Not everyone has the inclination, ability or time available to build an aircraft. The only route then is to buy a part-built aircraft for completion, a ready-flying aircraft or an aircraft in need of restoration. For part-built LAA projects, the new owner/builder needs to continue following the LAA amateur-build process. For already-flying LAA aircraft, the new owner simply takes on the responsibilities of the old owner for looking after the airworthiness of the aircraft. The restoration of an aircraft might range from dusting off the cobwebs and giving the engine a good service, to a full strip down to component parts and fabricate missing or damaged parts.
It is also possible, in some circumstances, to import a part-built or completed aircraft from overseas. This is generally only possible where the type is already accepted by the LAA, the aircraft can be shown to have been amateur-built under a similar regime to that in the UK, and which is readily inspectable to confirm the build standard.
A number of LAA types come under the heading ‘orphaned vintage types’. These are types that are no longer supported by their manufacturer and have been deemed ‘orphaned’ by the CAA (e.g. Austers). There are also some types that can elect to operate either on a Certificate of Airworthiness or on an LAA administered Permit to Fly (e.g. Chipmunks).
When buying an aircraft, the overriding message is ‘Buyer Beware!’ If you’re buying an aircraft that is already flying within the LAA system, you mainly need to satisfy yourself that it’s in an acceptable condition and meets your needs. LAA inspectors are often happy to look over an aircraft for you to help you make a technical assessment of its condition. Another area you should consider is whether it has enough payload to take you where you want to go.
When buying a partially-built aircraft or one from overseas, you need to make sure that the aircraft is eligible to hold a UK Permit to Fly and is in a configuration that the LAA can accept. It is usually a good idea to drop LAA Engineering an email to check before you part with large amounts of money.
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