Reading through Rex Taylors "Dragonflyer" newsletter #17, we noted an excellent article covering homebuilder responsibility. We would like to reiterate on this because we believe that you the homebuilder should be aware of what you are taking on when you build your own aircraft. The FAA has set up the Experimental Amateur built category (thanks mainly to EAA) to allow an individual to design, build and fly his own aircraft. The FAA lists that individual as the manufacturer. As the manufacturer, the builder is entirely and totally responsible for that aircraft. The builder has passed judgement on the quality of workmanship and he alone has made the decision that each and every part that he has put into that aircraft, is in his opinion, airworthy.
A lot of builders are under the mistaken impression that the FAA inspector will guarantee that the aircraft is airworthy when he inspects the aircraft and issues an airworthiness certificate. The FAA does not decide your aircraft is airworthy, you do. For this reason, every builder should become involved with the EAA. Join your local EAA chapter. Attend their monthly meetings, talk with other EZ builders. Many good books are available from EAA. Supplement your plans with a few, such as Tony Bingalis "Firewall Forward". After you have got something built, get as many people as you can, to look over your work. Dont be embarrassed. If someone critiques your work, take a strong look at it. If it is not right, throw it out.
Your best assurance of success is to adhere strictly to the plans and to build it from the correct materials. In order to be positive that you are using the correct materials, buy them only from the recommended suppliers. The same philosophy is also true for engines. Almost daily we receive calls or letters from builders wanting to substitute some wizz-bang engine for the recommended one. RAF can not ethically recommend an engine we have not installed and tested. For the Long-EZ we recommend any model of the Lycoming 0-235. If you wish to install some other engine, please do not call us. We can not help you. As an experimenter, you can of course, use any engine you want to. You should be aware that you will be involved in redesigning engine mount structure, cooling may not be adequate and you will be testing an unknown when you fly your airplane. You should expect surprises. If you want a reliable cross-country airplane, do yourself a favor and buy a real aircraft engine such as a Continental or Lycoming.
These engines have literally millions of hours of field testing on them and have a proven record of reliability. You the builder have the sole responsibility to produce a safe, reliable aircraft. Take that responsibility seriously. The bottom line is this: The designer has absolutely no control over what materials, power plants, etc go into your aircraft. No control of quality of workmanship and no opportunity to inspect work or materials and therefore cannot be responsible for your actions. Most designers will do everything in their power to ensure your success with one of their designs, since problems are just plain bad for business. The best advertisement for the designer is an airplane that does what the designer said it would and a builder/pilot who is happy with what he builds.