Helicopter Experimental Category
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When building your own helicopter (kit), other rules apply when it comes to getting an Airworthiness Certificate. The main
difference is that there is no design and production certification process. With experimental aircraft, the two most important
things to be verified are that at least 50% of the aircraft was built by you, and that it is safe to fly (i.e. it is airworthy).
This verification is achieved following an inspection by the local aviation authority.
The scope of the 'Special Airworthiness Certificate' in the experimental category, is quite different to a normal Airworthiness
certificate (based on a type certification) since an experimental helicopter is not allowed to be used for any commercial activity.
An important assumption of the whole experimental airworthiness concept is that, because at least 50% of the aircraft was built
by the owner (who is also the builder, by definition), he will be able to carry out the required maintenance. This is how
airworthiness is guaranteed when the aircraft is used by the owner ('continuing airworthiness').
United States of America
DIY helicopter building requires a 'Special Airworthiness Certificate' in the experimental category.. "The special airworthiness
certificate in the experimental category is issued to operate an aircraft that does not have a type certificate or does not
conform to its type certificate and is in a condition for safe operation. Additionally, this certificate is issued to operate
a primary category kit-built aircraft that was assembled without the supervision and quality control of the production
Special airworthiness certificates may be issued in the experimental category for the following purposes:
- Research and development
- Showing compliance with regulations
- Crew training
- Air racing
- Market surveys
- Operating amateur-built, kit-built, or light-sport aircraft
- Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)
So, the 'Special Airworthiness Certificate' in the experimental category applies when building your kit helicopter at home. Of
course, you will only be awarded this certificate if you really built the aircraft yourself. The FAA demands proof of this,
which is one of the reasons why you must document the building process. The FAA will also want to inspect the airworthiness of
the experimental aircraft you build.
When you have an Airworthiness Certificate, like all aircraft, the experimental helicopter must be registered with the FAA,
who provides a Certificate of Registration. The registration string must be visible on the fuselage.
In Europe, the situation is much more complicated, as there are no European Union (EASA) regulations covering experimental aircrafts, which are the responsibility of the national authorities,
(ANNEX II from Regulation 1592/2002
). You can find an overview
of the Authorities on the Aviation Authorities Europe
However, there are some basic steps that are common to most countries. The first requirement is to get an Airworthiness Certificate,
which again involves proving that you built the aircraft yourself, and having it inspected by the local authority. The second step
is to get the aircraft registered with the local aviation authority.