Safety of amateur built vs. factory built planes

Posted at 6:31 PM, Apr 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-05 21:31:23-04

Tucked away at Brown Field are hangars full of experimental and home-built aircraft.

“Anything you build yourself is going to be experimental,” said Joe Russo.

Russo is the President of the Experimental Aircraft Association, Chapter 14. The club has more than 100 members.

A pilot since the early 2000s, Russo believes the planes he surrounds himself with are some of the safest out there.

“Most experimental are built to a higher standard,” he said. “Very few of us have a death wish.”

The planes can take months if not years to build. Some come in pre-made kits and others pieced together

"Everything you fly has to be inspected every year."

On Saturday, an aircraft crash-landed on the I-15. The plane skid and hit a car pulled off on the side of the highway, killing one person.

RELATED | Woman dies after plane crashes into car on I-15

A number of witnesses said they thought the plane appeared to be having possible engine problems.

Federal investigators hope to release a preliminary investigation of the deadly plane crash by the end of the week.

Team 10 didn't talk with Russo about that crash specifically, but did ask about the argument whether an experimental or homebuilt plane might not be as safe as commercially put together.

"If built right they are not more dangerous than a certified aircraft,” he said.

Russo said it's not necessarily cheaper either.

He said he does it partly for the excitement, “plus I know it was done right."

According to the FAA, the Experimental Category is - A special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category is issued to operate an aircraft that does not have a type certificate or does not conform to its type certificate and is in a condition for safe operation. Additionally, this certificate is issued to operate a primary category kit-built aircraft that was assembled without the supervision and quality control of the production certificate holder.

Click here to learn more about operating an Amateur-built, Kit-built, or Light-sport Aircraft.