10 Tips to Dealing With FAA Ramp Checks

Jeffrey Alan Lustick

Written by  Pro

Aviation Lawyer

Contributor Level 14

Posted about 4 years ago. 12 helpful votes

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1. ATTITUDE: Be cool, be confident, don't panic, be polite and cooperative. 2. IDENTIFICATION: Verify that this person is an FAA inspector and that they have the authority to check you and your aircraft. This should be addressed at the very beginning. You should be reluctant to answer a bunch of questions for a stranger and, in fact, you should probably call the local FAA FSDO and report this individual if they could not produce proper and immediate identification. 3. WITNESSES: If possible, get a witness or two to the entire procedure. The inspector should not complain; it will protect both sides just in case things are not running as smoothly as either side would like. It will also give another pilot a chance to see how this type of inspection is conducted so they will be better prepared in case they are the next to feel the wrath or just parked nearby. 4. INQUIRE: You have a right to know why you have been selected for a ramp check. This is important to know so that you can keep the encounter focused and limited only to the reason for the check. 5. SEARCH WARRANT: Ramp checks are safety inspections and under the law, the FAA does not need to have a warrant to see your credentials or to look insid eof your plane. However, if you are informed that there is a search warrant, ask to see it, be cooporative, and polite. Ensure that the warrant identified you ro your airplane and seek legal counsel immeidtaley. 6. DO NOT VOLUNTEER INFO. You are required to give your name, state the fact that you are the pilot in command, and provide the required documents. Just as what they can do is spelled out very clearly in regulation, your participation should be to assist and not be the sole provider of information that may be detrimental to your future flying career. 7. NO RIGHT TO BOARD THE PLANE. Unless you give consent, the FAA cannot board a private aircraft not operated as a charter, airtaxi or airline. The inspector may, howvere, walk arround and look in the windows. The inspector may touch your plane and manulipulate the control surfaces. If the inspector asks to see inside, you can refuse to let them. 8. COURTESY: The requirement here is that both sides be civil and courteous to each other, and obviously if either side is lacking in manners, this is not going to be an easy ordeal. One of the things the FAA inspector is looking as is the pilots attutude toward regulation. If you are rude or abusive to the FAA inspector, this will probably be taken as a bad regilotory attitude and may exacerbate the situation. 9. PILOT CERTIFICATE: Inspectors have the right to inspect your license, but NOT keep it for any reason. While operating an aircraft in the United States, at all times, you must have on your person your Pilot’s Certificate and a current Medical Certificate. If someone is a Flight Instructor, they must have that license also. We are not required to have our personal logbook with us nor the maintenance records for the airplane, although we might have to produce both or either at a later meeting. 10. DOCUMENTS IN HAND: The documents that are required to comply with the inspector's request are supposed to be on board at all times anyway: CHART (Current), AIRWORTHINESS CERTIFICATE, RADIO LICENSE*, REGISTRATION, OPERATING LIMITATIONS, WEIGHT AND BALANCE . . . Remember CH.-A.R.R.O.W.

Additional Resources

Lustick Law Firm - Aviation Law

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