Resulting from a multiyear sustained advocacy effort by EAA, this week the FAA published its guidelines for an optional task-based Phase I flight testing program. The program will primarily be an alternative to the standard 25 or 40-hour flight testing requirement for amateur-built aircraft, replacing the hours-based test period with a list of tasks to complete. When the tasks are complete and the aircraft is shown to operate as expected, and an Aircraft Operating Handbook (AOH) is created, the aircraft can exit the Phase I flight testing period.
The new guidance is housed in the recently updated Advisory Circular (AC) 90-89C, the Amateur-Built Aircraft and Ultralight Flight Testing Handbook. This is a wide-ranging document that the FAA first developed in partnership with EAA in 1989. The task-based program itself is found in Chapter 2 of the AC, beginning on pages 2-3.
The program prescribes a series of 17 individual flight test tasks, and recommends that the tests be flown per test cards carried in the aircraft. The program also requires the creation of an Aircraft Operating Handbook (AOH)* from the test results, which will benefit both the builder and any subsequent owners of the aircraft. Anyone, including kit manufacturers and type clubs, can create a test plan that accomplishes the prescribed tasks, and users of EAA’s Flight Test Manual will find that it mirrors the program requirements.