Is it legal to build and fly your own airplane? This essentially leads to two central questions: Will the FAA even let you build and fly your own airplane?, and Will there need to be inspections and testing records to certify it as flightworthy and legal before being able to fly it?

Say I built my own plane, a large plane. 3 Propellers powering the plane. Amphibious, can land and take off on a runway or on the water. It's red, if this makes any real difference. And it is built to support 2 people and is supposed to be able to fly for up to 1 week without refueling. That being said, if the plane crashes it'll cause quite some damage. And to fly for 1 week supporting 2 people and quite a lot of cargo in the form of food and other essentials, the airplane is loaded with fuel.

If I know the plane floats on the water, could I fly it in an unpopulated area in short testing runs, or is that considered illegal? This also brings the question, Is there is a limit to how much fuel a plane can legally carry in a single flight? Any help would be much appreciated.

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    $\begingroup$ Have you read through the FAA regulations (in the FARs) concerning experimental aircraft? Limitations are pretty clearly spelled out... $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    May 26 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ Could you link those regulations, by chance? That would help quite a lot. Thank you. $\endgroup$
    – Ginger
    May 26 at 20:35
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    $\begingroup$ Most of your challenges will be from the laws of physics, not the FAA. $\endgroup$ May 26 at 20:42
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    $\begingroup$ There is an irreparable conflict with realms of regulations and physics here. According to regulations building and flying is totally possible (albeit extremely laborous, accounting for design, building and the red tape), but the plane described is not possible, not if the specified week of operating consists of even 1/10 of flight time (~17 h). Twin Otter as an example: fuel burn ~575lb/h, fuel capacity ~2500lb, max weight ~12500lb, so fuel about 20% of max w. for 17 h of flying you'd need ~10000lb of fuel, so very rough estimate of max w is about 50000lb. IRL it's even worse. $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    May 27 at 7:14
  • $\begingroup$ @ob318 There is no reason to put "under FAA regulations" into the title, as the question is already tagged such. Per this StackExchange Meta question it is simply not needed, even for search engine optimization. $\endgroup$
    – CGCampbell
    May 27 at 12:51

Yes, it's legal. The FAA has an amateur-built aircraft homepage with links to regulations, guidance etc.

It's also very common. The Experimental Aircraft Association has a lot of resources too.

  • $\begingroup$ But can I fly the plane without completing those forms? And another question for people with a similar issue but that don't have pilot licenses, Could a person fly their own plane without a pilot license? (The controls could be all wack, being however the builder wanted it) $\endgroup$
    – Ginger
    May 26 at 21:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Ginger In the US, you can't "operate" an "aircraft" (definitions in 14 CFR 1.1) unless it's registered (14 CFR 91.203(a)) and you have a pilot's certificate (14 CFR 61.3(a)). Ultralights are exempt from those requirements. Flying without a pilot's certificate is not recommended. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    May 26 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ Needless to say, the concept in question here will not fit the ultralights category :) $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    May 27 at 6:47

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