FAA Ramp Checks!

A1FlyBoy

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FAA Ramp Checks: At an airport NEAR YOU!

Hey,

I was wondering what your experiences with FAA Ramp checks have been. Where and when they occurred, what was said, demanded, expected, etc.

I have never had a ramp check. Regardless, however, if I was flying in VFR for fun, planning to take jumpers up, or on a 135 mission am I under the correct impression all we need to do is the following:

- show a current license ( and the proper one for our mission )
ie: private for a vfr flight, or commercial for jumpers etc.

- show a current and appropriate medical ( 1st, 2nd, 3rd )

here's my question: I've been told we DO NOT have to show them our logbook. The logbook could be in our car's trunk, locked briefcase, etc. Why give them the 'can of worms' when you only need to give them a worm. Right? My log book is neat, up to date, etc, but why risk it.

- I'm sure for the mission, IE jumper pilot, or maybe any flight, they'll want a fresh weight and balance.

Looking forward to hearing your experiences and recommendations to make such experiences non-events!
 

RichardFitzwell

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A1FlyBoy,

I have found that FAA inspectors are big on caning (aka. beating with a cane), anal probes and nipple clamps.

No...really most are very polite. They all ask to see your license and medical. Some ask to see if your charts and revisions are up to date (135 or 121). I also have been asked to see the aircraft's airworthiness and registration.

Most definitely DO NOT offer your logbook. Infact, leave it at home. :)

R.F.
 

A1FlyBoy

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Did they approach you on the ramp while doing your preflight or what?

Thanks
 

RichardFitzwell

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Yep...

A1FlyBoy,

You usually see them coming. They are easy spotted because they look out-of-place. The most obvious signs of a FAA inspector include...a very bad haircut, polyester floods, and a tie that's too short.

They will approach during preflights and identify themselves as, "being from the FAA and here to help." -first lie. I have also been approached while seated in the cockpit but it is my understanding that they cannot delay your departure unless they have a good reason.

R.F.
 

bobbysamd

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Ramp checks and logbooks

Of course, you have to carry your logbook with you as a student per the FARs. After you earn your Private, you can leave it at home. Of course, your airplane paperwork must be in order.

The regs say an ASI can make a reasonable request to view your logbook. What that means is you can make an appointment to meet with the fed at the FSDO. Don't forget to bring your aviation lawyer with you - and I'm not being facetious.

Every pilot should read Practical Aviation Law by J. Scott Hamilton, ISBN: 0813818176, to learn what the FAA can and cannot do. Also, go to this Avweb site, http://www.avweb.com/articles/enforce1/ , and read the series of articles.
 
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starchkr

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I have been ramped twice in 2 years, both while on 135 flights. The first time the feds were maint. inspectors and they only wanted to see the a/c maint. logs and make sure all of the ad's and hourly times were met on the engines and such. They never asked for our liscenses or medicals, nor did we offer them. The second time i was in the lobby eating lunch in HOU and the guys came in and asked for my liscense and medical, wrote my info down, we talked about who i worked for, and then they said thanks and left.(I hope that was a good sign)

I guess these were pretty mild compared to what they have been known to do.

One thing i saw above about them delaying a 135 or 121 flight is correct. They may NOT delay the scheduled departure of any 135 or 121 flight unless they deem something wrong and un airworty of your aircraft, of which they must then ground the aircraft. Which is exactly what they did to another guy just after they ramped me the first time. They aparently were specifically waiting for this other 135 carrier to come in after being tipped off by the airport about the practices of the pilot, and we just happened to taxi in while they were waiting for him. They grounded his a/c due to a single screw missing in the cowl and wouldn't let him locate one and install it because he wasn't an a&p. The guys then sat in their car in the parking lot for hours to verify that the pilot wasn't going to leave, which made the pilot mad because he was going to blast off anyway as soon as the feds left(this guy was a really stubborn pilot who believed he could do anything he felt he wanted to do...seems like most pilots i know).

Again it all depends on what the guys are after as to what they are going to do. Never volunteer info, and never lie to get away with something, because if they find out you could be in a world of hurt. Most of all the guys are nice about it, and like was already said, you can definately see them coming from a mile away... they ALL look the same.
 

