Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Friendliest aviation Ccmmunity on the web
  • Modern site for PC's, Phones, Tablets - no 3rd party apps required
  • Ask questions, help others, promote aviation
  • Share the passion for aviation
  • Invite everyone to Flightinfo.com and let's have fun

Experimental/homebuilt definitions

Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Modern secure site, no 3rd party apps required
  • Invite your friends
  • Share the passion of aviation
  • Friendliest aviation community on the web


just a member, not senior
Nov 26, 2001
I have a few questions about experimental/homebuilt planes. First off, I am ignorant in this class of aircraft. Second, the only experience I have is a friend that crashed in a long ez.

Are all homebuilts experimental? I see kits taking off everyday from my office that don't have the "experimental" label near the cockpit.

Why do some planes are the "experimental" label near the cockpit? Is this a politically correct way of saying "WARNING, THIS AIRCRAFT ISN'T CERTIFIED"?

And last, why do post war jets that enter the civilian arena labled experimental? They were certifed for military flight in their day, so why does the certification of the aircraft change? Is it because the pilots are civilian so the pilots are experimenting without the proper training (seems a LOA isn't that difficult to get if you have cash).
All experimental category aircraft have to display this placard, expect if they only carry one person. See AC 20-27D


I believe that you have to have a placard that states the aircraft's category is "experimental", but it doesn't have to be written in big letters in the cockpit unless the builder chooses. It may be on a small placard. Experimental aircraft are certified to some degree, they are inspected by the FAA and issued airworthiness certificates. They also have to undergo the same inspections a normal category aircraft would have.

91.319 gives the operating limitations for experimental aircraft. Basically, once the flight testing phase is over experimental aircraft can be operated the same as normal category aircraft, expect they cannot be operated for hire. However, some types are allowed to be used for flight training, with special authorization.
Last edited:
Yes, all bhomebuilts are experimental unless it was "homebuilt" from approved parts, under the supervision of a qualified maintenance person, to the specifications of an existing type certificate (A PA-18, for example), and is given a "type conformity" inspection by the feds. But, then you really haven't built a home built, you've assembled a PA-18 super cub from parts. Other than that process, you have certify your plane in the experimental category. The "experimental" label is in effect saying "warning, this airplane is not government approved" It is required on all experimental aircraft. Some home builders may place the experimental label in a less visible place, or others may not have it at all....but it is required by law to be there.

The military doesn't need certification of any kind. Unless there is a civilian version of the same airplane (eg C-130/L-382, or OH58/Bell206)a military aircraft probably doesn't have a type certificate. Military surplus aircraft may be certified in the experimental category which carries a lot of restrictions. The alternative would be to go through the certification process, which costs millions of dollars, and may not be possible, as the nilitary aircraft probably doesn't conform to the applicable airworthiness regulations.

good info...thanks for the response
Per AC 20-27D, amateur-built aircraft must have displayed near each entrance the word "experimental" in 2 to 6" letters. The key word is *near*. Many times this placard can be concealed with the canopy frame, but still be visible when entering or exiting the plane.

The special authorization allowing instruction for hire in experimentals was arranged in the last couple of years between the FAA, EAA and NAFI. If you have an experimental, you're a CFI and the aircraft conforms to required inspections (100 hr insp), meet some basic requirements/agreements with NAFI & EAA, you can offer "transition training" for hire.
I have seen both ways of doing it, most times I see the little placards, thats mostly of RVs and warbirds, and other common planes. There are those that have heavily modfied and are quite proud of the expiermental status of their planes (Turbine Glassairs, Pitts Challenger, etc), its all in the taste of the owner. But most that I have been in have the small Passenger Placard, but thats hard to notice, so sometimes its overlooked as another one of the safety placards.

*Note this is not a regulatory post, just my impression of the diffrent ways that people, follow the expiermental, notification rules. Don't ever take anything I say as the law unless it is written in a ten page lengthy paper, otherwise there is a chance that I maybe wrong. Also if you are reading this wow you got alot of paitence too bad after the first couple of lines I just started to joke around.*
ShawnC and others interested -

I hate to beat on this one again, but to be clear, you have to post both placards. "EXPERIMENTAL" 2-6" letters near the entrance *and* "PASSENGER WARNING - THIS AIRCRAFT...", ~ 1/4" letters within view of the passenger(s) when seated in the plane.

As for the "PASSENGER WARNING - ...", statement. A lot of people customize this by adding the following to the end; "IT EXCEEDS THEM!"
The best addition I've seen to the "This airplane does not meet ..." was

"But neither was Noah's Ark"


Latest resources