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Getting your new aircraft registered, legal, and flying!

Paperwork and Inspections.


Registering and certifying your aircraft is straightforward but it does require time, energy, inspections, and a number of forms.  There also may be some frustration, but you must persevere after reaching this point!,  (FAA: AC 20-27G) contains a detailed explanation of the entire registration process. It is worth checking out. The FAA recommends beginning the registration process 60 to 120 days before completion of your aircraft.  Which really means 60 to 120 days before you want to fly it since most builders continue to work on their planes after they are flying.  

The things you will need to do to and complete that will allow you to fly and in some cases, maintain your aircraft are:


1.  Reserve a Registration Number (N-number) unique to your aircraft. 

2.  Bill of Sale if applicable.

3.  Affidavit of Ownership form.

4.  Aircraft registration.

5.  Application for Airworthiness Certificate.

6.  Eligibility Statement for an Amateur-Built aircraft.

7.  Application for Repairman Certificate.

Nothing to it after spending thousands of hours building your aircraft!

Following is more detail on the registration process.  Links to the forms and info are provided.

1.  New Registration Numbers (N-numbers) can be checked for availability and reserved on the FAA websiteThe number can be up to 5 characters and the last two can be letters.  It will cost $10.00 to request an N-number and once you get one reserved it is good for one year.  Additional years can be reserved at a $10.00 fee per year.

2.  Aircraft Bill of Sale, AC form 8050-2.  You will need a signed Bill of Sale from the manufacturer if you purchased a kit or partially completed project.

3.  Affidavit of Ownership, AC form 8050-88.  The affidavit needs to state that you built the aircraft from a kit or parts and that the person signing the affidavit is the owner of the aircraft.

4.  Aircraft Registration, AC form 8050-1The applicant for registration of an aircraft must submit evidence of ownership that meets the requirements prescribed in 14 CFR Part 47. AC Form 8050-2, Aircraft Bill of Sale, or its equivalent, must be used as evidence of ownership. If not purchased from the last registered owner, the applicant must submit conveyances completing the chain of ownership from the last registered owner to the applicant.

5.  Application for Airworthiness Certificate, AC form 8130-6You won't get off the ground without an airworthiness Certificate.

6.  Eligibility Statement Amateur-Built aircraft, AC form 8130-12.  This form is to certify you complied with the 50% rule and fabricated at least 51% of the aircraft.

7.  Application for Repairman Certificate.  Now that your plane is flying, who better to do the maintenance and annual conditional inspections than you!  This certificate allows you to do that.

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Flight Testing

Once your plane is registered inspected and has a Special Airworthiness Certificate you are ready for the flight test phase.  Now is when things get exciting.  Now you are a Test Pilot!  Section 91.319(b) requires you to show that your aircraft is controllable at all its normal operating speeds during all the maneuvers you might expect to execute in the aircraft. You also need to show that your aircraft has no hazardous operating characteristics or design features

There are a specific number of hours you must complete during the test phase.  If your aircraft has a certified engine and propeller combination, you must complete 25 hours of flight time in the test phase.  If you have a non-certified engine and propeller you will need to conduct 40 hours of test fight time.  

The flight test area should be within a 25-statute-mile radius from the aircraft’s base of operation. The flight tests must be conducted over sparsely populated areas or open water in areas with light air traffic so the tests do not pose a hazard to other aircraft or persons and property on the ground.

You are not allowed to carry passengers during the flight test phase unless you have notified the FAA that your aircraft requires it during the registration process and they have approved it.  You are not allowed to receive flight instruction during flight testing.


The builder should come up with a program to test all aspects of the aircraft.  Rather than go into detail here, follow this link to the FAA Advisory Circular 90-89-B.  The FAA has laid out a detailed plan for a flight test program.  You can use it like it is or customize your own program but this will give you a list of the aspects of a thorough test program.

Then What?

Once you have completed all your required test flight hours and maneuvers your aircraft will be considered safe for continued flight.  You will now be able to take passengers and go beyond the 25-mile test flight area.  You will be free to sight-see, travel, get expensive hamburgers at far-off locations and more!

Now you are in aircraft owner mode and will have a whole new experience of fuel bills, hangar fees, and maintenance expenses.  It is all worth it though! 

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