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France Homebuilt (looking for advice)

Hey guys (and gals),

I’ve been lurking for a while, and finally made an account.
First, let me say thanks a lot to all of you for surviving thriving in this GA environment, and for sharing so much of what you’ve learned.
I’m a bit of a youngster looking for a plane that can do some long distance, at a decent rate without breaking the bank (aren’t we all?!)

I think some of you may have seen this Cozy for sale in France recently. I went there and took a look at it with the guy who built it.
It is definitely homebuilt. The wings look great, the core fuselage looks good, but some things, like the canopy and the rest of the finish, are lacking. All that being said, it is a great design for an aircraft, in that it has 1000lb payload, 1000nm range and cooks at 150+ kts on 7.5gph with room for two tall people up front and two shorter people in back.

I’ve been flying for 4 years now, and have about 45 hours in an M20C. Going backwards from a Mooney isn’t really an option, which is what led me to where I am: looking at homebuilts that have a price/performance ratio greater than most certifieds.

OK, long post, here are the issues I’d like to get your advice on:

  1. Engine is 30 years old. Had 300 hours and the PA-28 it was in had an accident. The engine was inspected and cleared as in good condition 30 years ago. The builder bought it, did some work on it and put it in his aircraft.
    Having flown in it, it sounds decent, and I didn’t detect any stumbling, ticking, or other such oddities. However, I’m no mechanic, and while I’ve been looking for one to fly with me on such adventures, I haven’t found one yet… (please let me know if you’re interested!)
  1. I’m from the land of N-tails and live in Austria. The laws here specify that an ELT and Noise Certification are mandatory for flying. Installing an ELT shouldn’t be a problem, but the pilot is quite aged, and no longer desires to fly due to safety. I flew with him and it was a little knuckle whitening to say the least.
    He is unwilling to help with the Noise Cert. and as I’m not licensed in France, (I have an FAA PPL and an Austrian EASA PPL, both of which are current) I can’t exactly fly the plane to go have the Noise Certification done.
  1. VAT. Those letters make me cringe. There is no record of VAT being paid on the Aircraft, which doesn’t make sense anyway, as VAT was paid on all the parts that the aircraft was constructed of…
    In any case, I’m not sure how to go to the Austrian authorities and explain that VAT shouldn’t be charged because it was paid on every single part, and it isn’t a commercial product being sold.

So, at this point, I have all the documents with me, and have left the purchase amount with the owner. I have a bill of sale, which means I’m now the rightful owner, but I made the builder sign a contract that stipulates that if I can’t get it registered in Austria, I can return the docs for a full refund.

My request from you guys is to see if you have any insight for me at all. Without getting myself into a mud-hole, I’d like to get a high-performance aircraft (even if a little rough around the edges), but don’t want to get stuck in bureaucracy-ville.

Any wisdom, insight or tips you might have for me?

Thanks in advance.

Last Edited by AF at 30 May 16:10

AF welcome especially to this EuroGA neighbourhood. Am not sure why you can’t pick up this aircraft on a EASA PPL in France, is there a rule requiring a national licence to fly an F reg homebuilt?

A thirty year Lycoming would need careful inspection, especially if it has had low utilisation. Also it may have been shock loaded requiring a tear down inspection. Crankshaft pitting or corrosion in other components due to low utilisation would be a possibility. The accessories (magnetos, starter, alternator, vacuum pump), and hoses would also need checking especially if thirty years old. The -320 is pretty bullet proof so if a mechanic does a careful inspection it may provide perfectly good service, but effectively on condition.

Enstone (EGTN), Oxford (EGTK)

Very much welcome to this forum – and to Europe as a whole! I am afraid I have (as usual ) more questions for you than I have answers, but I will do my best.

