Getting started

By G. Denis Browne, Chairman EAA Canadian Council



Home building your own aircraft is a growing
segment of Canadian aviation.
Photo courtesy Garth Wallace

The Amateur-Built Aircraft Category has been in Canada since the late 1950s. You can build your own aircraft, provided you construct, assemble or oversee the construction, by other persons, of at least 51% of the total number of items assembled during the project.

- Maximum gross weight for a fixed-wing aircraft is 5,000 pounds.

- Maximum number of seats is four (one pilot, three passengers).

- Maximum wing loading, no flaps, is 13.3 pounds per square foot.

- Maximum wing loading, with flaps, is 20.4 pounds per square foot.

- You can qualify an aircraft with a wing loading, with flaps, of more than 20.4 pounds per square foot, as an High-Performance Aircraft, in which case the pilot must be properly qualified to fly the aircraft with a High-Performance Rating (minimum 200 hours Pilot in Command time and a Type Check on the aircraft.)

- Logbook is required.

- An ELT is required.

- Privileges include day VFR, night VFR and IFR if properly equipped regarding instrumentation, pitot-static check, serviceability of equipment, logbook entries, pilot qualifications, etc.

- Necessary documentation for your Amateur-Built Aircraft includes a Certificate of Registration, Certificate of Airworthiness, Weight Report, Climb Test Report, etc.

- You can  perform your own maintenance on the amateur-built aircraft you have constructed.

- You may do your own maintenance on a second-hand amateur-built aircraft that you have purchased.

- There is provision in the regulations to construct twin-engined aircraft, gliders, powered gliders, helicopters, gyroplanes, gyrogliders, balloons and airships.

- Recent changes in the regulations allow you to contract for professional assistance in the construction or assembly of parts of the aircraft, provided the work is subject to the builder’s overall control.

- You are allowed to import, register and operate in Canada, foreign-built Amateur-Built Aircraft, subject to certain conditions, one of which is that the aircraft must be constructed in accordance with the standards of the State of construction and the Minister finds them to be equivalent to those in Canada. The aircraft must have a permanent flight authority from the State of construction and must have at least 100 hours air time logged. The aircraft must also undergo a complete inspection for compliance with the standards in Canada by a Civil Aviation Safety Inspector.



Your Amateur-Built Aircraft must be inspected at least twice, at well-defined stages, during construction. The MD-RA Inspection Services in London, Ont., has been delegated by Transport Canada to perform airworthiness inspections on Amateur-Built Aircraft. There is a fee for the inspections. When you decide to construct your own aircraft it is suggested that you read the information published by the MD-RA Inspection Services. Please follow the Instructions outlined to open your file and to receive complete details on the services provided. Details on the MD-RA Inspection Services can be found in the Handbook.


51% RULE

The 51% Rule, as it applies to Amateur-Built Aircraft, is based on the number of pieces built, not on the time to build. On occasion, Transport Canada will allow a damaged light certificated aircraft to be rebuilt and placed in the Amateur-Built Category If the amount of repair and rebuilding meets the 51% Rule and if the rebuilt aircraft will qualify as an Amateur-Built Aircraft. In this and all dealings with the Inspector (Transport Canada or MD-RA), be sure to get the requirements in writing with a signature in the logbook detailing what you have to do to meet the requirements. If the aircraft is lightly damaged there may not be enough repair or building needed to qualify the airframe in the Amateur-Built Category. The rebuilt aircraft will have to be de-registered and the original manufacturer’s data plate removed and sent to Transport Canada.



There are two ways to obtain aerobatic approval for your Amateur-Built Aircraft.

1. The Unlimited Aerobatic Authorization requires a structural evaluation and flight testing by a recognized organization that will make a subsequent recommendation to Transport Canada. Amateur- Built Aircraft that have been evaluated and tested are listed below. They are eligible for Unlimited Aerobatic Authorization, with pre-approved operating conditions listed in CAR 507 Appendix D.

- Pitts Special models S-1, S-1C, S-1D, S-2E.
- Steen Skybolt
- Cuby Aero Trainer
- Zenair CH150
- Christen Eagle II
- Acro Zenith CH180

2. A Simplified Aerobatic Procedure permits aerobatics in Amateur-Built Aircraft provided the manoeuvres have been demonstrated and documented in the aircraft logbook. The Simplified Aerobatic Procedure is valid for the specific Aeroplane evaluated and is not a “Type Evaluation” for all aircraft of this type as noted in No. 1 above.

A Flight Permit is required from Transport Canada to demonstrate the intended list of manoeuvres and the person flying the manoeuvres must be qualified to do so. Contact Transport Canada for complete details,



Amateur-Built Aircraft are treated the same as type certified for logging time and training. You can count 100 per cent of the time in Amateur-Built Aircraft towards the RPP, PPL, CPL, ATPL and Instructor.

If the aircraft is suitably equipped you can log instrument time and do instrument training. The same applies for a night rating.

If you have a multi-engined Amateur-Built Aircraft you can complete the requirements for the ATPL-A. Amateur-Built Aircraft cannot be used for hire or reward and therefore cannot be rented out.

If you are taking instruction on your own Amateur-Built Aircraft the instructor can charge for his/her time.

One difficulty with completing higher licences on your Amateur-Built Aircraft may be in completing the required flight tests. The Commercial Pilot Licence and Instructor flight tests both require the student to furnish an aeroplane certified for spins. This precludes using an Amateur-Built Aircraft for the spin portion of the tests as they are not certified for any manoeuvres. You could do the spin tests in a certificated aircraft and the rest in your Amateur-Built.

Much of this will depend on whether or not you can find an instructor who will fly in the Amateur-Built as there are instructors and DFTEs who might not agree to do this for personal reasons.

If the aircraft meets Canada’s ultralight definition (1,200 pounds gross weight and 45 mph stall speed) then the flying time can be counted toward a Pilot Permit - Ultralight.

For more information refer to the COPA Guide to Amateur-Built Aircraft (membership required)