Certification and Inspection
This page was copied/pasted/modified from Ken Saumure's website (with his permission). A note of thanks goes out to Ken for his help.
The information listed below pertains mostly to US certification of experimental amateur-built aircraft. Other countries follow different certification standards and rules so some of this may not be of interest to you. However, for US builders, the information below satisfies the FAA's needs and wants when it comes to getting the helicopter legally airworthy.
It is here that I'll try to keep updated data as accurate as possible. If you run into a dead link or outdated information, please contact me right away. If I make a mistake or if you have additional information that might prove helpful to someone, again, please let me know.
Checklist of Items REQUIRED For FAA/DAR Sign-Off
The checklist below contains the necessary items you will need to either acquire, produce or compete as well as documents you will need to fill out and details associated with each. Nothing in the list of items below is optional.
The minute you take delivery of a kit, you can have it registered with the FAA (this should be done as soon as possible). FAA registration means you get the certificate of registration right away (within a few weeks following typical FAA processing) with your FAA assigned N number. For an extra cost, you can even pay the extra $10 and pick out your own N number.. You can get the FAA issued N number right away and reserve your personalized number for later, too. Just remember that when it comes to the final inspection, the N number on the registration MUST be the same on the aircraft. Don't forget to use BLACK ink when filling out the form. This document does not need to be notarized. The FAA or DAR will normally require a photo copy for their records during/after the final inspection as the original will stay with the aircraft at all times.
The aircraft must already be registered and the original registration certificate must be present before the DAR signs off on your Certificate of Airworthiness. (Consult the FAR's for the proper size and placement of the N number. Typically, 3 inch letters in a san-serif font should be sufficient).
(Editor's Note: Once your aircraft is on the FAA regsitry, most State Governments will come hunting for some sort of "Sales Tax". For example, in Illinois the State figures that if you can afford a luxury item such as a large boat, an airplane or helicopter, you can certainly pay the State-demanded sales tax on it. Don't be alarmed if you get yet another form in the mail to fill out regarding the worth of your helicopter for this purposes. Check your State regulations before you get a nasty surprise - most of these type of tax assesments are payment due in full).
Eligibility Statement - Experimental Aircraft (FAA form 8130-12)
This form is a document that basically says that you, the builder of the aircraft, fabricated and assembled the aircraft (either from parts, plans or a kit) for the purpose of education and/or recreation and that you have records (such as logbooks, photos, etc.) to prove such to the FAA. This document needs to be filled out in BLACK ink and must be NOTARIZED. Photocopy this document and keep a copy for your records.
Application for Airworthiness Certificate (FAA form 8130-6)
This form must be filled out prior to the inspectors arrival and is a precursor to the actual Certificate of Airworthiness that the FAA or DAR will be issuing you provided you pass your final inspection. Again, BLACK ink is required. This document does not need to be notarized.
Fill in all pertaining items on the application. You will be applying for a Special Airworthiness Certificate (part B), Experimental (4), Amateur-built (2). Sign it and date it where required. The FAA/DAR may fill in some sections. Most likely, you will not be getting a copy of this document back for your records.
Affidavit of Ownership (FAA form 8050-88)
This document is legal proof that you built the helicopter. In the eyes of the FAA, you are considered the manufacturer (just like Piper, Cessna or Boeing). This document must be filled out in BLACK ink and must be NOTARIZED.
Builder's Construction Logbook
This is a REQUIRED document. If you don't have documented and/or photographic proof that you built this aircraft, you may run into trouble. It doesn't mean that you need 3000 photos with detailed text. You should, however, maintain a running log (such as a spreadsheet) of construction sections/items with date started and completed along with some photos of each of those sections. Make sure that you are the subject in as many photos as possible, looking like you are doing the work. Some people document their work on a website. This is acceptable proof to the FAA.