  • regarding VAT: so you basically have paid for the plane, and there exists a written sales agreement? What does it say about VAT? If it does not carry certain required information, it might well be void. But you would have to check this with tax specialists in both countries. Mind you, it may make a difference whether seller and buyer are acting as registered businesses or as private persons. In my case, I bought as a EU-registered business from a private person in another EU country, no VAT was due, and I carry a document from the local customs office in confirmation. If this seems complicated: welcome to Europe!
  • a point that does not really come up now but inevitably will: on what register do you intend to fly the bird? Keeping the present F-Pxxx (as I presume) might have many advantages, but the seller would have to agree to it, and even then it might not be legal. Again, it would need to be legal both in France and in Austria. Get her on the N-register? Get an OE-xxx? There have been indications here that, for registering an experimental abroad, the PH-register (Netherlands) offers certain advantages.
  • Getting her on the N-register might even open the road to IFR – to the envy of some but it is not clear to me if that would be relevant for you
  • Regarding the engine, I have little to say. If you are uncertain, get then engine assessed by a knowledgeable person/company, there are a couple of them around here. Frankly, though, such an assessment had been in order before offering your pecuniae.
  • The document stating you can cancel the deal if you can’t get the plane on the OE-register may be of little worth: sooner or later you will always be able to register; if the cost is prohibitive, that is not the seller’s problem. If I were him, or of his estate, I would drive that point home ruthlessly.
  • The noise certificate should be the least concern – I read more than one report of people brewing their own. But be aware these pushers are noisy but then really noisy.
  • Regarding the ELT: we were recently (today?) informed that EASA will soon accept PLB’s instead of ELT’s, which might save you a bit of money and perhaps some hassle.
Last Edited by at 30 May 18:40
EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

Welcome to EuroGA, AF

There are loads of issues to consider here.

Is this Cozy N-reg? If so it’s prob99 illegally based in France, which has a limit (6 months?) on any non-F-reg homebuilt, unless certain conditions are met. See e.g. here and here and here

This may open up a can of worms because, if true, it will have been operated in a very low profile manner and flown rarely, maybe not for years. The engine is likely corroded. You won’t be able to tell by listening to it. Virtually nothing (short of a broken conrod, etc ) will be audible outside the engine. 300 hours in 30 years is way outside any plausibly normal usage. Buying it is still OK, subject to a proper prebuy, if you discount the price by an engine overhaul. In fact not doing a prebuy is OK too if you are happy to take a chance on throwing your money away.

Check the Austrian regs on how long you can keep an N-reg homebuilt there. In Germany you can do it for 365 days and then you can apply for another 365 days, and keep repeating that. As far as anyone here has found and posted, no other country in Europe is known to be as generous. The UK for example is 28 days.

Transferring a homebuilt to another registry is usually very hard, within Europe.

If it is F-reg and you want to go N-reg that may be different – @Silvaire may know the process. However very few people transfer Euro-reg homebuilts to N-reg because of the strict residence limits. I am aware of several N-reg homebuilts in Europe but AFAIK none of them were transferred; they were imported from the USA. And only two of them fly in anything like a high profile manner.

The VAT issue may not be a problem if Austria has had a VAT amnesty or has some other statute of limitations. The UK had such an amnesty for example. Also, where was the Cozy made? If it was made in the EU, and you have records proving it was never formally exported (e.g. not been sold to Switzerland, Jersey, etc) then there may not be an issue. This is the situation for e.g. my TB20 (though allegedly French VAT police aren’t smart enough to realise it, which is why I went to a lot of trouble to obtain a certificate of free circulation for VAT).

For an N-reg you can generate your own noise certificate. See e.g. here

Installing an ELT is not a problem.

An N-reg homebuilt would normally not have a VFR-only restriction on it’s certificate, so it can fly IFR in any airspace where IFR in noncertified aircraft is permitted. Exactly which bits of Europe allow it (or have no law on the subject) has been debated here before IMHO it is a useless concept in Europe (except Germany), unless you fly just one particular route via certain countries (as indeed one of the ones I know about does all the time) or you are based somewhere where nobody cares about anything and if they do you just pay them off (as indeed another one I know about does – former USSR).

You can inspect an engine internally but you need to remove at least one cylinder.

Loads of buyers try to insert a condition that such and such may be possible in the future (e.g. a transfer from N-reg to D-reg) but the seller is not liable for that unless he has signed a contract saying that. He would be a fool to sign such a thing.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Regarding VAT I’ve no knowledge of the French or Austrian VAT systems, but some general European principals apply.

If the seller is a private individual, and selling the aircraft as a private individual, then there is no VAT due on the sale. You must be operating as a business to charge VAT.

It would seem, on face value, that the builder paid VAT on the part, wasn’t able to claim that back, and build the aircraft, not as a business, but as a consumer. So the VAT on the parts is the end of the story as far as VAT liability goes.

