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Homebuilt / ultralight / permit (non ICAO CofA) and IFR - how?

This keeps cropping up and claims are reappearing that it is just around the corner.

The above terminology is loose, because e.g. “Permit” is a UK term, and the weight categories vary around the place anyway. But all these are aircraft which do not have an ICAO CofA.

What I am trying to understand is how would this work. There is no framework for IFR certification unless you have an ICAO CofA. The only option is to file a difference to ICAO – which is what the USA has done with its Experimental regime (whether the USA has actually filed the difference I have no idea ). But EASA has not indicated that they want to do that.

And if you did do that, how can you then continue to enforce TSOd equipment, plus the whole ludicrous Major mod regime etc etc, for aircraft that do have an ICAO CofA, and keep a straight face? For example it would be legal to fly IFR with a Dynon GPS, but the same GPS cannot even be screwed into a TB20.

I can see that technically it could be done, for all-metal types which ought to meet the static/lightning protection implicitly, perhaps with some (very cheap) bonding added. That would rule out all the “all-plastic” types. Then you need to throw in some bits of Part 23 e.g. proper control surface behaviour. Then install some suitable navigation gear.

But what will you get in terms of mission capability? Euro-land is heading for ever tighter requirements on avionics for IFR, with RNAV1/PRNAV which can’t be met unless one blows five figures on avionics, which very few people want to do if they are flying a non-ICAO type (there will be rare exceptions e.g. a Mustang with a G500 which is parked not a million miles from where I am). So you won’t be able to file Eurocontrol IFR flight plans. That leaves IFR in Class G only which, ahem, ahem, cough, cough, anybody can do anyway, already, right now. Even in Germany, if nobody is looking The only thing which is dodgy is turning up, in a homebuilt, at say Biggin EGKB (Class G) in OVC003 and asking for the ILS. VFR in IMC being a common UK practice in everything from kites to >2T twins, one can be PROB99 sure nobody will raise an eyebrow, but it is “obviously illegal” unless you legalise it by declaring a mayday.

What am I missing? Can anybody see a way it might hang together?

Does a Euro-land national CAA still have the option of doing its own thing and implementing a sub-ICAO regime, in its own airspace? It would not be very useful because you could not fly (IFR) out of the country.

I think a lot of people are doing a lot of wishful thinking.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

That leaves IFR in Class G only which, ahem, ahem, cough, cough, anybody can do anyway, already, right now.

UK LAA Permit to Fly aircraft are restricted to DAY VFR at present. (The required notice on the instrument panel also says “No Smoking”, but doesn’t yet mention “have eaten 5 pieces of fruit/ veg in previous 24 hours.”)
I’ve logged some night landings in a Jodel DR1050, when they were CAA C of A aircraft – pre EASA. I’m hoping to be able to do night flying again in it. I might re-validate my IMC rating for getting back in weather like today – beautifull on the west, fog lifting, but still threatening on the east coast.

Last Edited by David at 22 Apr 21:24
Maoraigh
EGPE, United Kingdom

“Permit” is a UK term,

No there are EASA Permits!

aircraft which do not have an ICAO CofA

ICAO make recomendations, they do not issue Cs of A! Cof A is issued Nationally or by EASA

The only option is to file a difference to ICAO – But EASA has not indicated that they want to do that.

To file a difference you would have to be an ICAO signatory, EASA is not!

That leaves IFR in Class G only which, ahem, ahem, cough, cough, anybody can do anyway, already, right now.

Only if they have a UK National licence (pre1999)and then only in a Annex II aeroplane. An EASA licence and a JAA licence gave no IFR privileges without an Instrument qualification except that the JAA licence allowed IFR at night when required Nationally.

EASA does not understand GA and has no interest in it, especially GA operating IFR.

Getting an IR is the easy bit, unless you own an aircraft, being able to afford to use it, is way outside the average GA pilots budget.

.

Strictly true, sure

A top EASA official (name you can guess) told me, face to face, that EASA can force each EU country file a difference to ICAO. He said they were going to do that on the LAPL, because it has a GP medical which is therefore sub-ICAO. No idea if they actually did that.

Reportedly, EASA tried to get an ICAO seat but ICAO told them that they can’t have it unless all EU countries resign their seats, which they obviously refused.

Getting an IR is the easy bit, unless you own an aircraft, being able to afford to use it, is way outside the average GA pilots budget.

Yes – very true, and we will never see the Eurocontrol skies full of C152s, PA28s, etc, as some people unfamilar with GA feared. But the CB IR should increase the number of pilots who have an IR, and who might presently fly dodgy VFR around Europe, and are forced down below CAS because they are VFR, not because there is conflicting traffic higher up.

