Owner-maintenance Aircraft Category – Counterpoint

The following are concerns that an aircraft pilot/owner should consider before switching their airplane to the Owner-maintenance Aircraft Category.

1 - Safety

"The most dangerous thing in aviation is a pilot with a screwdriver."

The above quote comes from more than one aircraft maintenance engineer. Most aircraft pilot/owners are trained to fly, not to fix. The prospect of them doing their own airplane maintenance is scary.

It takes three years to educate an apprentice on the basics of aircraft inspection and repair. Amateur-built airplane owners have the benefit of the construction process, often much longer than three years, to learn how to work on their airplanes.

Owners of certified aircraft who are not trained in maintenance should continue to use the services of a professional mechanic to assist them. The O-M category allows this.

2 - One-way street

The Owner-maintenance category is designed to be a one-way street. Once an aircraft is converted to the category, it is prohibitively expensive to change it back to being certified. The aircraft engine, propeller and primary flight instruments have to be overhauled by an approved maintenance organization. The aircraft systems and equipment must be inspected for conformity to type design, and a maintenance release has to be signed by an appropriately rated engineer.

3 - Aircraft value

An airplane reclassified under the Owner-Maintenance category may be worth less than the same airplane maintained by an aircraft mechanic in the certified category. How much less, no one will know until the category has been launched for a while. The records from the first two years of operation of O-M airplanes under the Flight Permit exemption indicate that that O-M airplanes have not lost value due to conversion to the
O-M category. But, that said, aircraft that have prices driven up by demand in the US market may well see lower values in the non-exportable O-M category.

Pilot/owners who keep their aircraft for a long time might regain the lost resale value by operating and maintaining the aircraft more economically and incorporating improvements that would not be possible when certified.

4 - Only in Canada

The world is watching. Canada is the first country to launch the Owner-Maintenance category. This means that Owner-Maintained aircraft may not be flown in another country without prior written permission.

The O-M Aircraft Category is not recognized outside Canada. As per the amendment to CAR 509.01, an O-M airplane may not be sold to a pilot in another country for operation as an O-M airplane, thus, an Export Airworthiness Certificate will not be issued. To fly outside Canada, validation of the Special Certificate of Airworthiness will be required by the Foreign Aviation Authority. Currently the FAA has been issuing permission on a “one-off” basis for Canadian O-M aircraft to operate in the USA. It is hoped in the long run to achieve a blanket authorization status for O-M aircraft similar to that currently in place for Canadian amateur-builts and ultralights to fly in the USA. This will involve completing and carrying a form as permission to operate the aircraft in the USA. COPA is currently pursuing bringing this about, but it isn’t here yet.

5 - Flight training resistance

As with amateur-built aircraft, it would not be unreasonable for a flight training organization to refuse to conduct training in an Owner-Maintenance category aircraft.

Pilot/owners planning flight training for themselves or their family should check with their local flying school before switching their aircraft into the new non-certified Owner-Maintenance category.

6 - Recreational use only

No person shall operate an aircraft issued with a Flight Permit – Special Certificate of Airworthiness – Owner-maintenance in a commercial air service.

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