Your difficulty is proving that if anyone asks. If they bought it as part of a kit, it would be helpful to have a copy of the kit invoices (to show VAT being suffered). Any inspector probably won’t appreciate the difference between a kit and an aircraft anyway! You will probably also require some sort of sale agreement, even if that’s just a letter between you, to show that you purchased it from XXX, at address YYY, for €ZZZ and both of you are private individual, not operating a business, and not registered for VAT.

But as is often the case, it’s not the law that is the problem, but convincing an individual tax officer who won’t let you leave until they are satisfied!

EIWT Weston

RobertL18C wrote:

AF welcome especially to this EuroGA neighbourhood. Am not sure why you can’t pick up this aircraft on a EASA PPL in France, is there a rule requiring a national licence to fly an F reg homebuilt?

Thanks for the question. I was under the illusion that licensing only applied to each nation, and not for all countries under EASA. If that’s not the case, then I’m actually in pretty good shape. Thanks for the enlightenment.

Jan_Olieslagers wrote:

regarding VAT: so you basically have paid for the plane, and there exists a written sales agreement? What does it say about VAT?

Unfortunately, nothing. It only lists the sales price and the details of the aircraft, buyer, seller, etc.
This is probably my biggest worry… I asked the seller for help with VAT, but he’s totally uninterested. He said there is no VAT due because it is a homebuilt. I understand that, but I also know that we’re dealing with two sovereign nations, and that can be a bit of a pickle.
So there’s that. I’m just not sure… Thus the question. Without the seller’s help (or help in general) this is a tough nut for me to crack.
Thanks for the insight.

Jan_Olieslagers wrote:

Get her on the N-register? Get an OE-xxx?

I was thinking I’d have to put it on OE, but your question leads me to realize that I could put it on an N register. That would make flying to other continents a lot easier as well (I think). I’ve not got an IFR rating, but part of the reason was because of the rental cost of an IFR machine here… If I can put this one on the N-reg, that would simplify things tremendously!
Unfortunately though, IFR isn’t allowed in Austria for homebuilt aircraft. Only VFR. So I’d have to fly out on VFR and then switch…

Jan_Olieslagers wrote:

get then engine assessed by a knowledgeable person/company

Thanks, and gladly! Anyone interested in checking this bird out? I’m glad to pay for all costs (of course).

Jan_Olieslagers wrote:

if the cost is prohibitive, that is not the seller’s problem.

Fully understood. I didn’t want to end up with an aircraft just sitting in no-man’s land, and wasn’t sure how else to proceed. Indeed, I’m not totally confident of any agreement written ad-hoc like that, but it was more to help keep the memory fresh than anything, because the seller offered it. I don’t expect anything to get legal, I just want to make sure I’m not putting myself into a corner, because I’m wayyy too ignorant, and should have been asking these questions long ago.
Thanks for your help.

Jan_Olieslagers wrote:

sooner or later you will always be able to register

If that is so, I’m definitely on-board. The red tape took the steam out of my engine. Thanks for putting wind back in the sails on this point.

Jan_Olieslagers wrote:

The noise certificate should be the least concern

Even though it is required to operate in OE airspace? (even for overflying)
Interesting…
I read this and OE AIP (see point3) which both mentioning the Lärmzulässigkeitszeugnis, or (noise certificate).

Jan_Olieslagers wrote:

Regarding the ELT: we were recently (today?) informed that EASA will soon accept PLB’s instead of ELT’s

Awesome! I was planning to get one anyway, for trips beyond the known shores…

Thanks a lot for your input. This is really helpful and encourages me to slog forward.

Hi Peter,
Really nice to meet you (even if online). I’ve read a lot of what you’ve written, and it has helped me tremendously already.
Thanks for the welcome, I appreciate it.

Peter wrote:

Is this Cozy N-reg?

It is an F-Pxxx reg, so no problems there.

Peter wrote:

See e.g. here and here and here

Read. Read. and just read. Thank you. (have been reading a lot of what you all have written until 3-4am the past few nights…)

Peter wrote:

Virtually nothing (short of a broken conrod, etc ) will be audible outside the engine. 300 hours in 30 years is way outside any plausibly normal usage.