Can anyone suggest a way to drive the IFR certification process for non ICAO CofA aircraft?

Last Edited by Peter at 22 Apr 10:47
Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Homebuilt/ultralight are a vast group of very different things. Not only is homebuilt != ultralight, but also homebuilt != homebuilt and ultralight != ultralight because they are all Annex II aircraft. Certification and operation is handled according to national rules and regulations which varies wildly from country to country. France, Italy and the Czech Republic typically has a very relaxed regime, while Germany and UK has a draconian regime. Others are somewhere in between. Neither ultralights or homebuilt has any relevance to EASA regulations. However, neither CS-LSA or CS-VLA (EASA Certifications) are allowed to fly IFR, so ultralight and IFR will never happen.

The CAA of Norway released an AIC about homebuilt aircraft some weeks ago. What it say is that equipment for VFR night can be installed and tested by the builder. Equipment for IFR must be installed and tested by a certified aircraft maintenance shop when this equipment is to be installed as a modification. When it is installed as part of the building process, it is unclear what exactly they mean, but it has to be tested and maintained by a certified shop.

The reason for this change has to do with one particular thing. From 2008 homebuilt were issued a Permit to Fly instead of a Certificate of Airworthiness , with the limitations following the “Permit to Fly” (no IFR etc). After much legal disputes it became clear that according to the law the CAA have to issue a Special Certificate of Airworthiness (SCofA), not a Permit to Fly. The details about all this is rather intricate and lengthy (just read it myself). The result is that a “Permit to fly” is issued until the test flight period is over, then a (S)CofA is issued.

I think that much of this trouble is due to the interpretation and meaning of CofA. Somehow this has changed from the original meaning; “material” airworthiness of the aircraft, to exclusively mean airworthiness of certified aircraft, to the point where airworthiness has been a synonym for certification. Even longer, to the point of meaning: nothing can be airworthy unless it also is certified. This was never the intention when the laws were written. They were clearly written to allow for Special CofA when ordinary certification was not possible, needed or for whatever other reason. Further, the “Permit to Fly” was put there to allow for (test)flying, overflight etc when no CofA existed, not as a permanent “non-certificate”.

A homebuilt aircraft is therefore an Annex II aircraft with a (Special) Certificate of Airworthiness. If it’s IFR approved, then it’s IFR approved. End of story.

To file a difference you would have to be an ICAO signatory, EASA is not!

Out of interest, how many differences are there between ICAO and what EASA has mandated… If each NAA has to file a difference doesn’t that lead to excessive workloads and delays in getting things through?

To be honest I am surprised that we don’t have a sub-ICAO IFR category like the US. Given the attitude sometimes that is displayed that if they can do it, then we can do it…

I am interested in this subject in two ways:

One is how could IFR in non-CofA aircraft be implemented. Evidently it can be done, in some classes of Norwegian and possibly Swedish registered aircraft. Whether they are able to fly IFR (or fly at all, without a permit for each flight or for a period of time) outside of their own countries is another matter.

The other is whether it can be done in the Lancair Evolution. If that was possible, it would revolutionise things. This aircraft is claimed to have been designed to Part 23 but it is extremely unlikely that anybody will spend the money getting it certified.

Last Edited by Peter at 23 Apr 06:25
Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

As I understand it the LAA have and continue to invest a lot of time and effort into getting IFR for permit a/c. Why would they do that if there was no mechanism for its subsequent use?

Forever learning
EGTB

I agree, but what keeps happening in this business is that GA rep X meets with Y (where Y is a new broom at the CAA) and Y spins a good yarn. And a year later it’s business as usual, with no changes.

The list of topics on which progress was “near” (and posted all over the forums) is as long as your arm. In most cases it is longer than how long any Y lasted in the job, so you have to start again.

That’s why I am trying to understand how changes could be brought in. There are obvious technical issues which “must” disquality a lot of LAA types from flight in IMC, for example. If these technical issues cannot be solved, then politics alone (which must play a huge part in the subject here) won’t achieve much.

Last Edited by Peter at 23 Apr 07:22
Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

There are obvious technical issues which “must” disquality a lot of LAA types from flight in IMC, for example.

All experimentals are supervised to some degree during the build process and initial flight testing. A competent person signs off on the airplane and that person is able to say whether the experimental is suitable for aerobatics or IFR.

All it would require is a change in the AIP to allow experimentals to be operated under IFR. Most European countries allow entry of ECAC experimentals but limit it to VFR day operations. Non ECAC experimentals usually need a specific overfly/entry permission for each flight but that does not appear to be actively enforced throughout Europe.

The liberal system in the US has lead to Vans becoming the largest manufacturer of GA aircraft. A similar effect could be achieved here. I’d be the first to switch to an experimental if it allowed me to fly IFR

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