Any aircraft that hasn’t been FULLY proven in flight is considered an experimental aircraft. This often means that a new aerospace technology is being tested although not always. The term “experimental aircraft” can also refer to an aircraft that flies on an experimental certificate.
People often use the term “experimental aircraft” to refer to homebuilt planes. However, although homebuilt planes are classified under experimental aircraft, there are many other aircraft with the designation of experimental aircraft that are not built at home.
Compared to other countries, the US and Australia both have very flexible rules when it comes to experimental aircraft.
Experimental Aircraft and the FAA
All aircraft in the US is required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to get an “Airworthiness Certificate”. The bigger aircraft manufacturers will undergo extensive periods of testing to prove their airworthiness.
Manufacturers that pass these rigorous tests are given a “Type Certificate”. All aircraft that manufactured using this design will be given a Standard Airworthiness Certificate.
All other aircraft that do not or can not meet these standards can still apply for a Special Airworthiness Certificate in which Experimental Certificates are included.
There are 8 purposes of experimental aircraft according to the FAA rules. These are:
Research and Development
Showing Compliance with Regulations
Operating Amateur Aircraft (Homebuilt)
Operating Kit-built Aircraft
For more information about experimental aircraft, please click here.
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