Indeed, this is, next to registration is my biggest cringe. I’m absolutely rolling the dice without having an inspection. I didn’t realize the engine was 30 years old until I sat down and looked at the logbooks. I’d asked if the engine was overhauled or new, and the response was an emphatic “new!” and I kind of hmph’d about it but didn’t check the logbook until I was on the journey home, and then saw the time gap. The log’s in French, which really helps too :0 (I know absolutely zero French).

Peter wrote:

Transferring a homebuilt to another registry is usually very hard, within Europe.

I was afraid of that. Suspicion confirmed. Thanks. Peter wrote:

If it is F-reg and you want to go N-reg that may be different – @Silvaire may know the process

OK thanks for the tip. Having a US citizenship should make N-reg easier, but the builder kept no visible record of the process. So that’s probably out. I asked for it, because I was thinking along these lines (my only reference is the FAA) and was concerned when there wasn’t a construction journal.

Peter wrote:

The VAT issue may not be a problem if Austria has had a VAT amnesty

Hmm. Will check into that. The plane was only registered in 2013, which puts an amnesty at bay. However, it was built in France, so it should be VAT free. Having lived here for a few years, I’ve come to understand that one does not simply walk into ‘Mordor’. (forgive the pun), one must have stacks of documentation and seals and stamps and such to sufficiently baffle any registrar or official into acceptance. Having everyone’s feedback will really help me hold my own when having the discussion (having printed out the corresponding regs and such as well).

Peter wrote:

He would be a fool to sign such a thing.

Signed. But I won’t qoute what you said…
dublinpilot wrote:

You will probably also require some sort of sale agreement, even if that’s just a letter between you, to show that you purchased it from XXX, at address YYY, for €ZZZ and both of you are private individual, not operating a business, and not registered for VAT.

Done. Exactly as stated.

dublinpilot wrote:

But as is often the case, it’s not the law that is the problem, but convincing an individual tax officer who won’t let you leave until they are satisfied!

Exactly! Seals, stamps and official looking documents help on this point, but having all relevant information and speaking with certainty on the subject also helps (at least that has been my experience here…)

dublinpilot wrote:

If the seller is a private individual, and selling the aircraft as a private individual, then there is no VAT due on the sale.

Brilliant. Thank you! Yes, it is a private to private sale.

Thanks so much fellas. This is incredibly helpful!

Last Edited by AF at 30 May 19:22

However, it was built in France, so it should be VAT free. Having lived here for a few years, I’ve come to understand that one does not simply walk into ‘Mordor’. (forgive the pun), one must have stacks of documentation and seals and stamps and such to sufficiently baffle any registrar or official into acceptance.

…but the builder kept no visible record of the process

As to bringing your plane onto OE registration – that will be a huge uphill battle as I learnt first hand.
Your noise certificate is just one hurdle… (they can be arranged)

I was interested in a Swiss built kit-plane and had two interesting discussions with the (there is but one) responsible guy at Austrocontrol.
He was helpful, but made it clear that he only saw a registration possible only (!) because it was built from an Austrian kit and certified in Switzerland – they know and trust the process there – and thus acceptably documented. Still needed a tedious plane and document certification to the tune of approx. €4-5k

The previous owner had found a similar situation when registering in Belgium.
So if it is registered in France, then I would try to maintain a French registration (no idea if possible)
In the process, I could rule out GB and DE, but got some hope for the Netherlands, where they have a huge experimental scene..

Strength & Luck ;-)

Last Edited by ch.ess at 30 May 20:25
...
EDM_, Germany

You definitely may fly the plane with any EASA licence.
If you have any EU citizenship, you may leave it F reg, and register it under your name. If not you may request a special permission to register it under your name
I don’t know whether you may fly in Austria a French homebuilt. Usually nobody cares, but make sure your insurance is still valid.
Registering a homebuilt and obtaining an airworthiness certificate out of her home country is a tall order, it might prove impossible.
VAT is certainly not due anywhere in Europe. If you register your plane in France, the French authorities won’t ask any question, but who knows what paperwork you might be required to produce should you register her anywhere else?

Last Edited by Piotr_Szut at 30 May 20:41

Must have been a hell of a deal AF… There are quite a few reasonably cheap short-body Mooneys on the market in Europe…

EGPD / OMDW / YPJT, United Kingdom
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