The process for installing research equipment on certified aircraft requires:
- approved designs,
- conformity of the actual build to the approved designs.
Design approvals are provided via FAA Form 8110-3 by the appropriate designees (i.e. DER structures, systems and equipment, flammability, etc.). Aircraft repair and modification facilities will not touch a certified aircraft without approved data. Prior to installation, parts and assemblies require inspection conformities to verify the parts actually look like the drawings. A statement of conformity is issued by the RAF Inspection Authorization, IA (several RAF mechanics have this FAA license), followed by an authorized release certificate, FAA Form 8130-9, Airworthiness Approval Tag, from an appropriate designee (Designated Airworthiness Representative, DAR; Designated Manufacturing Inspection Representative, DMIR) for each component prior to installation. Again, aircraft repair and modification facilities will not install anything on a certified aircraft without airworthiness tags.
Finally after installation a final inspection is performed that ultimately results in approval to actually fly the aircraft and start operations.
In order to issue a statement of conformity, the designee must have access to approved data. In simple cases approved data on materials may be suitable (such as the flammability 8110-3 for wiring). In more complex cases, 8110-3 may be required for components other than wiring. The 8110-3 is issued by an appropriate DER. For example, if your instrument incorporates a large PVC-encased power supply, a DER makes a determination on the compliance of the design and the designee will determine that the actual hardware conforms to the design.
Therefore, it is important to contact RAF or a DER prior to purchsing parts and building the instrument. If part of the design will require change to comply, it will be easy to do on the paper and can be costly and time consuming if the actual hardware needs to be altered.