Weight & Balance Data Sheet (Click HERE to download a modified version of Ken Saumure's electronic W&B calculator)
This is a REQUIRED document. You will need a thorough weight & balance completed and I would suggest doing several examples of various weight and loading configurations. These can be done manually or they can be done with the Excel calculator. Most DARs consider the W&B to be one of the most critical items to inspect so be prepared here.
Ken Saumure has created a very useful Excel Spreadsheet that automatically calculates various W&B conditions for this type of helicopter but it can only be used after the aircraft has been properly weighed as per the RotorWay Flight Manual. To download the spreadsheet, click the link above. I have added a few improvements and modified it for my helicopter. You MUST weigh your helicopter and fill in the 4 weight stations as per the RotorWay Flight Manual and enter those values in the station locations as marked. Once you download it, it's yours to do whatever you want with it. On the other hand, if you do notice a mistake, please let me know ASAP. Instructions and passwords are included in the MSWord readme file.
3D drawings or Photos of the Aircraft
These are also REQUIRED items. You will need to provide a copy of the 3 dimensional drawings supplied by RotorWay or simply provide 3 photos, 1 each of the side, front and quarter view of the aircraft. The FAA or DAR will be taking these with him/her for permanent FAA records so don't expect them back.
Placards, Labels and ELT
There are three primary placards that are mandatory. (See FAR Part 45)
1. Fireproof tag. This metal identifaction plate will be engraved with specific aircraft and builder details. They are available from most aircraft shops (such as Aircraft Spruce & Specialty) for just a few dollars. It must be securely fastened to the exterior of the ship in a plainly visible location.
2. Passenger Warning Label. If there is more than one seat (RotorWay's fall into this category) then the passenger warning label must be affixed. Again, this label can be sourced at many aircraft supply shops. This label will indicate "Passenger Warning - This aircraft is amateur-built and does not comply with Federal Safety Regulations for Standard Aircraft".
3. EXPERIMENTAL placard. This placard must be placed near the entrance to the cabin or cockpit in clear visibility. The letters must be 2 inches tall and the width proportional to the height.
The aircraft, if fitted with more than one seat, also requires an ELT. There are a multitude of regulations that determine when, where, if, why and how ELTs are required. For sake of safety, you should install an ELT regardless of what regulation states that you don't need one. If you go down, it may just save your life. Make sure that you get one that is for helicopter use or at least understand that the mounting requirement for helicopters differs from airplanes.
If you want a bit more information on the previous subjects, read FAA Advisory Circular 20-207E.
Aircraft Bill Of Sale
You will need to produce the proper bill of sale for the inspector. If you bought your helicopter directly from the kit manufacturer, then the bill of sale is typically included with your inventory documents. If you bought the kit from another person or persons, the reverse side of the original certificate of registration contains the necessary transfer of ownership required for registration continuity. There may be some other red tape (or forms) associated with buying an uncompleted kit from a second party so a phone call or trip to your local FSDO may be in order.
Aircraft & Engine Logbooks
You will need both of these logbooks present and the intial logbook entries completed for each. These logbooks are available from most pilot shops.
The aircraft or airframe logbook should contain the aircraft data such as model and serial number, main component serial numbers (such as main rotor blades, tail rotor blades, engine, etc). Applicable weight and balance data of the completed helicopter (with all installed equipment) and any entries pertaining to service must be completed. The engine logbook should contain the engine serial number and any service records to date.
The inspector will make an entry in the aircraft or airframe logbook attesting to the successful completion of the inspection and that the aircraft is airworthy. Typically, the inspector makes no entry in the engine logbook. He may, however, review the entries to make sure that the data between the logbooks do in fact match.
Checklist of Items That May or May Not Be Required During Final Inspection
Of course, when it comes this point in your construction, there may be some items that either the FAA or DAR may or may not need to see or have. Each inspector, although compliant to all the items above, may also suggest the following:
FAA Order Airworthiness Certification of Aircraft and Related Products (FAA form 8130.2D)
You should have a copy of this order with you (and present it if requested) when the FAA or DAR inspects your aircraft. There is nothing to fill out in this document. It is, however, the ultimate source of information regarding all Federal Regulations governing the entire gamut of experimental, amateur-built aircraft.
