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Frequently Asked Questions about Homebuilt Airplanes.

Do I have to pay Customs duty on kit planes?

No. You don't have to pay Customs duty if the kit is brought in one package. Specialized materials to build airplanes and imported hardware are subject to duties varying from 5 to 15%.



What is the difference between an ultralight and a kitplane?

The ultralight (which could be produced as a kit) is a powered flying machine weighing less than 150kg empty with one or two seats (for training). They may be operated in a designated Air Park area only. A kitplane (Malaysian DCA definition) is a homebuilt plane, built from plans or a manufactured kit. The max authorised for a kitplane may not exced 750 kg. For full details, see AIC 5/97 under Rules & Regulations.



How much do they cost?

This is a question that is best answered by 'Depends on what you want'. A good flying ultralight machine can be bought for RM40,000 and a kit built airplane by the time it's complete could cost upwards for RM 80,000. A Quicksilver GT bought and operated in Malaysia cost RM 80,000. An RV-6A (a fast cruising airplane) kit complete with engine, instruments and radio could cost RM150,000 and up. A Merlin GT with a 100hp CAM engine was put together for a total cost of RM 85,000 in Malaysia. (1997 Prices)



What kind of airplanes can I build?

Literally any type within reason. You could build one-man ultralights, powered gliders, two place low and slow airplanes, cruisers or aerobatic machines. It all depends on what you want it to be capable of doing for you: Low and slow, silent flight, fast with utility, aerobatic? - they are all available.



What types of engines can I use?

Many types are available depending on your 'expertise' with engines! For years homebuilders have relied on certified aircraft engines. But as the cost of these engine rises, alternatives have been found. Several companies are building specialty engines specifically for homebuilders use and others are adapting automotive engines. An example is the Canadian developed CAM 100 engine which in its original form is from a Honda Civic! The Rotax engines have become very popular over the years and have received a lot of attention. There are both two and four stroke, direct drive and geared engines for homebuilt aircraft use. Some are air cooled others have water cooling. All are fairly reasonable in cost compared to their certified counterparts. Your best bet is to follow the recommendations of the airframe manufacturer until experience is gained.



Can I carry passengers in my homebuilt airplane?
All homebuilt airplanes are recognised as non-certified aircraft flown on a limited category Permit to Fly certificate. In Malaysia these aircraft will carry the Registration marks commencing with either 'E' for homebuilt/kit built aircraft or 'U' for ultralights. Eg. 9M-EAA or 9M-UOA. All these aircraft must carry a passenger warning placard informing the passenger that "This aircraft is amateur-built and does not carry a standard certificate of airworthiness."This placard announces to the potential passenger that he/she is travelling in the homebuilt aircraft at his/her own risk. Notwithstanding, it is always good for you to inform your passenger(s) and if necessary get a written indeminity. You may not carry passengers for hire and reward.



How safe are homebuilt airplanes for flying?

You are as safe as you want to be. Little definitive data exists comparing homebuilts to certified aircraft. Some hold that accident rates for certified aircraft and homebuilts are about the same. The highest number of problems, incidents and accidents to homebuilt aircraft appear to be in flight test stage. While this is to be expected, it can be minimised a great deal by very careful building and engaging an EAA Flight Advisor who will advise you on the various pitfalls to be avoided - before first flight. Certified aircraft seem to have more unintentional encounters with bad weather that leads to accidents while homebuilts seem to fare worst in accidents resulting in over-stress from the aerobatics and fuel/engine related forced landings. Safety is still a function of the pilots ability to make intelligent decisions at all times, as with all aviation, homebuilt or commercial.



What health hazards might be involved while building?

The most obvious are those involed with common workshop practices, such as minding basic safety practices - wearing protective lenses, handling power tools properly etc. Subtle dangers exists where chemicals are concerned. Composite structures require handling of chemical resins that can be more toxic than simple adhesives. Paint systems also require extra care. Epoxies emit fumes that can cause your body to build an allergic reaction to the chemical. In these cases, skin ventilated. Common sense and adherence to operating instructions and warning labels at all times should minimise health hazards common to all workshops, whether building airplanes or repairing cars.



How long will a homebuilt take to complete?
Always longer than you think! The amount of time you spend building on the aircraft is of course directly proportional to the project's complexity. Kit manufacturers quote their completion times in man hours. Typically an ultralight could be put together in 150 hours. A low and slow basic two seat trainer type, such as MERLIN in 350 hours. A more complex undertaking would be an all metal aircraft such as the RV series. This aircraft generally requires upwards of 2000 hours of work. The time taken to complete a project also depends on how much 'leisure' time of work you can put into it over a period of time. An object lesson here is to remember that EAA members are a fraternity and most will be happy to help along the way for nothing other than camaraderie. First flight for an EAA member is a great time to be shared by all members.



What tools and facilities will I need?
Many designers and kit manufacturers will specify the tools needed for construction in their particular case. Every builder will need a set of basic mechanic's tools. Nothing fancy, but cheap tools often cost more money and time, when they don't do the job as advertised. Your collection of tools can be built up as the project proceeds. For a shop you will need a space of approx. 5m x 10m for average sized homebuilts. Smaller spaces may be used if final assembly and fitting can be done at a more suitable place such as airport hangars. There are many many other items which are often nice to have but not necessarily mandatory. One grand champion airplane from '92 was built on the owner's back patio! Whatever space you use, the area should be well lighted and ventilated.



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