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FAA Amateur-Built Rulemaking Committee

You may have heard about some Amateur-Built Aircraft Rulemaking changes that have been considered by the FAA here in the United States.

Sonex Aircraft, LLC has been serving on the FAA's Amateur-Built Rulemaking Committee (ARC) since August of 2006. We attended 4 of the ARC meetings over the past year and a half. These meetings involved a number of representatives from the FAA, fellow aircraft kit manufacturers, commercial assistance owners, and aircraft associations. These meetings were very well organized and stayed on task. As a direct result of this Committee's work, there were two federal register notices published this morning (February 15, 2008). One is the ARC final report and the other is a (temporary) moratorium on addition of aircraft to the FAA 51% kit listing.

Sonex Aircraft, LLC anticipates that you will be hearing many rumors and opinions on the ARC's efforts and the proposed changes to the various rules that govern Experimental Amateur-Built Aircraft over the next several months. Our intent with this letter is to provide as many facts to our customers, potential customers, friends, and fellow manufacturers as we can.

We want to state with absolute certainty that all Sonex, Waiex, and Xenos Aircraft Kits will remain safely in the 51% Experimental Amateur-Built Kit category for builders using all available components from Sonex Aircraft, LLC.

As the newly released materials from the FAA state, there is clearly concern from the FAA with regard to how some of the existing Experimental-Amateur Built Rules are being pushed beyond their original spirit and intent by a select few. The most glaring examples are individuals and companies who are building aircraft for other individuals. These "professional builders" are providing aircraft manufacturing to the flying public at a fraction of the cost of type certified aircraft. From the FAA's perspective, these same individuals and companies have been supplying these aircraft without the production controls and paper trails provided by the existing type certification and ASTM Light, Sport Aircraft standards which are intended to control the quality and ensure the safety of professionally manufactured aircraft. Without necessarily intending it, these professional builders and companies building and selling completed and/or mostly completed aircraft are risking the entire set of Experimental Amateur-Built Rules by continuing to push them beyond their intended boundaries.

Sonex Aircraft's comments during the ARC meeting process can be summarized by a few points:

* The key to the continued success of the Experimental-Amateur Built rules depends on the consistent enforcement of the rules already in place. The resources required to carry out this enforcement have not been made available by the FAA over the last few years. Without these resources, enforcement loosens and the rules are pushed beyond their spirit and intent, compromising the rules' continued existence.

* Sonex Aircraft, LLC is an example of an aircraft kit company that is successfully operating (and will continue to operate) within the spirit and intent of these rules. We believe that the rules provide for tremendous cost savings to any aviator who is willing to build and fly their own aircraft for education and recreation.

* Sonex Aircraft, LLC has focused many resources on education with our highly successful series of Builder's Workshops and leads the industry by providing as much detailed documentation as possible to builders. Our focus on complete documentation allows builders to rely on themselves to build their own aircraft using proven and reliable practices.

We would like to reiterate that all of the proposed rule changes and increased enforcement of the existing rules are almost entirely irrelevant to Sonex builders. Sonex Aircraft, LLC supplies aircraft kits that maximize the value of component parts per dollar spent while requiring the builder to fabricate and construct the majority of the project in accordance with Experimental-Amateur Built aircraft rules. Builders who choose to utilize extensive professional builder assistance will face an increasing amount of obstacles when they go to register their aircraft and seek to obtain their Airworthiness Certificate.

Sonex Aircraft, LLC was proud to participate in the ARC meetings and remains committed to doing whatever we can to preserve the spirit and intent of the Experimental Amateur-Built Aircraft Rules. The ARC co-chairs, EAA's Vice President of Industry and Regulatory Affairs Earl Lawrence and Dick VanGrunsven of Van's Aircraft have provided strong leadership along with deliberate and honest feedback to the FAA during the entire ARC process. They also have done a great job representing the best interests of the industry and homebuilt aircraft builders and pilots. The FAA has shown a willingness throughout this process to not just listen to industry feedback, but to use it in addressing the real and perceived problems with the current rules.

The priority of Sonex Aircraft, LLC is to preserve the privileges we all enjoy as homebuilt aircraft builders for future generations of builders and pilots. We promise to stay engaged in this process and share any information with the community that may require action now and in the future.

Press release issued by Sonex Aircraft, LLC on February 15, 2008


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