Homebuilt aircraft building options
Brief descriptions of the various levels of building projects.
A popular choice for those wishing to spend more time flying than building. Kitset aircraft come with a number of components ready made, requiring (in theory) little more than assembly. Kitsets are available for wooden, metal or composite aircraft construction.
The quality of kitsets and support does vary between manufacturers, with some far more comprehensive in terms of what comes ready built. Because you are paying for the convenience of work already done, prices for kitsets can be quite high. Materials-only kits are another option, with all the materials provided cut roughly to size and virtually nothing pre-made.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules require that the builder do at least 51% of the construction, so ensure that you buy a 51% kit.
Plans built aircraft
The more ambitious builder can purchase plans for a huge variety of aircraft. The builder is required to purchase their own materials and construct all the components as per the plans. While time is the biggest element required in this category (3-20yrs is normal), it is a less expensive and often extremely rewarding method.
As with kits, the quality of plans does vary, with ongoing support from the plans provider a useful option to look for. You may be able to obtain updates as parts of the design are improved.
Own design aircraft
Microlight and Experimental category rules do have provision for builders to design their own aircraft. For this option we strongly recommend prior experience in building an aircraft or in the aircraft engineering field. Knowledge of the various stresses involved is important, and build quality and the application of standard aviation practice essential.
CAA will normally require a wing load test and an undercarriage drop test to prove structural strength is adequate.
Microlight – factory built
An ideal choice for those keen to get flying rather than spend time building. A growing industry worldwide, Microlights have gained in popularity since being categorised as "Light Sport Aircraft" in the USA.
Microlights can be very sophisticated aircraft; many now have retractable undercarriages and can cruise faster than Cessnas and some other traditional factory built aircraft.