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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tech Counselor Visit

Today I was lucky enough to have Joe, the local EAA Technical Counselor come by to look at my wings before I close up the bottom skins.  Overall I passed the examination, although he did point out a couple rivets I could "tighten" up a bit.  It's great to be able to have independent feedback along the way to ensure you are looking at things correctly.  In this case I pointed out all the areas that I was curious about and Joe indicated all looked good and there should be no problems.   Mostly though the conversation was around good techniques and he pointed out some of the pitfalls that I can avoid in my next steps.
In case you were interested in what a technical council visit is and why I had one, here is my attempt to explain.  The FAA does not officially require any inspections during the build phase of an Experimental Aircraft, only a final inspection is requried to be certified for flight.  This can be good and bad I think mainly depending on the builder. Some countries like Canada do require inspections at specified points along the way.  In the US, the EAA offers volunteer counselors that you can optionally contact throughout your build who can provide the same type of review.  Most builders do it since it is far better to catch problems early in the process than during the final FAA inspection.  Joe gave me an EAA technical council document that I will maintain with my records.  These documents can be used to show the FAA DAR that everything was looking good throughout the build.  It also shows proof of build stages and that you were conscientious along the way.

In my opinion, good milestones for these types of examinations are:

1) before you close the wings,
2) after you get linkages together on the fuselage,
3) after you have a significant amount of wiring behind the panel, and then of course
4) after the forward firewall is mostly complete just prior to the final FAA DAR inspection. 

Basically Joe said that anytime you feel you want to get a second opinion and have enough progress to justify a reveiw you can call your local counselor.  I am pretty sure I will be seeing Joe about once a year as I hit these milestones.  But for today we are complete and I am ready to move onto the next steps in my build.

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