AK737FO

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I've only been ramped checked once. I was assisting on the Stearman annual and this short, overweight, bad suit fellow comes into the hanger and starts putting his hands all over the airplane. (Now, I was not married at the time, so the airplane was my wife, and I sure as heck know that he would not appreciate me touching his wife like that!) He was grinnin from ear to ear as he asked to see my license and medical. Now the airplane was on jacks, the mains were off for new hydraulic seals, all the cowlings and inspection plates were off, it was obvious that we were several days from going flying. I was covered in oil and had been rolling around all day in hydraulic fluid, it was close to dinner time and this guy is touching my wife!
Well, I gave him what he wanted and he shuffled out the door after a little while.
I have always wondered what would have happened if I had not had my paper work with me. After all, I had no intentions of flying that day, I was only there to help pull wrenches.
As far as your log book goes. Leave it at home. If a fed gets nasty and wants to see currency, quickly find a cocktail napkin, scribble down a few landings and give him you "logbook" with a smile.
A few more opinions... I have never met a "good" fed. I think that most of them are people who would like to be doing your job or mine, but are not good enough to make it. We are being policed by the lowest common denominator. And what ever you do, don't EVER trust a fed.
 

low&slow

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I have never been ramped myself, but had a student of mine get ramp checked on one of his local solo flights. The student had all his paper work in order for the solo local flight, but the examiner noticed he had not been endoresed for solo x-c flights on his certificate, and he had flown some x-c's. He did not get in trouble from the examiner, and nor did I. He just told me to write a letter explaining that the student had been trained on all subject areas required for solo x-c, and was authorized to conduct the flight, and that the missing endorsement was a simple F-up on my part. He was happy with that and went on his way. All the logbook endorsments were in order for solo x-c flights. So, inspectors aren't necessarily out to get you, they can be reasonable. But still play safe and have everything in order in case you get the one guy that's having a bad day.

low&slow
 

Twotter76

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I have been ramped several times in the last few months, and by and large all of the feds I have dealt with were very cordial and polite. I fly 121 and they will generally find us while we are waiting at the gate and ask for license and medical. Occasionally they will want to see the registration, FCC licenses, airworthiness certs etc etc. for the aircraft.

If they are maintainence inspectors then they will likely want to walk around the aircraft and see the logs. If they want out on the secure area make sure that they have the proper ID and escort them if they dont (if your airport allows this). Just be polite and show them whatever they want to see and it should be a non-event. I would advise against offering information unless they specifically ask for it.
 

GOBUFFS

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my first ramp check came about a month ago. it involved 4 inspectors(3 mx and 1 other)--talk about intimidation.
i had everything in order, but was nervous because it seems these people have ways of finding something wrong with nothing.
the only things they had issues with were that the lettering on the oil cap had become faded, and the fuel cap said 100, not 100LL. also my wilkey button was loose? which is the apparent name of the cap that covers the servicing port for the air/oil strut.
i can honestly say that i did not know that! i guess you can learn something from a fed:)
God Bless
 

jaybird

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I've never been ramp checked, but my friends student was at an outlying field. When the inspector approached him he said the usual "hi, I'm with the FAA and I'm here to help."

The student tying down the plane ans not knowing any better gave him the rope to help him tie down the plane and walked off.

I thought it was a funny story.
 

avbug

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Some good, some not so good. Some working for certificate holders or operators; mostly good. Some under 91, very unpleasant. Three leap to mind. One was working for a 135 operator in 206's and 207's. I got ramped at a remote field away from our home base. The field manager had been having a spat with a local resident, who knew we used that managers facilities a lot. The resident called the FAA and arranged for them to be there when we showed up.

The inspector asked to see a specific airplane by N number, before he had even seen the airplane; it was obvious he knew what he wanted to see. As we approached the airplane he said, "your compass card is missing. Show me." I noted that it was covered by a window shade and the airplane was closed, but I'd open it and check. I wasnt' worried, because It had been there when I tied down the night before. Sure enough, someone had taken it. Then he said, "You have a seatbelt at the rear of the airplane which is not PMA'd or approved. I want to see it."

I opened the rear door, and sure enough, the PMA band on one of the seatbelts had been removed. I assured him that the belt was legitimate and approved, as I had installed it, and the band had been there; same as the compass card. A second inspector began poking around in the cockpit and called me over. Under the right seat rudder pedals, some plastic was sticking out. It was obviously part of a freezer bag. It was obvious at this point that we'd bee set up by the local resident, and I could only imagine what might be in a little bag under the floor. I got it out, and discovered it was the insulation that was origionally under the rudder pedals (removed from most aircraft due to corrosion potential). Fortunately the inspectors weren't idiots. They could see what had happened, and let us go on with a promise to rectify the discrepancies.

