The FAA site states that the FAA will not inspect your Amateur Built aircraft until it is registered and registration is recommended 60-120 days prior to your anticipated finish date.
How does the FAA determine that you are the builder and that you have met the majority build requirements?

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The FAA inspector or DAR will want to see proof that the plane was built by amateur(s). This is most often accomplished by presenting a builders log or equivalent. As to if the plane kit complies with the 51% rule, most kit manufacturers have obtained a letter from the FAA that certifies that the kit is less than 51% complete from the factory. I believe all the Zeniths are covered, but you can check with Zenith or the FAA. You yourself, need not be the builder of 51% (such as purchasing a partial build), but only 1 of the builders may be designated on the inspection.

Thanks for responding!  I am waiting on the starter kit to arrive and I've started a log to track the build and costs. 

You don’t need to prove you built the aircraft to obtain your registration.  All you need is five dollars and all the completed application paperwork. Do start on that early, there’s several pieces of paper involved.  The registration process is separate from the airworthiness certification process.  It’s the airworthiness inspection by a DAR or an FAA inspector where the determination will be made by the DAR or FAA inspector that you met the “51% rule”. DARs and FAA inspectors will require your registration be in hand, the “N Number” installed on the finished aircraft, and if you built the aircraft, your name on the fire resistant data plate riveted to the aircraft (exactly matching the name on the registration) before they will even show up to meet you and your flying machine and go through the airworthiness certification inspection process. Plenty of good information available at the EAA website to guide you along. Good luck!

That's a lot of good, practical information!  Thanks for taking the time to post. 

Regarding proving you built it, there is an FAA form, 8130-12 that you have to sign and have notarized claiming you are the builder (and list other builders if you have partners) and that you comply with 14 CFR Part 21, and 21.191(g).  There is also a work sheet that helps you evaluate what percentage you built to verify you meet the 51% rule.

The builder log is recommended and I put a lot of time and worry into mine, working till midnight the night before to add captions and make it look nice... and then the DAR never even looked at it.  Talked to a guy last weekend who said the same thing.  Noterized form was all they looked at.

First off, a small correction to one post above.  The data plate must be fireproof, not fire resistant.

As to the original question, the reason that registration comes first is that all forms must match the information on the registration.  No certification paperwork can be started until the registration is completed.

FAA Form 8130-12 is required, but it alone does not meet amateur-built proof.  Often an inspector will not spend much time looking at the builder's log because after we talk with you for a few minutes, we can tell if you built the aircraft.

Thanks for the clarification Mel, so you are a DAR or FAA Inspector? A valuable resource here on the forum.


Been a DAR since 1999.  I have done almost 1,000 certification inspections on Light-Sport and Experimental Aircraft.

Thanks Mel.  Always good to hear from an "insider".  Best regards!

Often an inspector will not spend much time looking at the builder's log because after we talk with you for a few minutes, we can tell if you built the aircraft.

That was my impression when the DAR inspected my build - a few questions about some of the details of the build and I felt he knew I was the builder - he barely glanced at my builder's log!  Also, when I went to the Nashville FSDO for the Repairman's Certificate (see my blog "A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the FSDO!") , the person processing my paperwork looked at about 2 pages of my log for about 2 seconds and gave it back to me.

Apparently,  you really don't need an elaborate log as far as the FAA is concerned!  ;>)



Thanks for sharing your experience John.  I will also be obtaining the the Repairman's Certificate and this will be good information to have when that time comes.

Regarding the Repairman Certificate, my experience was a bit different than I had been led to expect from all the EAA literature and things I had read. It was my understanding that for the repairman certificate, all you needed to was make an appointment to appear in person at the FSDO with the paperwork in order to obtain the certificate (no aircraft inspection or applicant testing). In my case, the Little Rock FSDO insisted on sending 2 inspectors to Nortwest Arkansas to physically inspect my already flying airplane. In addition, I was given a list of maintenance tasks to be prepared to perform. I could find no justification for these requirements in the regs. The inspectors cited "satisfy the administrator" verbiage as justification for this process. At this point I was concerned that I was getting special attention for some reason, but they insisted that was standard procedure. In any case, the appointment was made and kept. After reviewing my paperwork and talking for a while in the airport terminal, they said I had gone far beyond what they needed to see in terms of documentation (especially the detailed build log) and satisfying them that I could safely service the plane. The aircraft "inspection" consisted of a couple of walk-arounds with me answering questions or pointing out things we had talked about earlier. I left with my temporary repairman certificate and they headed back to Little Rock. I honestly got the feeling that they just wanted to get out of the office and see an experimental that they were not familiar with (750 Cruzer), and stretched the regs to make it happen.

My points are, First, although all FSDO inspectors are supposedly doing things alike, reality may be different, so good builder documentation is essential, or at least improves the process. Second, establish contact and a relationship with the FSDO inspector early in the build, even if a DAR will do the special airworthiness inspection. I contacted the FSDO when I was ready for the repairman certificate, and they cited not having previously established a relationship as reason for going beyond the black letter of the regs.


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