FAA Advisory Circular 20-27E
This document is pretty helpful. It contains a great deal of information specific to the certification of experimental amateur-built aircraft and even has some sample forms filled out for you. You should print out this document and have it present during the inspection.
The FAA does not charge for inspecting experimental-amateur built aircraft. However DARs do. Expect $300 to $500 for the DARs service although that may even change in the near future with new FAA EDAR regulations.
DARs schedule inspections rather quickly while the wait for an FAA inspector could take weeks, maybe even months. It's your choice, but with a little pre-planning your savings will be worth it. The list of available DARs should be available through your local FSDO.
Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application (FAA form 8610-2)
Might as well have it ready now because once you get the certificate of airworthiness, you are eligible for the FAA rating of Repairman - experimental amateur-built aircraft. This will allow you to do all the conditional inspections (similar to annual inspections for certifcated aircraft) on your aircraft only.
You can download the form below in pdf format. The FAA/DAR may or may not want to see this during the inspection - just take this form with your aircraft registration and Special Airworthiness Certificate down to your local FSDO and they'll handle all the details. Remember the black ink pen and your photo ID.
A few hints...
Be on time for your inspection. In fact, be early and be prepared. Have all the documents well presented and well organized in a folder or placed on a table in a neat fashion. Prepare the hangar (or wherever the helicopter will be during the inspection) so that it is in a clean and orderly state. Remove any inspection and/or body panels ahead of time. Sweep the floor. Clean the helicopter.
Remove and/or store all non-essential parts, tools, etc.
If the area is cold, try to get a heater. If it's hot, offer a fan.
Offer flashlights, mirrors or other inspection tools that may help the inspector with his or her job.
Memorize many of the more common torque values, measurements and tolerances.
Have the RotorWay construction and service manuals handy (final inspection list properly initialed/signed off).
Don't speak until the inspector asks you a specific question. Be brief and concise with your answers.
Download the Documents (UPDATED 27 January, 2003)
The FAA documents you will require are available from your local FSDO or just click the link below. You will need Adobe PDF reader to view the files in PDF format.
AC20-27E Advisory Circular 20-207E Certification and Operation of Amateur-built Aircraft. 8130.2D - FAA Order Airworthiness Certification of Aircraft and Related Products (Change 3 incorporated)
Below is the EAA inspection guide to experimental amateur-built helicopters. It does not specifically pertain to RotorWay International helicopter kits, but it is a good reference document to have completed prior to your inspection. Courtesy of the EAA.
Experimental Amateur-Built Helicopter
Certification Inspection Guide
This document has been developed for use by Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASIs) and Designated Airworthiness Representatives (DARs) as a basic inspection guideline for certification of experimental amateur-built helicopter. This guide is not intended to be all-inclusive for every variation of experimental amateur-built helicopter. But, it is general enough in scope to show that the certification inspection is not to be a detailed Annual type inspection since the builder/applicant has already declared that the helicopter is "airworthy" by signing the application for the airworthiness certificate. The ASI/DAR issues the special airworthiness certificate for operating the experimental amateur-built helicopter. The ASI/DAR, by use of the following guide, should be able to perform what amounts to an in-depth pre-flight that should reasonably assure that the helicopter will operate as intended.
PRELIMINARY TO THE HELICOPTER INSPECTION
A. Confirm all paperwork is complete, and a Builder’s Log or similar type record of construction is available for review. Registration: AC Form 8050-1, pink slip or AC Form 8050-3. The helicopter must be registered before an airworthiness certificate can be issued. Check with Oklahoma City, Aircraft Registration Branch, prior to leaving office. Application for Airworthiness Certificate, FAA Form 8130-6. Completed and signed. Eligibility Statement Amateur-Built Aircraft, FAA Form 8130-12. (Notarized) Aircraft Weight and Balance Information, that includes a list of installed equipment. Completed Program Letter. Bill of Sale. Check that no letter of denial is on file. Review 14 CFR Part 61.31(k).
