For most people, owning your own aircraft is something typically reserved for the rich and famous, but what if you could build your own airplane at home in your garage or workshop? Building your own aircraft is actually easier than you think, and you will likely save a lot of money on the cost of your craft when you build it yourself.
Although you can purchase the individual parts of an aircraft yourself and assemble them, most aviation enthusiasts who build their own planes do so using prefabricated kits. After you’ve followed the template and assembled your aircraft, you can then begin to customize it. For example, you can order aircraft landing lights to your specifications or have custom-made interior elements designed for comfort.
Is It Legal To Build Your Own Aircraft?
Regarding the legal ramifications of building your own aircraft, most countries allow for the manufacture of these machines as long as they are built and operate within the guidelines set forth by the governing aviation authority. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the main body tasked with the regulation and enforcement of guidelines that pertain to flying.
Before you build your aircraft in the United States, you’re encouraged to contact the FAA and discuss your project. Specifically, you will want to talk to a representative from the FAA Manufacturing Inspection District Office. This is the office that can provide you with guidance regarding any regulations your craft may face, and you’ll also learn about specific requirements surrounding the inclusion of things like aircraft lights and onboard electrical components.
Keep in mind that following safety protocols is universal across all flying machines, so even if you’re building your own aircraft from a kit, you will still need to follow guidance related to aviation lighting, aircraft lamps, aircraft light bulbs and more. Failure to follow regulations as set forth by the FAA in the United States for safety components like aircraft landing lights can result in penalties that include fines, fees and the loss of your pilot certificate.
How Will You Transport And Store Your Aircraft?
Something else to consider when thinking about building your own aircraft is how you will transport it and where you will store it. While you might think that taking off and landing from your neighborhood sounds convenient, this usually is against the law. As such, you’ll need to be able to get your aircraft to and from a local airport or airfield for use. Many private aircraft owners tow small-engine planes using commuter vehicles, but the towing capacity and proper permits will need to be considered before hooking your plane up to any old vehicle.
Storing your aircraft when not in use is something else to plan for. If you have the space and there are no Homeowner’s Association regulations forbidding it, you may be able to store your aircraft at home. For most people, however, this isn’t feasible, so private storage at a hanger facility will need to be available.
Do You Have The Required Training?
Although most people can legally build their own aircraft, the legal ability to fly the aircraft may be a different story. Once again, the FAA in the United States is the body responsible for regulating who can operate an aircraft, and different types of craft require different types of pilot certificates. In order to get the pilot certificate specific to your aircraft, you may need to undergo formal training, pass written and practical exams as well as log a specific amount of hours in the cockpit with a certified flight instructor.
While these criteria are not impossible to meet, they may hinder your ability to fly the craft you’ve built. Once again, you’re encouraged to check in with the FAA in the United States or the governing body for aviation in your country to learn more before you begin your project.