Repair stations can test and inspect equipment on experimental aircraft.

SUMMARY:
In answering a question posed by the Aircraft Electronics Association whether a certificated repair station may perform maintenance described in Part 43 and required by §§ 91.411 and 91.413 on experimental aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration responded that, "We have identified no FAA regulations, including § 145.201(b), that would prohibit a certificated repair station from performing maintenance for an owner or operator who seeks to bring an experimental aircraft into compliance with §§ 91.411 and 91.413."

MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS: 
On April 27, 2015, the Aircraft Electronics Association requested a legal interpretation regarding whether a properly rated repair station may perform tests and inspections on altitude-keeping and transponder equipment for experimental aircraft (i.e., aircraft with experimental airworthiness certificates), in light of the fact that Parts 43 (maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding and alteration) and 145 (repair stations) of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) specifically do not apply to experimental aircraft.

The FAA stated that, "Furthermore, because Part 145 specifically does not apply to certain experimental aircraft, neither does the prohibition in § 145.201(b), that no repair station may 'maintain or alter any article for which it is not rated.' In other words, if an experimental aircraft, or a component of an experimental aircraft, is outside the scope of Part 145, then § 145.201(b) does not prohibit a repair station from performing maintenance on that aircraft or component."

The FAA concluded that, "We have identified no FAA regulations, including § 145.201(b), that would prohibit a certificated repair station from performing maintenance for an owner or operator who seeks to bring an experimental aircraft into compliance with §§ 91.411 and 91.413. Furthermore, although many experimental aircraft are categorically excluded from Parts 43 and 145, those aircraft are not excluded from §§ 91.411 and 91.413, which impose certain Part 43 requirements. Finally, §§ 91.411 and 91.413 require the equipment discussed in this interpretation to be tested by certain specified individuals or organizations and, as you state in your letter, in many cases a Part 145 repair station is the only viable option for the owner or operator of a general aviation aircraft."

AEA COMMENTARY:
Based on this FAA legal interpretation, altimeter system and altitude reporting equipment tests and inspections (§ 91.411) can be performed on an experimental, amateur-built (EAB) aircraft by any certificated repair station properly equipped to perform those functions and holding --

  1. An instrument rating, Class I.
  2. A limited instrument rating appropriate to the make and model of appliance to be tested.
  3. A limited rating appropriate to the test to be performed.
  4. An airframe rating appropriate to the airplane, or helicopter, to be tested.

ATC transponder tests and inspections (§ 91.413) can be performed on an EAB aircraft by any certificated repair station properly equipped to perform those functions and holding --

  1. A radio rating, Class III.
  2. A limited radio rating appropriate to the make and model transponder to be tested.
  3. A limited rating appropriate to the test to be performed.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact Ric Peri, vice president of government & industry affairs for AEA, by email at ricp@aea.net or by phone at 202-589-1144.

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