B. Does the builder have logbooks for the airframe and the engine? Some type of permanent record is needed for the airframe in order to have a place to record the issuance of the airworthiness certificate by the ASI or DAR. It is also recommended that separate record be provided for the engine.
C. The helicopter must be 100% complete. The engine should have been run for at least 1 hour, including a full power run to verify and ensure maximum designed RPM is attainable per appropriate manuals. The engine run information should be recorded in the helicopter maintenance records. Engine compression test information should be available for review.
D. The engine cowling(s) should be opened or removed (as applicable) to allow access to the engine compartment. Inspection panels should be opened or removed (as Applicable) for visual access.
E. Verify that the Weight and Balance has been computed to include forward limit, aft limit, and maximum gross weight for the helicopter. These calculations should be reviewed for accuracy by the inspector. Will the helicopter be within CG and at/under maximum gross eight with the proposed pilot and full fuel tanks? And possible passengers?
F. Ask the builder if any modifications have been made to the kit/plans concerning the structure, components, or systems of the helicopter, other than those recommended by the kit/plan manufacturer/supplier. Modifications made during the construction phase do not alter or delay the airworthiness inspection process. Major changes to the helicopter occur only after the initial airworthiness certificate and operating limitations have been issued.
G. Compare some sample parts of the helicopter with the plans. Examine samples of workmanship such as: glue joints, welding, riveting, and composite lay-up.
H. Does the builder have any record of in-process inspections recorded in Builder’s Log? Typically, two interim and one final visit are recorded as being performed by an EAA Technical Counselor or A&P mechanic. Interim inspections are not mandatory but highly recommended. Per FAA Order 8130.2D paragraph 127e(1), FAA ASI’s or DAR’s will not conduct in-progress inspections during the construction of the helicopter.
I. Review FAA Order 8130.2D, paragraph 134b(3) Note., to determine whether the Phase I test flight time is 25 or 40 hours. To be eligible for the 25 hours, the certificated engine and rotor blades combination when installed, must be "airworthy." This means, the engine, rotor blades, and driveline must meet its type design and be in a condition for safe operation. All applicable Airworthiness Directives (AD’s) must be complied with at this time. If these conditions are not met, the helicopter limitations will mandate the 40 hour Phase I test-flight time requirement.
NOTE: AD’s do not apply to experimental amateur-built aircraft. If the builder seeks the 25 hour test flight requirement then applicable AD’s must be applied to the engine and rotor baldes prior to the certification inspection. Once the experimental amateur-built helicopter is certified by you and operates, the type certificated (TC) engine and rotor blades no longer conform to the type certificate and future AD’s do not have to be applied. The FAA and EAA suggest the builder/owner review all future AD’s and determine whether or not to apply them, but applying AD’s to an experimental amateur-built aircraft is not a regulatory requirement.
J. If the builder states he/she will only be flying in uncontrolled airspace, no flight instruments are required. If the builder states he/she will be flying day VFR only, then position lights are not required. However, if the builder states he/she will be flying at night, IMC, or into controlled airspace, then the limitations you issue must state the appropriate instruments/lights are required by 14 CFR 91.127, 91.157, 91.171, 91.205, 91.207, 91.209, 91.211, and 91.215. Refer to FAA Order 8130.2D paragraph 134 for examples.
Definition: Airworthiness Inspections are completed via a visually accessible pre-flight technique. For the purpose of this inspection guide, "visually accessible" means that a section, area, part, system, etc., of the helicopter, can be viewed by the opening of a hatch/door or the removal of an inspection plate. It does not mean the removal of equipment, components, or the disassembly of any part of the helicopter that can not be performed by simple means. Safety Alert: Care must be taken to ensure you do not have the builder start the helicopter and engage the rotor system prior to finishing the inspection and all access/inspection panels have been replaced. Per FAA Order 8130.2D, paragraph 128b(7) Note., the builder has certified the helicopter as airworthy and has completed the required ground run, so a ground run at the completion of the inspection process is not a mandatory event for issuing the airworthiness certificate.
