Handbook for Amateur-Built Aircraft in Canada
This handbook is intended to provide guidance on the process required to obtain a special certificate of airworthiness for aircraft in the amateur-built category in Canada. In a nut shell, it documents the documentation process. This is probably the least fun part of building a plane and the most difficult to follow.
Who's In Charge?
In order to better understand all of the processes involved, it's good to get an understanding of where they all come from.
It all starts with Transport Canada. The following quotes are directly from the Transport Canada Web Site.
- "Transport Canada is responsible for transportation policies and programs. It ensures that air, marine, road and rail transportation are safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible."
- "Transport Canada reports to Parliament and Canadians through the minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities"
The Act and Regulations
Clearly Transport Canada is the Federal Department responsible for air transportation. Transport Canada gets its authority from the Aeronautics Act. The "Aeronautics Act", Section 4.9 provides the Governor in Council with the ability to make regulations respecting aeronautics and in particular, respecting "the design, manufacture, distribution, maintenance, approval, installation, inspection, registration, licensing, identification and certification of aeronautical products."
The "Canadian Aviation Regulations" (CARs) are regulations created under the Aeronautics Act. CAR section 507.03 contains the provisions for the issuance of a "Special Certificate of Airworthiness" for amateur-built aircraft. In order to qualify for a Special Certificate of Airworthiness - Amateur-built, the aircraft must meet the criteria found in "Standard 507 - Flight Authority and Certification of Noise Compliance". Appendix D of standard 507 contains the initial standard operating conditions for amateur-built aircraft.
Section 549.01 of the "Canadian Aviation Regulations" contains the requirements for a person who intends to construct an aircraft and obtain a special certificate of airworthiness in the amateur-built category.
Despite the above regulations, there is currently an exemption, issued by the Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities, which exempts a person applying for special certificate of airworthiness in the amateur-built classification from the requirements of CARs section 549.01 and Chapter 549 of the Airworthiness Manual. The exemption includes an appendix A which lays out the standards of design and construction for amateur-built aircraft. The contents of appendix A are similar to the contents of Chapter 549.
MD-RA is short for Minister's Delegate Recreational Aviation. What is this? The Aeronautics Act section 4.3 allows the Minister to authorized any person or class of persons to exercise any powers, duties or functions of the Minister under the Act. There are some restrictions, but essentially, the Minister can delegate responsibility. An MD-RA Inspector is a person has been delegated by the Minister to perform inspections on aircraft under construction and, upon completion, issue the initial Special Certificate of Airworthiness and a restricted flight authority. MD-RA Inspection services has a website and co-ordinates the work of the MD-RA inspectors.
What Procedures Do We Follow?
The exemption from section 549.01 of the CARs and chapter 549 of the Airworthiness Manual - Airworthiness Standards - Amateur-built Aircraft defines the procedures that must be followed.
Appendix A Part I contains the following requirements:
- Inform the Minister of the intention to construct the aircraft.
- Identify himself or herself as the builder.
- Show that the aircraft design meets the requirements of this standard
- Confirm that the major portion of the aircraft will be constructed or assembled individually, as a unique project
- Have the aircraft inspected during construction so that enclosed areas that will not be accessible after final assembly can be inspected
- Have the aircraft inspected when it is fully assembled and equipped, but before the first flight, at the site of the planned test flight.
Letter of Intent
The first step before building is to file a letter of intent. A blank Letter of Intent form can be obtained from the MD-RA website.
On the letter of intent you fill in your personel information and the make, model and serial number for the aircraft. Next you indicate the construction materials by checking off the appropriate boxes.
If you are building your own design or building only from plans you check the appropriate box. If you are building a kit you need to indicate if the major portion of the aircraft (more than 50%) is fabricated from raw material and assembled by an individual or group of individuals. This is a requirement of the Airworthiness Manual Chapter 549 (549.5). Transport Canada maintains a link on their website which points to the FAA list of approved kits.
If your kit isn't listed the inspector will complete the 51% checklist that is available from the MD-RA website while at your shop. You must meet the major portion rule or your project cannot be registered as an amateur built aircraft.
If you have purchased the project from someone other than the original supplier of the kit or plans, you must provide a bill of sale or a release signed by the vendor giving the MD-RA permission to release information to the new purchaser. Make sure the make, model and serial number a clearly indicated.
Finally, fill in the payment information and mail or fax the letter of intent to the MD-RA Inspection Service:
- MD-RA Inspection Service
- 2469 Aviation Lane,
- London, ON N5V 3Z9
- phone: 519-457-2901 or 877-419-2111
- fax: 519-457-0908 or 877-800-6362
It may also be possible to email the a scan of the signed form to email@example.com but I would suggest calling them first.
You can now start work on your project.