Menu Sign In Contact FAQ
Welcome to our forums

(UK) Process for testing small experimental aircraft made easier


It’s not clear to me what this means… it talks about testing. The finished thing will then presumably be taken over by the LAA and they will like it, or not like it – just like at present.

In what way is the above an improvement i.e. what is the current situation? I thought the LAA has some “flight testers” hanging around.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Why LAA? Before a design is certified, it’s experimental.

This looks as if it’s also intended for new designs intended to be certified, not just permit-to-fly types, so the LAA in many cases may never be involved.

Last Edited by alioth at 20 Nov 10:28
Andreas IOM

I concur. I believe the purpose of the initiative is to smooth the path from drawing board to certification.

Forever learning

As of about 2 weeks ago, I was proud owner of the first CAA “Competent Personal Registration Number” for overseeing flight testing under E-conditions. Right at the moment the only way to get a CPRN is to be a Chartered Engineer who is a Member or Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society; LAA and BMAA are supposed to be creating their own system for CPRN issue, but I’ve spoken to both Chief Engineers in the last month, and neither seem to have a clear plan or timescale for doing this. They will in time I’m sure, but who knows when?

The system is equally applicable to CofA or PtF aeroplanes.

In a nutshell it enables a suitably qualified person (that’ll be me, although hopefully somebody else also has the qualification by now) to authorise modification and flight testing of any aircraft with an MTOW not greater than 2000kg, for a set time and defined purpose.

What that purpose is doesn’t really matter -it could be for research, to test a completely new aeroplane, a piece of technology – and either simply to learn about it – or to prepare the set of reports you’d submit to an authority (CAA, LAA, BMAA…) to enable eventual approval.

This is, in my opinion – a really good thing. I’m a fan of the approach of restricting oversight to suitably competent people rather than just a free-for-all, and I’m even more a fan of making it possible to test new designs, equipment or modifications without having to waste time and money being overseen by an authority who have much higher prorities.

I forecast that there will be a small number of people like me consulting on such projects, along with companies such as P&M or Swift enjoying being able to bin their existing B-conditions procedures and work much more flexibly under a suitably qualified engineer in-house.

I also forecast that it won’t cause massive amounts of free-for-all test flying, because the small number of people competent and qualified to oversee E-conditions test flying will be much more cautious than that.


Boffin at large
Various, southern UK.

Does the de-regulation apply to ‘out-there’ designs like the e-volo or are they restricted to more conventional aircraft?

Anything under 2000kg basically.

Going to the regulations it says…

“E-conditions enables the flight testing of a UK registered experimental aircraft which is designed to be flown at a flight crew of at-least one pilot and has an MTOM of 2000kg or less, when overseen by a person considered as competent for the task”.

So yes, an e-Volo, so long as it had been registered in the UK, could be evaluated under E-conditions.


Last Edited by Genghis_the_Engineer at 10 Dec 08:47
Boffin at large
Various, southern UK.

Looks like a sensible positive step. There are some good changes taking place in the CAA. Let’s hope they continue

EGTK Oxford

That’s fantastic news… I wonder where else a person could test such unconventional aircraft. Presumably the next question is whether, assuming they can be shown to work, there is any way to certify them?

Depends to what extent upon what you mean by “certify”.

A major issue this will present is that anything large – a whole aeroplane or a new powerplant, for example, will have been built and tested without being subject to any kind of manufacturing quality control. Pretty much by definition it can’t have been inspected against an approved design standard, since that approval won’t yet exist.

So, once testing is done, you’d be submitting reports for design approval to the relevant design authority – LAA, BMAA, BGA or CAA. Once they’ve accepted those (and you shouldn’t discount the risk that any of these chaps will want some changes and additional testing of course – this is the real world, after all), it seems likely to me that any of them may require a new inspected build against their preferred quality standards, and against the design they’ve just approved, before final approval.

The CAA or EASA would maintain that “certified” only applies as a word to something that has a CofA on it, which is of course the toughest standard to meet and would most likely (although I’ve done it without, so it’s not an absolute) require an approved production organisation [part 21 POA if you’d like the jargon] to have overseen the work. So that would be the hardest to achieve – BMAA and LAA would be much easier; BGA would be somewhere in between.


Boffin at large
Various, southern UK.
11 Posts
Sign in to add your message

Back to Top