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Are Kit Built Planes Dangerous?

by John M. White |

The recent accident involving a kit built Lancair high performance aircraft which killed a jogger running along a beach has prompted some interest in the accident rates for home or kit built aircraft. Some 1,870 Lancair plane kits have been sold to pilots in 34 different countries in both turbine and piston powered versions. These high performance aircraft can fly at high altitude and speeds up to 370mph, making them extremely popular amongst the kit built community. Recently the Federal Aviation Administration issued a bulletin which said, in part, that since the planes are built by amateurs each one "may have unique flight handling characteristics."
On the other hand, the owner of Lancair International, Inc, said that if the aircraft are built and flown according to the aircraft operators manual and in compliance with the FAA regulations they should be very safe. Lancair Kit Built Aircraft Federal officials said on March 25th that homemade airplanes like the Lancair are prone to stall when flown at very low airspeeds. The FAA issued a safety advisory to pilots flying aircraft that are homemade to be aware of the fact that these aircraft are prone to stall when operating at slow airspeed close to the ground. During 2008 there were 82 people killed in accidents involved with aircraft built from kits, significantly higher than in manufactured aircraft accidents. While kit-built aircraft account for less than 5% of total flight time for general aviation aircraft, they are involved in 18% of accidents each year, nearly 7 times higher than commercially manufactured aircraft. The FAA recommended that Lancair owners have their aircraft inspected by a licensed mechanic to make sure it is properly rigged, that the wings are aligned properly and that the weight and balance date is correct. In addition, the FAA urged additional stall training and recover techniques for these pilots. If you have built and fly a Lancair we would love to hear from you. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 It's better to miss the lead story at 6 . . . than to become the lead story at 11. — Bruce Erion, President of the National Broadcast Pilots Assn., 1999.

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