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AndyWAUS 01-13-2021 10:36 AM

What does FAA require you to do early on?
I'm in the middle of the RV-10 empennage kit. I noticed many people here keep detailed build logs and many also registered an N-number. I have done none of these things. My only build log is the date I write down on every page of the Vans plans when I complete the page. Should I be worried and change my ways? I thought I would worry about FAA closer to the end of the project. Is there a cheat sheet for new builders explaining what is the minimum required paperwork a builder should produce?

Thank you!

SeanB 01-13-2021 10:59 AM

There is a fairly good answer to your question on the EAA site:

Also, the EAA has a pretty good "free" builder's log available for use on their site. Very easy to use. Here's a link to mine if you wish to take a look:

I'm still moving information away from another site, so not a ton to see yet, but you get the idea.

AlpineYoda 01-13-2021 11:02 AM

The only thing you really need to do at this stage is document what you are doing to make it clear you are doing the work. Take photos and keep them in a file, keep a notebook or diary, keep a blog. Do something that serves two very important purposes...

1 - it shows the FAA that you did the work and this was amateur built.
2 - photos serve as a reminder to you of what you did, when, and why. When it comes time to inspect, update, or fix something, that reference can be helpful.

I use the EAA blog because it is free and easy to use. It works nicely for photos and for notes to myself of what I did and what I need to do.

As far as tail numbers are concerned, there is no need to do it until you are ready to fly. Lots of people, including me, simply get excited about what they will call this huge pile of parts when it is completed and start reserving numbers when they think of a good one that is available.

wirejock 01-13-2021 11:13 AM

Builder log
My opinion, but if I were buying an experimental, a builder log would get almost as close an examination as the airplane. A well documented log should help resale value. However, I'm very OCD. :D My blog is below.
Not required, but I also recommend at least three EAA Tech Counselor visits. Preferably by different TCs. One before closing the first empennage component. One before closing wings and tanks. One at canoe stage. One before DAR inspection.

bhester 01-13-2021 01:03 PM

Build log
I believe what your doing is good, I would just add to the date the time spent of the task. That is what I did when I built my RV7A. It is good to show how long you spent doing the work. No need to rewrite the task. It is just to show the FAA what you did, so that you can receive your Repairman Cert.. Do take pictures with you in them as you are working on things. It is proof that you did the work.

BobTurner 01-13-2021 01:06 PM

I kept a log, wrote on the plans, and took photos. When the DAR came out I had brought a computer to the hangar with the photos. The DAR just looked at the photos (try to get some with you in the picture). As mentioned above, you can reserve an N number cheaply ($5 or $10 per year) if you see one you like. I recommend not registering until a few months before final inspection - in some states that may trigger property taxes earlier than need be.

AndyWAUS 01-13-2021 03:53 PM

Thank you folks! Let me clarify the question a little bit. I know many people enjoy blogging and vlogging every detail of their build. I'm not one of them. There are many people much more qualified than I am to educate the world about building planes, and I'm not looking to join this cohort. So really I'd like to keep logging to a minimum - the less meta-work I do the more time I have for doing actual work. I went through FAA and EAA (thank you Sean) and found that requirements are very loosely defined. It's good to know that "time spent building" is not mandatory - I purposely avoid tracking hours. But also the EAA interpretation is outdated and IMHO misleading.

On the page about builders log, the EAA says "FAA guidance (FAA Order 8130.2F, Chg. 4) recommends that pictures be included in your builder records. Lots of pictures are a plus, especially pictures showing you actually working on the project."

In fact, FAA order 8130.2F has been superseded long time ago, and the current version is 8130.2J, but also the FAA order mentions no such thing about photos. The only place the word "photo" appears in a relevant context in the order says "Examples of documentation include ... A comprehensive builder’s log that includes items such as drawings, engineering specifications, plans, references, handbooks, kit manufacturer’s data, photographs, video, documentation of commercial assistance, yada-yada". So per FAA, photographs are listed next to video and kit manufacturer's data, and emphasizing photos is just EAA's creative interpretation of the letter.

I understand that people are talking from their positive experience obtaining airworthiness and repairman certificates, and I appreciate that. Keeping an extensive log with photos or videos of myself building would be on a safe side and will satisfy FAA. But given that I've already build a chunk of the empennage with no logs, I need to find out what is the bare minimum the FAA needs. My understanding is they don't need the "Amateur-Built Fabrication and Assembly Checklist" because Van's RV-10 is listed in their list of kits which satisfy the 50%+ rule, but please let me know if anyone has experience FAA asking for the checklist. I have also sent emails to my FSDO and MIDO with a question regarding how verbose the builder's log needs to be. I will write back to this thread if/when the FAA responds.

RV7A Flyer 01-13-2021 04:37 PM

Just copy the builder's manual, and date(/initial if you want) when each item is completed on the copy. Take some photos every now and then, include yourself in a few.

'Tain't that hard.

BTW, the empennage is very small fraction of the build. If you have few or no or shabby records from that, I doubt it would even be noticed by a DAR. Just fix your process problem, and build on. (Or try to recreate some of them by noting approximate dates tasks were completed in your copy of the builder's manual, per above).

RV10Pilot 01-13-2021 05:02 PM

You can reserve a N number at anytime. It will cost you a few dollars every year to retain the number. But it is not necessary, and you can start the registration process ~6 months before your airworthiness inspection.

BobTurner 01-13-2021 05:11 PM

Your logbook is more for you than the FAA. You’d be surprised at how much you forget. e.g., did I spray zinc chromate under there, or something else, or nothing? And most important: if you decide to skip a step, for whatever reason, write that down and circle it in red, so you don’t forget to come back to it.

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