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What happens if the factory supporting a homebuilt / amateur built goes out of business

As the title says, I’ve often wondered what happens if someone buys a kit, starts building a plane and then the company goes tits up. Ok, so you’re royally screwed if you’ve just bought part of the kit and started work, but what happens with a plane which has been built as an amateur build by the factory, sold to you, where the plane needs to be inspected by the factory once a year as part of the permit extension? Does that plane suddenly become grounded once the factory goes belly up?

I’m also talking about something like a pre type certified Elixir, or something that’s never been certified, such as an MCR or an Alpi Pioneer 400. What happens when the manufacturer no longer exists – I’m not saying they will go bust, but what would happen then? Can the aircraft continue flying or is that it, it’s consigned to the scrap heap.

Last Edited by Steve6443 at 27 May 07:19
EDL*, Germany

Great question.

In the certified world, thread here . In the US, you carry on, but in EASA-land you are stuffed until somebody has taken over the “support of the TC”.

In this case, there is no ICAO TC.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

That’s exactly my point. There is NO TC but in the case of, say, an Alpi or an MCR, the aircraft receives a Permit from the national CAA based on an airworthiness inspection. But if the factory is no longer there, what happens to that aircraft? Your average airframe mechanic might be able to inspect it but would the national CAA accept that as evidence sufficient to grant a Permit to Fly?

EDL*, Germany

Steve6443 wrote:

you’re royally screwed if you’ve just bought part of the kit and started work

Why? If you have all the parts, just keep building, finish said project and go fly. If you don’t have all the parts, manufacture them yourself, this why this is called home_built_ after all, finish the project and go fly.

Steve6443 wrote:

a plane which has been built as an amateur build by the factory

Most countries state that the majority of a build, i.e. >50% of the required work, is to be done by said amateur for the aircraft to qualify as amateur-built. De facto, the amateur build by the factory shouldn’t exist.

Steve6443 wrote:

MCR or an Alpi Pioneer 400. What happens when the manufacturer no longer exists

Nothing happens really… continue to fly and enjoy your homebuilt, maintenance, repairs or modifications being regulated by each country’s NAA.

Dan
ain't the Destination, but the Journey
LSZF, Switzerland

Very few kit manufacturers that have existed still exist, and I see lots of them still flying. In DE is there a requirement to get an inspection done by “the factory?” Never heard of this. In CH, the builder does the inspection. If the aircraft is no longer owned by the builder, then an A&P does it.

Fly more.
LSGY, Switzerland

eurogaguest1980 wrote:

Very few kit manufacturers that have existed still exist, and I see lots of them still flying. In DE is there a requirement to get an inspection done by “the factory?” Never heard of this. In CH, the builder does the inspection. If the aircraft is no longer owned by the builder, then an A&P does it.

A friend was looking at buying a factory built non TC aircraft to be flown as amateur built and was told it had to be taken back to the manufacturer once every year for an inspection by the factory in order to get the permit extended. Because the manufacturer was in Slovakia or Slovenia (I always get those two confused) and the lack of language abilities, he probably decided that going via the factory was maybe the best way to get things done to extend it’s permit but sure, an A&P could sign it off, however then you would probably need to get someone to handle the bureaucracy with the foreign CAA…..

edited to clarify: The aircraft would remain on the Slovak / Slovenian register – getting an amateur built / home built aircraft onto the German register AFTER building is pretty much impossible.

Last Edited by Steve6443 at 27 May 07:56
EDL*, Germany

Steve6443 wrote:

factory built non TC aircraft to be flown as amateur built

Not sure how that works… AFAIK amateur built equals homebuilt and not factory built, at least in all central EU countries.

Steve6443 wrote:

getting an amateur built / home built aircraft onto the German register AFTER building is pretty much impossible

Depends on its source. I know of a few Swiss homebuilts that have been successfully imported into Germany and D registered. One of the goal of our association EAS is being able to import/export homebuilt starting with German speaking countries Austria/Switzerland/Germany, as the build standards are being harmonised. Not sure how advanced the talks are though…

Dan
ain't the Destination, but the Journey
LSZF, Switzerland

In the UK, if the CAA accepts the aircraft for an LAA permit, then an LAA Inspector does the inspection and completes part of a form, someone flies an airtest to LAA specification, and completes the rest of the form, an on receiving it the LAA decide on Permit renewal. I’ve been picked up on using the wrong VNE value – 2kts too low. Almost all my flying since 2006 has been in factory built Permit aircraft.

Maoraigh
EGPE, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

In the US, you carry on, but in EASA-land you are stuffed until somebody has taken over the “support of the TC”.

Not exactly. Lots of aircraft flying are “orphan”. Fully ICAO, but Annex I and therefore “national” (not EASA). No problems there except the usual technical issues, finding/making parts for them.

Steve6443 wrote:

I’ve often wondered what happens if someone buys a kit, starts building a plane and then the company goes tits up

The whole point of homebuilt aircraft is they are not factory built, but homebuilt (51% rule). They are one off’s, and therefore all the usual certified stuff is irrelevant. Certification as such only makes any sense if several copies are built after certified standards and procedures for the specific type. The factory (of a kit) going bust makes it harder for the builder/owner, but from a legal/technical point of view, nothing is changed.

ENVA ENOP ENMO, Norway

I think parts availability is a major consideration when buying any aircraft. I’m not familiar with factories requesting annual inspections of homebuilt aircraft but perhaps that happens elsewhere. However, for ‘homebuilt’ aircraft designs I always find myself wondering whether they would be repairable after an accident. I don’t think EASA has jurisdiction here, but it’s still a good question.

Any ‘plans’ aircraft could be built from scratch, even if it was bought as a kit. Some fittings might be hard to find these days, but if you can get equivalents then you ought to get it flying again after a minor mishap. These days, many kit-built designs have composite spars or mouldings that could not realistically be repaired without factory support. Might an aircraft be written off after damage to a single component? The same consideration is true for engines. You will always be able to fix a VW and usually a Lycoming. But how long will parts be available for the eGo Wankel engine, as an example?

Last Edited by kwlf at 29 May 09:22
11 Posts
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