Ensure engine ignition switch(s) and other switches are OFF.
Check that there are no sharp corners or edges to catch hands, shoes or clothing.
Check for passenger warning placards (2 seats or more).
Check that instruments are secure and marked/calibrated as required, with red/yellow/green and slippage markings. Ask the builder if quantity readings were checked for fuel and sight gauge(s).
Check fuel selector operation (shut off and flow, all tanks), and labeling (if applicable). Can the pilot reach the fuel selector while strapped in with the shoulder harness locked?
Check solid feel of pedal flight controls and their full range of movement to detect for possible interference with radios, electrical wires, instrument lines, and engine controls. Are they installed per the plan/drawing from the manufacturer?
Check the cyclic and collective flight controls at their full range of movement to detect for possible interference with radios, electrical wires, instrument lines, and engine controls. Are they installed per the plan/drawing from the manufacturer?
Check seat and shoulder harness/seat belt installation. Are they installed in accordance with the plan/drawing as recommended by the manufacturer?
Check canopy and /or door latching system for proper operation and security.
Check windshield and other windows for security.
Check for compass and a correction card, and other instruments/avionics (if applicable)
Check visually accessible items with emphasis on flight and engine controls, for locknuts, cotter pins, safety wire, etc.
Check visually accessible stabilizers, landing gear, drive system, and rotor mast attachment points.
Check, visually, the attachment points of the body. Verify the correct registration numbers are permanently marked in accordance with 14 CFR part
45, subpart C. If a battery is installed, check for mounting security and vent system (if applicable). Where accessible, check control cables/rods for binding, clearance, smooth and snag-free operation, and safety of turnbuckles.
Has the control cable tension been set as recommended by the kit/plans manufacturer?
Check fuel caps for security and vent system for operation (if applicable).
Check fuel placard (by fuel cap) indicating authorized fuel type and quantity.
Check instrument static ports for blockage (if applicable). Are the landing light(s) and position light(s) secure (if applicable).
Check windshield trim for proper installation (if applicable).
Empennage and Tail Boom:
Horizontal and vertical stabilizers, check for security, attachment points and travel (if applicable).
Check tail boom attachment points.
Check and control mechanisms for function and security. Check safety pins/wire, as applicable.
Check control counter-weights for security (if applicable).
Check the helicopter data plate for builder’s name, model designation, and builder’s serial number.
Check tail rotor blades for condition, bolts properly torqued and safetied, proper travel limits, and response to tail rotor control (pedal) movement in the cabin. Pedals should be moved to their maximum limits. Pushing the right pedal should result in right yaw, with both tail rotor blades moving at the same time and amount. Has tail rotor leading edge tape been installed (if applicable)? Are trim tabs installed? Are they correctly set for the initial test flight? Inspect the tail rotor drive shaft installation for security and slippage marks?
Check tail rotor gearbox mounting hardware for security, sight gauge oil level, oil reservoir cap vented or not, chip detector installation (if applicable), and wiring for security.
Check tail boom electrical wiring and push-pull tubes/cables for security and proper tension.
Visually check attach points, strut extension, and extra allowance for flex brake lines (if applicable), brake system, tires, and wheel fairings.
Does helicopter have retractable landing gear? Was a gear retract and extension performed with the installed tire/wheel combination? Was an emergency gear extension performed (if applicable)? An entry in the maintenance record of this function by the builder is usually sufficient. Was landing gear wheel alignment checked? If equipped with conventional gear (a tail wheel), will the helicopter taxi in a straight line? Does the tail wheel have a brake system installed? Does the brake system work? If equipped with a fixed landing gear system (skids), check for proper attachment and proper skid spread/deformity.
