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IFR Certified Homebuild Aircraft

I saw this add recently.

Link

It’s for an MCR4S which is a home build aircraft.

It claims it’s IFR certified.

When clicking on the “full details” it says

IFR rating is only available with LX (luxemburg) registration.

So how does that work? If IFR is only available while over Luxemburg then it’s not much use. Is it a case of requesting IFR permission in other countries, and if so what European countries allow IFR in home built aircraft?

I know that the UK is looking at such an idea, but wasn’t aware that anyone else allowed it in Europe apart from Sweeden.

Last Edited by dublinpilot at 09 Jun 09:26
EIWT Weston

I can’t imagine the IFR privileges would be limited to the LX airspace, given that the Grand Duchy does not have its own FIR – it shares Brussels FIR with Belgium.
Besides, the text says “LX registration” not “LX airspace”.

But I CAN imagine that, as it is not a CofA plane, overflight permission should (theoretically) be sought from each individual country, and that some countries may well restrict the permission to VFR flying only.

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

But I CAN imagine that, as it is not a CofA plane, overflight permission should (theoretically) be sought from each individual country, and that some countries may well restrict the permission to VFR flying only.

The good old Chicago convention of the ICAO at work: Every aircraft must observe the rules of it’s country of registration as well as those of the countries overflown.

EDDS - Stuttgart

From circumstantial evidence there is almost certainly no way to get IFR approval for a non ICAO CofA aircraft which is usable across Europe – with or without permissions.

I say this because the UK – South Africa record breaking flights, done in non CofA types in the last few years, involved granting of an IFR approval by the CAA of the country of registration (the UK CAA in the last case I know of) but with a “tacit understanding” that IFR will not be “filed” in Europe. The IFR approval was needed because once you get out of Europe, into Africa, VFR is not really understood. So even these special projects could not get an IFR approval usable across Europe.

If there was a way to get a “homebuilt” to fly IFR all over Europe, people would pile in in huge numbers. Something like an RV, an all-metal aircraft which should not have any bonding issues, if fitted with suitable avionics, would be totally capable of flying high altitude IFR and be legal doing it.

It seems to go on in small ways. For example the Eurocontrol database which lists the numbers of flights done by aircraft type (posted here a while ago but I can’t find it now) listed several types which cannot fly IFR In any case, it’s obviously possible to do it by an imaginative use of the aircraft type designator

That MCR4S looks nice! It is pretty well equipped. It even has an autopilot which is pretty well a must for IFR, for pilot workload reasons.

However, at €95k it’s not cheap

Last Edited by Peter at 09 Jun 10:22
Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

There have been examples of IFR certified homebuilts.

The most infamous one was this one:

HB-YMN Express 2000 LR

This plane was built by Hans Georg Schmid, a former Swissair MD11 captain, to do a flight from Basel to Oskosh. Due to a series of fatal mistakes the flight ended after a very short time in downtown Basel with the death of the pilot and massive damage to property.

This plane, as the accident report clearly states on page 14 amongst others, was fully IFR certified by the Swiss FOCA.

Since this accident however, I have not heard of any such certificate being issued. Also, the FOCA has become much more aware of the risks involved and has increased it´s oversight massively.

In my own view, there is no real technical reason for EASA´s adamant refusal to letting homebuilts fly IFR if due diligence and proper oversight were to be executed. It is more a fact that EASA does not WANT small airplane IFR and at the same time does not really want homebuilts either as they operate largely outside their control (which of course is one of the purposes of homebuilt planes). So the combination of the two means that EASA is totally opposed to any such move.

LSZH, Switzerland

So how does that work? If IFR is only available while over Luxemburg then it’s not much use. Is it a case of requesting IFR permission in other countries, and if so what European countries allow IFR in home built aircraft?

It is the other way around actually. It is not about allowing IFR. IFR is allowed with the proper equipment and rating. The thing is that some countries has decided not to allow IFR in homebuilt for some odd reason or another. IFR is allowed in Sweden and Norway, Poland, Finland, Latvia, Italy and many more unless it explicitly stated that IFR is not allowed.

How an aircraft from one country is allowed to operate in another country is governed by the Ecac recommendation:

ECAC 1980 RECOMMENDATION (INT.S/11-1)
“The Conference recommends that Member States accept Home-Built Aircraft with a certificate of airworthiness or a “permit to fly” issued by another Member State, to fly in their country without any restrictions other than those stated in the certificate of airworthiness or “permit to fly”.

See Link

I must add, because it seems to create confusion. Microlights/Ultralights, aircraft with MTOW 450/475 kg are not allowed IFR anywhere as far as I know. They are also often homebuilt, but they are not classified as “Experimental”. At least in Norway/Sweden/Finland experimental aircraft are given a Special CofA by the local CAA (I guess Poland and lots of others as well). The CAA has nothing to do with Ultralight/microlight here, other than the MTOW limit (which they sporadically check from time to time) and proper radio/transponder for flying in controlled airspace.

The Ecac recommendation was clearly meant for aircraft in the experimental category, not microlight. Microlights were hardly even “invented” in 1980.

Last Edited by LeSving at 09 Jun 10:58

is governed by the Ecac recommendation:

The word “recommendation” says that nothing is governed by it! Different countries can follow this recommendation as they please – and this is what they do.

to fly in their country without any restrictions other than those stated in the certificate of airworthiness or “permit to fly”.