For space and brevity, I'll post an account of the other two ramp checks that stand out, in a separate posting.
 

54fighting

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While we are on this subject, can anyone give me the specific FAR that states Jepp revisions must be inserted into your Jepp binder.

I was ramped, part 121, and I had 2 revisions that were with me in the flight deck but not in my binders. The Fed said they needed to be placed in the binders according to the FAR's but he did not give me the specific FAR.

My company FOM states that we need to have current charts, plates etc in our posession. Nothing about being inserted.

Thanks.
 

avbug

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The second event was in a 182. I had flown to another airport where this company had a main office. I flew up in a 172 with a regular club pilot who couldn't afford to fly much; he got a free ride in exchange for bringing the airplane home while I ferried the 182 back. When we got to the other airport, he asked if we could fly back in formation. I told him that would be fine, and instructed him what to do. We had a briefing, and a short lesson on what to expect, and then I told him I would form up on him; all he had to do was fly, I'd do the rest. I told him to disregard heading and altitude, and just fly; don't worry about me.

In the air, he kept asking where I was, what my altitude was, my heading, etc. I tried explaination a couple of times, but our departure and destination fields were only a half hour apart, and both on the same CTAF. So for brevity I told him, "That's unimportant, Bob." "Dunno, Bob." He got his view of another aircraft, and once through the canyon, I kissed off and left for the field. I had instructed him to take some time, go practice some maneuvers and sightsee, and then bring the airplane in when he was done. I landed, and taxiid to my parking spot.

The engine wasn't shut down when there was a lot of banging. It surprised me, and I looked to see a very large man pounding on the left door of the 182. I killed the engine with the mixture, and before I could get out he was waving an ID in my face and yelling at me to get out of the airplane. I got out, and found an Aztec parked behind me, with the left engine running, and the right shut down. The inspector had been giving a practical multi test in the airplane, was in the pattern when I landed, and was in such a hurry to ramp and serve a violation that he cut the ride short, and jumped out of the airplane to come after me while the engines on the Aztec were still running, and the engine on my 182 was still running.

He demanded my certificate and medical. He told me I had just performed a formation landing, which he said wasn illegal and unsafe. I told him I wasn't aware of that, and it turned out that the other pilot in the 172 had landed behind me, touching down the same time as I did. I didn't see him follow me to the pattern in an effort to try his hand at formation (straight tail 182; no rear windows, and stupid me, didn't check my six). He wanted to know why I was unable to determine my heading or altitude (I was, but it wasn't important on the radio, or necessary). He then wanted to know what right I had to perform formation flying, and told me that formation flying is illegal.

I pointed out that I was unaware of the other airplane in the pattern or the landing, but he stated that I held a higher certification, and he would go after me, anyway.

I suggested we go upstairs to the flying club to talk. He ranted and yelled all the way up the stairs. I quoted the regulations for formation flight, and pointed out that I probably had a lot more time in formation than he did. Finally when he calmed down a little, he told me I was right, that I had done nothing wrong, but that he might still bring enforcement action against me. He said that yes, I'd be exhonerated and proven right in about a year, and would win on appeal, but that it would be a black mark on my record, and would damage my career. He turned to walk away, and paused, then said, "You know what? I might do it anyway, just for spite."

Some days you're the windshield, some days the bug. I'm a career bug. No enforcement action ever materialized.
 

avbug

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54fighting,

Your company is correct. I'll find the legal notice for you later if I have time, but the charts do not need to be in the binders; only in your possession. However if you failed to open the revisions and extract the necessary charts or consult the chart NOTAMS, you could be found in violation. Simply having charts on board but not consulting them could be a forseeable violation.

I do this frequently. If I get revisions and then need to fly, I take the revisions with me and do them if I have time. In every case, I open the revision and verify that none of the material pertains to my flight. If it does, I extract it and use it.

