Amateur built and experimental aircraft
Amateur-built aircraft are usually built from scratch, based on original or established designs, or from a kit. If a kit is used the builder must have completed the majority of the build for it to be considered an amateur-built aircraft. CASA rules about this can be found in Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR) Part 21.
Experimental and amateur-built aircraft include any aircraft that is fabricated and assembled by anyone for their own education and/or recreation.
There are currently more than 60 different designs and 100 different models of aircraft across the Australian amateur-built fleet. These aircraft include piston and jet-powered, single or twin-engine, and high-performance aircraft. As designs and technology have developed, the materials used to build aircraft have also advanced, with the wood, fabric and metal tubing of the 1930s being replaced by metal and, more recently, composite materials.
Amateur-built aircraft can be registered with CASA as VH aircraft or, if they meet certain performance, weight and design limitations, with Recreational Aviation Australia. If registered with RA-Aus they are only allowed to have a maximum take-off weight of up to 600kg and places for one or two occupants. The Sport Aircraft Association of Australia (SAAA) works with CASA to provide support for aircraft builders through training, test flights and airworthiness administration and approval processes.
The SAAA has developed an innovative analytical tool, the ‘risk profile radar’, which is proving to be very useful for guiding amateur builders in identifying and mitigating risk. For more information read the article published in the Nov/Dec 2013 edition of Flight Safety Australia or contact the SAAA.
Advice and guidance relating to CASR subpart 21 can be found at certification and airworthiness requirements for aircraft and parts.
To find your local chapter contact the SAAA.