Pilots are expected to conduct flights safely and remain in compliance with the Federal Aviation Regulations. The FAA conducts "ramp checks" to ensure pilots maintain these expectations. Though generally straightforward, some ramp checks end up with enforcement actions against the pilot. This subject report provides guidance and suggestions on how to properly handle an FAA ramp check.
A typical check involves the inspection of the pilot's airman and medical certificates and aircraft paperwork and an exterior inspection of an aircraft. The inspector may use a "Job Aid" during the inspection; this aid helps demystify the expectations. A cooperative and diplomatic attitude will usually result in a positive ramp inspection.
An FAA ramp check may occur when an inspector:
á Observes an unsafe operation in the traffic pattern or in the ramp.
á Is notified by ATC of an unsafe operation.
á Conducts normal surveillance.
The typical ramp inspection for most noncommercial operations is during normal surveillance. The aviation safety inspector will usually present identification before conducting a ramp inspection. If you suspect you are subject of a ramp inspection and the individual does not present identification, you may ask for it, and the inspector is required to present it.
The check basically involves a review of the airman and the aircraft. The findings from both are usually noted on the FAR Part 91 Ramp Inspection Job Aid.
The inspector is not authorized to detain you if it means missing a flight or making an engagement. They may only keep you long enough to check the required paperwork.
If requested, the pilot is required to present his or her pilot and medical certificates and a photo ID; and if applicable, the logbook. Only student pilots and recreational pilots are required to carry logbooks; all other pilots are advised to keep their logbooks at home. Don't be alarmed if the inspector begins noting this information on his Job Aid. Presenting the documentation is required, but not physically releasing the documents.
The pilot certificate is inspected to ensure the airman has the proper certificate and ratings for operations conducted, such as instrument operations requiring an instrument rating on the pilot's certificate. The medical is checked for proper class; conducting commercial operations requires at least a second class medical. If applicable, the logbook will be checked for records of currency (e.g., flight review, instrument currency, and landings and takeoffs for passengers).
The inspector is not authorized to board your aircraft without the knowledge of the crew. They may inspect the exterior and look through windows.
The inspector is authorized to inspect:
á The airworthiness certificate.
á The aircraft registration.
á The operating handbook.
á The weight and balance information.
á The minimum equipment list (if applicable).
á Aeronautical charts (for currency).
á The general airworthiness of the aircraft.
á The ELT battery.
á A VOR check.
á The seats/safety belts.
AOPA suggests cooperating with the inspectors, and the following may help reduce the time and scope of the inspection:
á Be courteous and cooperative.
á Be busy; FAA inspectors are not authorized to delay you for any great length of time.
á Do not volunteer more information than is absolutely required.
á Keep in an easily referenced location at least the following information:
o Your medical and pilot certificate.
o Logbook (only for student pilots).
o Airworthiness certificate (displayed at the cabin or cockpit entrance (91.203[b]).
o Aircraft registration.
o Approved flight manual or operating handbook.
o Weight and balance data.
o Current charts appropriate for flight (VFR and IFR).
If the ramp check is due to a possible violation, anything you say or do may be used against you.
If you have enrolled in , call AOPA's Pilot Information Center at 800/USA-AOPA immediately. The consequences for even minor infractions can be far more serious than you might think. If you have not enrolled in AOPA's Legal Services Plan, call AOPA to speak with an aviation specialist about how best to proceed.
For more information, read and .
Did you know the taxiway markings at several major airports have changed slightly? Again, in the interest of safe aviation, the following has been taken from AOPA.
ENHANCED TAXIWAY MARKINGS POP UP AT BUSIEST AIRPORTS
If you fly at one of the in the United States, you'll notice something different as you taxi to the runway hold-short line. Yellow dashes will soon be placed on both sides of the taxiway centerline within 150 feet of the runway hold-short line. This is intended to alert pilots that they are approaching a runway holding position and should cross-check taxiing instructions to determine if they are cleared to cross the hold-short line. They will be installed at all major air carrier airports by June 30, 2008.