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Tell us about your experience with your local DAR, we don't have to have names, but it might be nice if you have a knowledgeable supportive one that understands what EAB means (Experimental Amateur Built). Please share, I still don't have a clear answer, and I talked to 2 of them, at the expense of the gas in mileage.
What did it take to get your Airworthiness?
I had a perfect local DAR. He is a member of the same EAA chapter I belong to. He was my EAA advisor, and had previously built several planes. He retired from the DAR job recently. Since he was my advisor, I had corrected a few minor problems prior to my actual inspection (he did several inspections as my advisor), and I basically knew my inspection would be OK since everything had actually been inspected before hand. He also completed all paper work that had to be filed. All I had to do was sign my name on the documents. During my build he was also a great source for kit building information.
I would recommend an EAA Advisor, even if he isn't a DAR.
I used Gary Meuer from Tullahoma, TN. He was extremely knowledgeable about EAB's and advised me that he wanted to do all the paperwork "so it'll go through first pass with the FAA!" Like Jim, all I had to do was sign! It was helpful that he was familiar with Zenth STOL's - he wanted to move up the inspection to a week earlier and I told him my slats were still in the paint shop. He replied, "No problem, we'll certify without slats!" (I've actually heard of DAR's or FAA inspectors telling STOL builders "It was dangerous to fly without the slats!" Ha!) He told me I could install them later during Phase I, do a W&B for slats, and get at least 5 hrs on them. That way, in the future, I could install or remove the slats as desired and refer to the appropriate W&B and not have to put the plane back into Phase I again! The actual inspection went smoothly and he found no problems. I had one buddy that was an A&P and another that was an A&P IA - both did occasional inspections during the build.
I thought my DAR was great, he's the "recommended" DAR for the San Diego EAA chapter and has built a plane (a Breezy, scary looking thing lol) so knows all sides of the equation.
We did all the paperwork up front, sent him pictures of lots of things - he spotted a mistake in my data plate which saved me an extra visit and fee. He came in August when it was already 90+ at 7 in the morning and a 1000% humidity, did a very thorough examination I thought (more than I was expecting), found a few things that I had missed and even helped with a couple of safety wires. Unlike what I've read from other experiences, he did have me start the engine and took pictures of the panel etc while it was running.
Gave me some tips for the condition inspection, wrote me my slip and was gone in about two hours. I would recommend.
Since we are naming names, mine was Matthew Hlavac out of San Diego, I would recommend.
Excellent and thanks! I will plan to use Gary as well.
Thanks everyone. This is great info for our fellow builders for sure. Keep it coming!
I used Brian Carpenter, owner (with his wife Carol) of Rainbow Aviation Services in Corning, CA. Brian and Carol regularly write articles for EAA Sport Aviation, and are both very knowledgeable (Brian is also an A&P with inspection authorization). They were great to work with.
I just called the nearest FSDO and got on the waiting list, a month later two FAA inspectors showed up and went over my plane with a fine tooth comb. I had all the paperwork ready with everything laid out on the bench. I used the EAA experimental paper work kit and followed it to the letter. The guys from the FAA were great and really enjoyed inspecting my aircraft, they even commented that they don’t get called often to do experimental inspections. Cost was zero, can’t beat that. I figured after 10 years of building I could wait a month for the inspection. Oh, and all they asked me to do was add two ty-raps. Overall it was a great experience.
We have a FSDO here that refuses to do the inspections. So we HAVE to use a DAR. Guess they just can't put down the coffee cup long enough to come inspect a plane and fill out papers.
That's too bad. In the Cincinnati area we have a very supportive FSDO staff. Not only do they promptly come out to inspect amateur built aircraft, they regularly accept invitations from our EAA chapters to talk to us at chapter meetings.
My DAR was from the SF Bay area and admitted knowing little about experimental aircraft. Apparently he had spent a career setting standards or inspecting large commercial aircraft.
The DAR was not from Oakland FSDO. I asked but they said I would be waiting for a very long time if they wanted someone from there to do an inspection. They didn't even have a waiting list.
The DAR literally spent no more than 10 minutes looking at my plane - and came up with one comment (label on canopy latch). He did spend some time looking at my documentation but asked few questions. He repeated more than once that " I was responsible fro the airworthiness of the aircraft."
Less than an hour after arriving I had my AWC - and he walked away with $800 of my CASH.
I didn't know whether to feel happy I got my cert. with no problems, or pissed I just payed someone $800 for one hour to sign a few pieces of paper.
In fairness, he did have an 1-1/2 hour drive to get to me...