Edsel W. Ford, Jr.
When does a group of parts or a machine that looks
like an aircraft really become an aircraft? Is it when the last rivet is driven?
No. Is it when the last piece of masking tape is removed? No. Then it has to be
when it is issued an airworthiness certificate'that has to be when it becomes an
aircraft. No again. So, when does it become an aircraft?
permission from FAA Aviation News
becomes an aircraft at the time of registration with the Federal Aviation
Administration's (FAA) Registration Branch, AFS-750, in Oklahoma City. AFS-750
will assign a registration number (N-number) and a manufacturer's code. Now the
FAA recognizes the machine as an aircraft no matter how complete. This is when
it becomes an aircraft.
receives paper work from the builder of the aircraft and as-signs a
manufacturer's code and issues an N-number. Before light-sport aircraft the
registration process was simpler. An aircraft owner generally had a
type-certificated aircraft or an amateur-built aircraft and the manufacturer's
code pretty much stayed in the background. Now the FAA has added light-sport
aircraft and increased the possibilities of how registration and certification
can be accomplished. This process of registration has normally been transparent
to an FAA aviation safety inspector or designated airworthiness representative
(DAR) who will issue the certificate of airworthiness. However, FAA inspectors
and DAR snow need to look to this code to deter-mine the type of airworthiness
an aircraft can receive.
Registry assigns an N-number and enters the manufacturer's descriptive code into
its computer system, this is the first step in the FAA's ability to track and
identify that individual aircraft, issue safety information, complete reports,
and answer questions. For example, you have a safety bulletin that needs to be
sent to the owners of light-sport powered parachutes. How do you accomplish
this? The process starts by researching the Registry database for certain codes
assigned to each affected aircraft.
started with the first step in the registration process, when the builder or
owner submitted an Application for Registration (FAA Form8050-1) and the
affidavit of ownership. Here is how it works.
A new aircraft
builder or owner submits to the Registry an Application for Registration (FAA
Form 8050-1) and either an Affidavit of Ownership for Experimental Aircraft,
Including Amateur-Built Aircraft and Other Non-Type Certificated Aircraft (FAA
Form 8050-88) or an Affidavit Of Ownership for Experimental or Special
Light-Sport Aircraft (FAA Form 8050-88A). The process of coding the aircraft
starts with the information provided on these forms. The FAA Form 8050-88
submitted to the registry will have as-signed to it a manufacturer's code
be-ginning with the numbers 056. The remaining numbers in the code will further
identify the aircraft, but we are only going to look at the first three numbers
in the code. If the FAA Form 8050-88A with the second option checked is
submitted, the aircraft will be assigned a manufacturer's code beginning with
059. This indicates an experimental light-sport aircraft (ELSA) code. If the
first option is checked, a code beginning 060 for special light-sport aircraft (SLSA)
code is assigned. The owner makes the determination on whether the aircraft is
going to be either amateur-built or light-sport special or light-sport
experimental when choosing which affidavit form to use and marking the options
on the form. The owner may not know the importance of the choices, but by making
the choices the owner made the de-termination on what airworthiness certificate
the aircraft will be able to receive.
submitted on the Application for Airworthiness (FAA Form 8130-6) only further
defines the code. It does not determine if the aircraft is an amateur-built or a
light sport. Most inspectors and DARs think that the 8130-6 is the assignment of
the classification of amateur-built or light sport, but that is not correct. It
was done with the submission of Form 8050-88 or 8050-88A as previously
mentioned. In fact, this is only where the coding for the aircraft is further
define the aircraft, look at section II, 'Certification Requested' on Form
8130-6. This is where the aircraft will receive another part of the code. The
first block that has to be checked for amateur-built or light-sport aircraft is
B, special airworthiness certificate. If you then checkbox 4, 'experimental,'
and sub-box 8, 'operating light sport,' and sub-box 8A, 'existing aircraft
without an air-worthiness certificate and does not meet 14 CFR section 103.1;'
this aircraft would get an airworthiness code of 48A. This airworthiness code
can only exist in manufacturer's code 059, experimental light sport, so this
means FAA Form 8050-88A's second option is checked. What if I checked box 9,
'light-sport,' and then checked 'airplane?' It would have an airworthiness code
of 9A. This would mean that I need the first option of FAA Form 8050-88A checked
to receive manufacturer's code 060. The experimental amateur-built would have
block 4 and sub-block 2 checked for an air-worthiness code of 42 and this could
only exist on an FAA Form 8050-88 and a manufacturer's code of 056.
What does all
this mean to the inspector or DAR performing a certification of an aircraft? It
means that each needs to look at the registration documentation to determine
what blocks can be checked on the 8130-6. We need to set some rules. Use Form
8050-88 and the options would be limited to block 4, experimental, sub-block 2,
amateur-built. Use Form 8050-88A with the second option checked and the blocks
would be limited to 4, experimental, and sub-block 8, operating light-sport,
then you have two choices either 8a, 'existing fleet,' or 8b, 'kit built.' Since
the kit standards have not been completed at this time, option 8b is not
available. Let us look at a Form 8050-88A with the first option checked. This is
the most complex. However, a manufacturer of a light-sport aircraft can only
accomplish this. The manufacturer would check block 9, light sport, then check
the class of aircraft. However, in the case of a manufacturer operating a
light-sport aircraft for research and development or some of the other
variations in the sub-block under experimental, the aircraft would be registered
using the 8050-88A with the first option checked. It would have a manufacturer's
code of 060, but an airworthiness code of 41, research and development, 43,
exhibition, or 46, market survey but never 42 amateur-built.
With all this
in mind the inspector or DAR should start the certification work by researching
which affidavit was used. This will tell the inspector or DAR if the
certification requested can be accomplished. If the applicant says at the last
minute, 'I want this air-craft to be an ELSA instead of an amateur-built,' and
the applicant had submitted an 8050-88, the inspector or DAR can have the
applicant contact the Registry for instructions to set aside the initial
affidavit and submit an 8050-88A to amend the registration record. The applicant
should have submitted FAA Form 8050-88A with second option checked. This way the
code will be correct, and the FAA can better serve the public and promote
information on aircraft registration, see the FAA Aircraft Registry Web site at
is Aviation Safety Inspector Airworthiness in Flight Standards' Light Sport
Aviation Branch, AFS-610.