Powered Parachute Flying at Sunset

Gary Hamilton takes to the winter sky in his powered parachute in Greenville, IL.

Photograph by Roy Beisswenger

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Sport Pilot In 10 Days

Getting Your Airworthiness Inspection

If You Have An Aircraft With A Registration, You Need to Get An Airworthiness Inspection to Finish the Process.

If you have a Ultralight Transition aircraft, you have until January 31, 2010 to finish the Airworthiness Inspection.

After the January 31, 2010 deadline, it is very unlikely that you will be able to fly your aircraft legally ever again. Even if you choose not to become a Sport Pilot yourself, it makes sense to N-number your aircraft to protect your monetary investment. After January 2010, your aircraft will be worth just a fraction of what it could be if you take the time to keep it legal.

How To Get It Done.

Roy Beisswenger at Easy Flight is a Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR). That means that he is able to do perform airworthiness inspections for both Experimental Light Sport Aircraft (E-LSA) and Special Light Sport Aircraft (S-LSA). He is able to do airworthiness inspections for powered parachutes, airplanes, and weight shift control aircraft.

Not only can he do the final inspections for you, but he can help you all the way through the process. Hopefully some of the information and links below can help you out.

Getting Started.

You have come to a great place to get started looking at what you need to N-number your aircraft. If your aircraft is registered, you need to get an FAA exemption from the EAA, USUA or ASC before the DAR can do their work. You will need to be a member of whichever organization you use for the exemption, but the exemption paperwork itself is free.

In order to learn more about the EAA exemption, get a copy of it, and apply for it, visit: http://www.sportpilot.org/learn/lsa/transitioning_ul_aircraft.html.

In order to learn more about the USUA exemption, get a copy of it, and apply for it, visit: http://www.usua.org/SportPilot/

Getting Your Aircraft Ready.

Your Aircraft is going to have to be in an airworthy condition to pass the inspection. The inspection checklist I use for airplanes can be found here. But the aircraft is also going to be inspected for things like placarding, marking, and warning labels. Here is a list of things you need to do in the area of marking and labeling.

  • N-Numbers.
    • N-Numbers need to be displayed at least 3 inches high on an aircraft for which the FAA has issued an experimental certificate under §21.191 (d), §21.191 (g), or §21.191 (i) of this chapter to operate as an exhibition aircraft, an amateur-built aircraft, or a light-sport aircraft when the maximum cruising speed of the aircraft does not exceed 180 knots CAS.

    • Characters must be two-thirds as wide as they are high, except the number "1", which must be one-sixth as wide as it is high, and the letters "M" and "W" which may be as wide as they are high.

    • Characters must be formed by solid lines one-sixth as thick as the character is high.

    • The space between each character may not be less than one-fourth of the character width.

    • If either one of the surfaces authorized for displaying required marks under Sec. 45.25 is large enough for display of marks meeting the size requirements of this section and the other is not, full size marks shall be placed on the larger surface. If neither surface is large enough for full-size marks, marks as large as practicable shall be displayed on the larger of the two surfaces. If no surface authorized to be marked by Sec. 45.27 is large enough for full-size marks, marks as large as practicable shall be placed on the largest of the authorized surfaces. However, powered parachutes and weight-shift-control aircraft must display marks at least 3 inches high.

  • Data Plate.
    • Aircraft covered under Sec. 21.182 of this chapter must be identified, and each person who manufactures an aircraft engine under a type or production certificate shall identify that engine, by means of a fireproof plate that has the information specified in Sec. 45.13 of this part marked on it by etching, stamping, engraving, or other approved method of fireproof marking.

    • The identification plate for aircraft must be secured in such a manner that it will not likely be defaced or removed during normal service, or lost or destroyed in an accident. The aircraft identification plate must be secured to the aircraft fuselage exterior so that it is legible to a person on the ground, and must be either adjacent to and aft of the rear-most entrance door or on the fuselage surface near the tail surfaces.

    • The identification required by Sec. 45.11 (a) and (b) shall include the following information:
      • (1) Builder's name.
      • (2) Model designation.
      • (3) Builder's serial number.

  • Passenger Warning.
    • You need to have a label with the statement for an E-LSA that says, "This aircraft is an Experimental Light Sport Aircraft and does not comply with Federal safety regulations for standard aircraft."

  • Experimental.
    • The operator must also display on an experimental aircraft near each entrance to the cabin, cockpit, or pilot station, in letters not less than 2 inches nor more than 6 inches high, the word "experimental."

  • Controls and Switches.
    • Controls and switches should be marked with what they do and how to operate them. The concept is to identify controls for pilots who may otherwise not be familiar with your aircraft. Examples:
      • Throttle should be marked as "Throttle" along with "Open" and "Closed"
      • Mags should be marked as "Mag" along with "On" and "Off" Positions
      • EGT Gauge should be marked with "EGT" and the Max Value.
      • Warning "Solo Front Seat Only" if appropriate.
      • N-number should be displayed on the control panel.

    • (Note: Flight controls need not be marked.)

  • Fuel System.
    • Wherever you add fuel, the type of fuel/octane and quantity should be marked.

    • If two-stroke oil is used, the type and quantity should be marked.


  • Registration Card.
    • The small white registration card you received from the FAA needs to be presented before the inspection.

  • Program Letter.
    • The Program Letter is another critical part of the application package and should be faxed ahead of time to (618) 664-9706. You can get a sample Program Letter by clicking here.

  • Application for Airworthiness.
    • This form should be completed and faxed back to (618) 664-9706 well before the inspection. You can get a blank copy of the form by clicking here.

  • Exemption Letter and Copy of the Exemption.
    • This is the letter we talked about above under the heading of "Getting Started." This letter will come from the EAA, USUA, or ASC. Remember, if you own a transitioning ultralight you will need a copy of the exemption, a letter from the sponsoring organization (i.e. EAA or USUA) to let you use it, and proof of membership to the organization. That information will also need to be faxed ahead of time to (618) 664-4831.

  • Weight and Balance.
    • You will need to have your weight and balance information filled out and faxed to (618) 664-4831 before the date of inspection.

The Inspection.

  • The owner of the aircraft has to be available during the inspection. There will be forms to sign and briefings to receive before the process can be completed.

What You Should Get at the End of the Process.

  • When you are finished you should receive the following documents:
    • Airworthiness Certificate
    • Operating Limitations
    • Logbook Endorsement. (It is important that you have your Maintenance Logbook there for the inspection.)

  • There may be other documents you will receive, depending on circumstances.

2000 World Champion pilot, Eddie Johnson, taxis to the edge of the field in his Powrachute after providing a tandem flight at Sun 'n Fun.

For More Information
Roy Beisswenger
PO Box 38
Greenville, IL 62246

(618) 664-9706

• E-mail Roy •