THE PROJECT CONTROL PROCESS
Aircraft that come under the ILAS flight permit system can be maintained by their owners as long as they log the maintenance activity and have it signed off by their ILAS Inspector at the next annual inspection. Minor modifications can also be done by the owners with the prior permission of their Inspector. An example would be changing out an incandescent lighting system for a LED based one.
However, more serious work that may alter the performance or flight characteristics of the aircraft (so that a flight test is required before flying again) require adherence to a system that ILAS calls "project control". Building an aircraft from plans or a kit, or substantially rebuilding an entire classic/vintage aircraft - or any major component of it, would clearly require project control. Changing an engine or altering an aircraft from nose wheel undercarriage to tailwheel are also examples of major modifications that require project control.
The four elements of the project control system are
- The current version of the plans and specifications for the aircraft type concerned
- An accepted and relevant standard and means of compliance, which specifies how aircraft in general should be built and repaired.
(an example is the FAA's AC 43 series of documents)
- The ILAS "Project Manual" that specifies what work will be done under this particular project
- The actual physical aircraft that may be inspected and tested for compliance with items 1 to 3.
- Join ILAS
The Project Control process and the document from which it draws its authority and procedures can only be applied to full current members of ILAS. It is an IAA requirement that all owners of a permit aircraft under the ILAS scheme maintain full membership of ILAS for the entire period during which they are availing of the ILAS scheme. This includes the period during which an aircraft is being restored or built as well as the validity period of any permit issued.
- Check that the Aircraft is an existing ILAS approved type.
Only certain specified aircraft can be built/restored/operated under the ILAS scheme. The current list of approved aircraft is available here. Members who are interested in building or restoring aircraft that are not already on the list can apply to have them added using this form. The decision will be based on the knowledge and experience within the Inspector corp to adequately supervise work on that type of aircraft and on the ILAS Technical Committee's positive opinion of the safety of the aircraft type and the quality of builder support available for it. Clearly, this step is not necessary for aircraft that have (or previously had) an ILAS permit and are being taken out of active service for major upgrade or overhaul.
- Apply for a Project Manual.
The Permit Secretary will issue the Project Manual to any current member on payment of a fee of €50, which can be deducted from the fee for the first permit after the completion of the project. The Permit Secretary will also appoint an ILAS Inspector with skills and experience relevant to the project concerned. Members can apply for the issue of a Project Manual on this page
- Agree the Project Scope with the Inspector.
The key part of the Project Manual is the "Project Scope" section, which sets out what work will be undertaken and which of the nine inspection steps are relevant to the work so that it can be tested and verified. This is an agreement between the Owner and Inspector. For example the fuselage section of the project manual for a new homebuilt aircraft might simply read "build the fuselage in accordance with the designers plans using the kit manufacturers supplied materials and parts".
- Carry out the work.
While you are building up your skills and experience, it is advisable to request regular visits from your inspector. For a large and more complex part of the project such as the fuselage, several visits may be required. In general the Inspector will want to see every joint and attachment involved in a structure before it is covered over (by the skin for example) so that it can no longer be inspected.
- Get the Inspector to examine and sign off each required inspection stage.
The inspection protocol for each inspection stage is described in the project manual and the necessary ground tests listed. The manual also records test parameters and data. Each project stage can be inspected and signed off at the completion of the work on that stage but several inspection stages can also be completed on the same day, as long as all the relevant components and their attachments are visible, accessible and can be ground tested. They must not be covered up by subsequent work and this limits the extent to which all inspections can be done together.
7. Apply for the issue of a Certificate for Fitness for Flight. Once all of the agreed work has been completed and the inspection stages signed off, the owner can apply for the issue of a Certificate of Fitness for Flight. This is not a permit as such and it only permits the aircraft to be flight tested. No passengers can be carried (only technical observers to record flight performance parameters) and the aircraft cannot leave Irish airspace. This stage is intended not only to test the aircraft but to supply data for the aircraft's individual Pilot's Operating Handbook. At the same time, the owner should request the Permit Secretary to issue a Permit Issue/renewal Workpack. This should be completed in cooperation with the Inspector. On submission, the work pack is examined by ILAS and if found complete, ILAS will submit it to IAA with a recommendation that a permit be issued. IAA have the right to carry out their own inspection of the aircraft (and usually do). However, close adherence to ILAS procedures and standards will almost guarantee the issue of a new permit