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LICENSE TO BUILD RAF AIRCRAFT
(From CP46, Page 9, October, 1985)
Those of you who are active
builders know that your purchase of plans from RAF, entitles the holder to apply for a
license to allow him to construct one aircraft from the purchased set of plans. Plans sold
without the license indicate that the purchaser has obtained the plans for the purposes of
using as a book or educational material to learn fabrication or design processes but not
to build an airplane of this specific design.
In the past, RAF has accepted transfer of that license from the original purchaser to a second party, when that transfer was requested by the licensee and the license was transferred. However since this summer, current agreements specify that RAF support only those who are previously licensed to build the RAF designs and we cannot issue further licenses for any further production of the designs. In order to provide the best possible service to those licensed to build the aircraft with the remaining funds available for support we must insist that the support be limited to only those who are legally building the aircraft ie; those who have obtained a license to build one of the designs from RAF.
We are aware that there are instances where people are fabricating an EZ without a license from RAF. If those people have gotten information or authorization to do so from one of the licensees it must be made clear as to what the licensees' responsibilities are. Keep in mind that the individual that has obtained a license to build a Long-EZ, for example, has the permission of RAF to copy the RAF prototype Long-EZ for one airframe. He is the aircraft manufacturer and he is using certain design information purchased from RAF as well as other design information that he has generated himself or obtained elsewhere. There is no such thing as a conformal amateur built aircraft since there are no official conformality drawings accepted by the FAA or anyone. The FAA thus assumes that each aircraft is indeed a new type and does not have to conform to specific drawings or manufacturing processes. The drawings and manufacturing processes to be used on each airplane are totally the decision and right of the homebuilding manufacturer.
Now if you, as a licensee, wish to discontinue your project and sell it to someone, the new buyer is dealing with you, the licensed manufacturer, not with RAF. RAF's responsibility is to support the individual that has the license, not a third party. Thus keep in mind that if you are selling a project, don't expect that RAF can or will provide builder support to the person buying your project. That responsibility rests with you, the manufacturer. You are then effectively licensing the third party to produce an airplane of which you own all manufacturing rights. It is strongly suggested that if you do sell a project, either a completed airplane or a partially built airplane or a set of plans, that you contact an attorney and have him draw up an agreement between yourself as manufacturer and the new party whom you are authorizing to build an airplane and be certain that the agreement provides you with some release or indemnification from liability should that aircraft ever be completed and flown. Keep in mind that you are ethically obligated and responsible to the person who has trusted you for that information and that he may need continuing support to allow him to operate the aircraft safely. If you own a license from RAF, RAF will provide the support to you, however, it is your responsibility to pass that on to the individual that you have your own agreement with.
Refer to the adjacent diagram. In order for us to provide adequate support to those that have the legal right from us to manufacture the design, we must deal only with the licensee. Keep in mind that if you sell your plans, you are not merely selling someone a library book. You are authorizing them to build an aircraft and warranting the information. You ethically should promise to them that you will follow up whatever support is needed in the future to allow them to safely operate any aircraft built from the design information you have sold them.
Many people do not realize the responsibility that maybe attached to providing an agreement or license for someone to build a design based on information provided in the sale of plans. We do and that is why we intend to maintain our policy of providing to those licensed to build the aircraft any safety information that may come up in the future as a result of operational experience indicating any modification required or revision in the operating limitations.
This is why we at RAF intend to continue to provide the support necessary to allow a conscientious homebuilder to have the information at his disposal to build and operate a safe aircraft. The support role is not an easy task, it is one that involves many facets. Communication with the builder, continued testing of required modifications, follow up communication with the operators to determine if safety problems exist, accident investigation to determine if a cause is something that could be common to more than just the one aircraft, etc. The costs of maintaining all these activities have been extremely high, thus we have had to seek out other jobs and activities for the personnel involved. We anticipate that the support will be limited to those items relating to safety of operation and to provide it to those licensed to build the aircraft.