General Aviation Homebuilt Aircraft

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A homebuilt aircraft or an amateur-built aircraft is part of the general aviation and it is usually constructed from scratch by non-professionals and may be licensed by the FAA rules and regulations as experimental. Furthermore, the builders are required in most cases to design the craft for recreation and education purposes. The primary builder can apply for a repairman’s certificate for that airframe so that he can perform most inspections, repairs and maintenance.

Homebuilt aircraft don’t have such a good safety record as certified general aviation machines, with a rate of 21.6 accidents per 100,000 flight hours. The accident rates for certified planes is much smaller, 6.75 per 100,000 flight hours. The second owners are the ones that get into accidents most of the time, because of insufficient flight training. Moreover, homebuilts in the US have a 3-4 times higher accident rate then the rest of the general aviation fleet, according a 2012 study by the US National Transportation Safety Board.

Homebuilt aircraft are small one to four-seat sports planes constructed from metal frames, fabric covered wood, plywood and even composites and fiberglass. Full aluminum construction techniques pioneered by Hugo Junkers in the World War one era are also used. The engines are the same or similar to engines mounted on certified aircraft such as Continental, Jabiru and Lycoming. Moreover, some builders use modified car engines like the Chevrolet Corvair six-cylinder engines, Volkswagen air-cooled flat-4s and Subaru-based liquid-cooled engines to reduce costs. Inventive designers equip their homebuilt machine with motorcycle and chainsaw motors, although dedicated general aviation engines are more reliable.

Team Mini-MAX is a large family of amateur-built aircraft with a single engine and a single seat, released in 1984. Its designers aim to create an aircraft that requires a minimum of building skill, space, time and has a minimum cost while providing maximum performance. All models are made from wood truss with plywood gussets and are covered with doped aircraft fabric. A short-span 25 ft. wing is common for all planes. The general aviation aircraft also has a high winged model, the Hi-MAX that shares most parts and design. Its nosewheel has a rocker type rubber shock absorber controllable from the pedals.

Van’s RV-3 is a single engine aircraft with one seat produced by Van’s Aircraft in the U.S. The RV-3 is available as a tail-wheel plane, although some have a nose-wheel. Richard VanGrunsven created the RV-3 in the late 60’s as an attempt to recreate the Playboy’s amateur-built aircraft and also improve it. The plane has aerobatic capacities, fast cruise speeds and light handling. It can carry 30 US gallons of fuel and has 600 mile range. The RV-3 is equipped with a Lycoming O-235 powerplant, although some designers mounted more powerful engines on the aircraft. An inexperienced builder requires 1300 hours to construct the RV-3.

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