Ever since I can remember, building an airplane in Australia has been fraught with complexities and red tape. Frustrated after 35 years of trying to find a way to comply with all this on a meagre budget I lashed out at CASA on 29 March in a scathing critique of the proposed Part 103 which is supposed to replace this minefield, but which has sat languishing in someone's inbox for over five years. In short, I had reached the end of my tether.
Today I visited the Recreational Aviation Australia website to discover that on 6 April the current Civil Aviation Order 95.55 had been reissued to clarify points that have made no sense since its first issue in June 2006, due to the fact that paragraph 1.1 was entirely missing. From my point of view and needs, the gist of the changes and clarifications can be summed up as something like this:
1. The type of aircraft allowed under 95.55 has been clearly defined as a single engine, single propeller aircraft of 600kg MTOW (or 650kg for sea planes).
2. The Vso of that aircraft has been clearly set at 45 knots maximum.
3. Aircraft may be constructed solely for educational or recreational purposes. There is a clear distinction between an "Amateur Built" airplane (subject to the old ANO 101.28 and requiring major supervision and costs to build) and a recreational aircraft (subject merely to a pre-closure inspection and pre-flight weight and balance).
4. Aircraft built under CAO 95.55 do not require a Private Pilot's License, instead they can be flown with a pilot's certificate issued by the RA-Aus subject to conditions, mainly restricting flight to Class E & G airspaces.
5. Generally RA-Aus training must be done in a commercially built aircraft, but aircraft constructed under 95.55 can be used to train the builder(s) of that aircraft. Even if it's a single seater.
There's much more to the CAO than this, but these were the points relevant to the issue of building and flying my own Quickie, which is what I was complaining about in my email. I'd like to think there was a direct correlation, but I'll just say that I'm extremely pleased that I can finally see a clean, legal path to furthering my flying in an airplane of my own construction, which is a much better place to spend money than on $230.00/hr flying lessons. And it will be in the plane of my own choosing, not some 60 knot low tech slug with less than 6lb/sq ft of wing loading and a monster gas guzzling two-stroke bolted on the front of it.
I started my flying lessons in Piper Warriors and Archers, and frankly landing anything with a dacron wing and no walls scares the crap out of me.
PA-28-161 Warrior II ... in fact this is one I've flown.