This again contains an important bit: “restrictions other than those stated … permit to fly”. All the permit to fly aircraft that I have come across here in Germany had “daylight VFR, no flight over populated areas, no carriage of passengers” writen in their permit which made them basically useless for anything but test flights and the kind of aerial work they were doing.

Last Edited by what_next at 09 Jun 10:41
EDDS - Stuttgart

was fully IFR certified by the Swiss FOCA.

However, it is not in the power of the FOCA to issue an IFR approval for an aircraft which does not have an ICAO compliant CofA. They can issue whatever certificate they like but no other country is obliged to accept it in its airspace.

An ICAO contracting state can file a difference to ICAO e.g. saying they allow homebuilts on their reg to fly IFR. The default position will then be that such aircraft can fly IFR elsewhere, but other contracting states are able to object to it. So if nobody bothers to object (which is usually what happens with the sort of relative trivia which forms most of the differences filed) you are OK to go.

That’s my understanding.

there is no real technical reason for EASA´s adamant refusal to letting homebuilts fly IFR if due diligence and proper oversight were to be executed

I agree, but much hangs on “due diligence”

For example, a straight “plastic plane” won’t work in IMC, due to the static problems caused by the shedding of water droplets. You do have to put in some conductive surfaces and bond them, all the way to the static wicks on the training edges. This is achievable fairly cheaply using e.g. spray-on conductive paint (can go on the inside surfaces) but it needs to be done properly. From what I have seen on this topic, this just isn’t appreciated by those who want IFR approvals for homebuilts and who are concentrating on stuff like handling qualities. A bit of static charge and the resulting corona discharge from various places will totally wipe out your VHF comms…

The resistance to IFR is from the same places as the resistance to IFR GA generally. This starts with the European IR being historically hard to get. The authorities are not keen on having too much GA traffic up there. As it happens, currently there is almost zero IFR GA traffic in Europe. But that’s not the point…

How an aircraft from one country is allowed to operate in another country is governed by the Ecac recommendation:

That 1980 document is mostly ignored. You can refer to it as much as you want but almost nobody cares about it.

The word “recommendation” says that nothing is governed by it! Different countries can follow this recommendation as they please – and this is what they do.

Exactly.

Last Edited by Peter at 09 Jun 11:08
Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

This again contains an important bit: “restrictions other than those stated … permit to fly”. All the permit to fly aircraft that I have come across here in Germany had “daylight VFR, no flight over populated areas, no carriage of passengers” writen in their permit which made them basically useless for anything but test flights and the kind of aerial work they were doing.

Exactly. In Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland etc etc (god knows where else) we do not have a “permit” on a permanent basis. We used to for 6 years, but that bureaucratic mishap is out of the way now through a long round in the legal system. Experimental aircraft receives a permit for test flying. Then when the test flying is finished and things are OK, min 25 hours, they receive a Special CofA. If no IFR equipment are installed and tested, the aircraft will have “VFR only” etc, if IFR equipment is installed, that too has to be tested. If you later decide to have IFR equipment installed, that equipment has to be tested before a new CofA is given. It is not as free as the US regarding modification, but very much doable for anyone.

This brings me back to my original impression of EASA and other national AAs. My impression was that EASA is NOT the main problem. The main problem is Germany and the UK. EASA has no intentions of meddling with anything related to experimental homebuilding or anything ANNEX II what so ever. It is all up to the local state CAA. And who is the big brakes here? The UK and Germany. With the UK this behavior is typical English I guess? Arrogance and protection of someones “right” to decide what other people shall or shall not do, combined with “must have some rules”-syndrome or whatever it is. With Germany I don’t understand it at all. What would the sport of gliding be without German gliders? Gliders have always operated within a regime that has been very pilot friendly in all aspects.

If I ever should take IFR rating (not likely, but would be fun on pure spite ), then I know I can fly in my homebuilt experimental freely to Sweden, Finland, Poland, Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Italy, Netherlands, even Luxembourgh, also France with a short notice. And I can even fly across the Atlantic ocean to the USA. At least one Norwegian did that. He built himself a Falco from Drawings by Stelio Frati. Flew to Oshkosh and received a price for best finish or best plans built or something.

Anyway, I am not sure you intepret the recommendation correctly. It is something that is implemented or not implemented in a country regardless of the rules for experimental homebuilding in that country. It says without any restrictions other than those stated in the certificate of airworthiness or “permit to fly”. That is the main point. The UK has not implemented the recommendation, Germany has sort of implemented it by the looks of it, meaning IFR in Germany with a Norwegian EA will certainly not end up being grounded or anything.

That’s really it. No UK IFR flying, so what. There are other places to go.

With Germany I don’t understand it at all.

In another thread I already wrote: Protection of the individual by the state is one of the pillars of the German (post war!) constitution. People inside aeroplanes and people staying on the ground have to be protected as good as humanly possible from the dangers of flying. Therefore the hurdles for approval of flying machines are set very high. This will not change unless the constitution is changed.

What would the sport of gliding be without German gliders?

Glider pilots have to wear parachutes for their own protection in Germany and as gliders themselves are lightweight and don’t contain flammable liquids, their danger potenial to members of the public is small. This is why regulation for gliders is a lot different from powered aircraft.

EDDS - Stuttgart
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