airplane, rotorcraft, and engines/propellers.
“The important part is that it’s providing the consistency and standardization, and that’s something that
NKET members work with Sonex CEO Jeremy Monnett (
kneeling-left) on a kit evaluation at the Sonex facility in Oshkosh.
the amateur-built ARC really stressed,” said one NKET
member. “It will narrow it down from 150 inspectors
that could do a kit evaluation to eight.”
Also on hand to assist and observe the process during
the NKET training were EAA’s Vice President of Industry and Regulatory Affairs and ARC Co-Chairman, Earl
Lawrence and EAA Homebuilders Community Manager,
“The National Kit Evaluation Team is a major step forward for the FAA. Now it will be easier for kit manufacturers to have their kits evaluated, and the evaluations
will be standardized across the country,” said Norris.
Members Aim to Resurrect Bugatti Racer
Two Oklahoma EAA members—Scotty Wilson, EAA 57255, and Gregg Carlson, EAA 1015379—are hop- ing to create a true replica of the Bugatti Model 100
racer. The sleek machine was built by famed automobile
maker Ettore Bugatti and engineer Louis de Monge to
compete in an air race before the
outbreak of World War II, but it
wasn’t finished in time. When the
German army marched on Paris in
June 1940, the project was abandoned before the airplane ever
flew. Eventually, it was brought
to America by car aficionado Ray
Jones to acquire its engines. In
1996, the aircraft was donated to
EAA, and it’s on display at EAA’s
In mid-October, Wilson and
Carlson came to EAA to identify
the plane’s airfoil using a “
Profiler,” an electronic plotter that rolls
along the wing’s surface transferring data to a computer for analysis. Because there is no
comprehensive set of drawings covering the entire aircraft, “the only way to build one is to backwards engineer
it,” said Wilson. “It is absolutely essential that we be able
to accurately determine what airfoil is on the plane,” Wilson stressed.
Some aviation enthusiasts insist that, since the aircraft
has never flown, it is not historically significant, but Wilson
vehemently disagrees. “Five patents were issued to Bugatti for the
airplane—many of which appeared
on other aircraft after the war,” he
said, including the dual drive train,
the flight control tail that mixes
the elevator and the rudder, and
the automatic flaps system, which
pre-dates the F- 16’s by 40 years.
Construction of the replica
started in May. The fuselage shell
is finished, and Wilson expects to
complete the empennage and fuselage this winter.
The replica racer is being built
to accommodate the Bugatti 50B
engines modified for aircraft use,
turning two metal, ground-adjustable, contra-rotating Ratier propellers, but the likely powerplants will be two late-
1990s/early 2000s BMW engines.
Resurrecting the Bugatti Racer