Has the engine ground run been performed and recorded in the engine maintenance record? Has the engine been installed in accordance with the kit/plans manufacturer’s recommendations? Is the engine and engine mounts secure and grounded with electrical ground straps? Are the fuel and oil lines compatible with the fluid. All fluid lines should be of material and installed as recommended by the kit/plans manufacturer. Fluid lines and filters should be located away from the exhaust system. Is the exhaust system secure, and does it have a heater muff? (Carbon Monoxide in the cabin must be considered).
Is the firewall fabricated from material recommended by the kit/plans manufacturer? Does the engine have carburetor heat or alternate air, and does it work?
Are the spark plug wires secured to the plugs. Ask for a record of the differential compression/cylinder pressure test to determine if it meets specifications of the engine manufacturer. If any cylinders are below specifications, then don’t issue the A/W certificate until repairs are made.
Check engine and rotor blade controls for operation, security, and routing.
Check security of fuel and electrical system components and alignment of drive belts where applicable.
Check oil and fuel tanks for security and installation in accordance with the kit/plans manufacturers recommendations.
Check oil placard (by oil cap) indicating authorized oil type and quantity
Check control cables/rods for binding, clearance, tension, safety, and smooth snag-free operation.
Check for safety of turnbuckles (if applicable) Is there a low point sump drain for fuel and/or oil?
Are the mounting bolts secure, torque seal applied (if applicable).
Check oil levels in all sight gauges.
Check for chip detector(s) (if applicable).
Check for temperature gauge/telatemps (if applicable).
Have the rotor blade bolts been properly torqued (Builder’s Log entry), and are they safetied?
Has rotor blade track been checked? Are the rotor blades damaged or nicked?
Check for delamination or wrinkles in the blade skin. Are the rotor blade tips painted for visibility and blade leading edge tape installed (if applicable)?
Are trim tabs installed? Are they correctly set for the initial test flight?
Check for blade droop, set as recommended by the kit/plans manufacturer (if applicable).
Check for blade pitch control by moving both collective and cyclic controls to their extreme limits. The right pitch control tube/link should go up and the left one down when the cyclic is moved to the right and opposite when moved to the left. Are the collective stops set as recommended by the kit/plans manufacturer?
Check low pitch setting for autorotation, per designers specifications.
Check the swashplate and pitch control tubes for security and proper movement when the cyclic controls are operated from the cockpit. The forward edge of the swashplate should go up when the cyclic stick is pulled back. When the collective is increased, both blades should increase pitch at the same time and amount.
Check Main Rotor drag links for installation and security (if installed).
Is the helicopter equipped in accordance with FAR 91.205 for the operations that the owner/operator intends to fly, or for the limitations issued in Phase II? (Night VFR, IFR).
If a ballistic chute is installed is it installed I/A/W the manufacturers instructions?
If the helicopter has 2 seats or more, check for installation and operation of the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) per CFR 14 Part 91.207.
Is the pitot static system/tube/probe secure and open?
Are any of the fluid systems leaking?
Turn electrical power switches on – do the landing/Navigation lights work (if applicable), raise the collective and check for the low RPM warning light/horn (if applicable), and check illumination of all caution & warning lights (if applicable).
Bottom of the Main Rotor blades should be painted black to prevent flicker vertigo.
THIS HELICOPTER (List Model, S/N) _____________________, REGISTRATION NUMBER, N___________WAS INSPECTED ON ___/___/___. IT WAS FOUND ELIGIBLE FOR CERTIFICATE REQUESTED. ENTRY WAS MADE IN THE HELICOPTER RECORDS AND THE APPROPRIATE LIMITATIONS WERE ISSUED.
Experimental Amateur-Built Airworthiness Certification and Operating Limitations are issued per the current FAA Order 8130.2 (e.g., 8130.2D, dated 9/30/99) and appropriate FAA Bulletins (e.g., HBGA 99-13, dated 7/14/99).
For further information, please contact:
EAA Government Programs Executive Director
920.426.6522 - Fax: 920.426.6560