Recently I made the mistake of entering a revision early. Jepp has gotten into the annoying habit of sending about every other revision packet out with half the charts due one week, half the next. It makes updating very tedious. I went ahead and entered the charts a day early, and didn't think twice. I got sent to a different location than anticipated, and once there, received a clearance with a DP. I looked and looked for the DP, and finally had to admit to Clearance Delivery that I couldn't find that DP. The controller laughed, and said, "You already did tomorrows revision, didn't you?" He gave me the textual description, and all was well, but...lesson learned.
 

avbug

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Final story, and I promise to waste no more bandwidth on ramp stories (What is bandwidth, anyway??).

Part 135, light twin, air ambulance. I ended up carrying a friend who had a heart attack. I was preoccupied with seeing him safely into the ambulance, and didn't notice the two guys in cheap suits with mismatched socks looking the airplane over, until they asked for my certificate and medical. All was quiet until then. It turned out they were doing a base inspection at the FBO/Operator where I stopped with the patient, and the airplane I was flying belonged to that company; it was on leaseback to mine...so they wanted to inspect it, too. Fine.

One inspector was good cop. Very cordial, very polite. Asked a few questions. Second inspector was Satan. (Really).

Screwtape crawled all over the aircraft. Before the patient was even in the ambulance, he was in the back of the airplane pawing through the patients medical records. I took them away from the inspector twice, stating that those papers were private and confidential. He began tossing medical supplies out of the aircraft, and going through the nurses drug bag. Then he went around to the front of the aircraft and began tossing out all the papers there. I went to a payphone to call the boss; I spoke to the DO and told him what was happening. He told me to have them call him when they were done playing.

When I got back to the aircraft, screwtape was ready. He told me that the oxygen bottle sitting on the medical stretcher was a violation, as it wasn't secured. I pointed out that we had just removed the patient, and right now, nothing was secured. He told me I obviously didn't have the flight experience to be doing this job, and had never seen real turbulence, as that bottle could kill someone where it was. He made me secure everything and tie it all down while it sat on the ramp, to demonstrate that I did know how to secure things.

There was an old, old notebook in a pouch in the cockpit that had been used for discrepancies ages ago (and probably waitresses phone numbers and who knows what else). The last discrepancy noted was some fifteen years before; the book hadn't been touched in a LONG time. He stated that this was the maintenance log and wasn't used, and wrote that up as a violation. I explained that it wasn't the discrepancy log we used, but he didn't care. He demanded my certificate and medical again, and said he'd give them "to the boys at the GADO (FSDO) to take care of."

He found nine discrepancies, such as a chip on the ice detector lens, and wrote them all down stating that they were grounding items. He was yelling, waving his arms in the air, and turned a most energetic shade of purple. (I thought for a while he might need that oxygen bottle, and regretted sending the ambulance away prematurely). One discrepancy was what he called a cracked main landing gear door. That particular door had a fiberglass inner laminate stiffener, and the gelcoat surface had a scratch, which had been darkened by grease. I didn't argue, but thanked him for finding it, and asked what he wanted me to do.

He assured me he would put "red tags" on everything and ground the airplane, but that he was all out of red tags. He said I either had to have the door removed, or fixed, but that the airplane could not be flown in that condition. I invited him inside, and called the DO and DoM to talk with him. Then I took the nurses to lunch. I called the boss from lunch, he assured me the problem had been taken care of, and that he'd contracted with the owner/FBO to remove the doors.

I arrived back to find the doors in place, and after discussing it with the FBO/DoM, the doors were removed, stored in baggage, and we left for home. The next morning the I visited the DO in his office, and arrived just in time for the FAA to call. I could hear the inspector yelling even though the DO was accross a desk from me with the phone to his ear. Finally he handed the phone to me, and said, "here. This is for you."

The inspector was livid. He made threats. He screamed into the phone. He yelled. He finally sent me a letter of investigation, to which I replied. In that reply, I included his statement to "either have it removed, or get it fixed." Two months later he called me at home at ten o' clock at night, still upset and yelling, and told me that he would have dropped the whole thing, but that I had implicated him, and that he would "nail" me "to the wall." Then he hung up.

Shortly thereafter the inspector was transferred to another area. I found out he had been required to transfer a number of times in his career; three times when he pushed people so hard during ramp checks that he was punched and knocked down in the ramp. It took another full year, but I was cleared of everything, couched in the FAA's characteristic self-protective language that they had been unable to find adequate evidence to proceed, and that "conflicting information" existed about the circumstances. Instead, I was given a letter of warning, an administrative action, that stayed in my record for two years, and followed me.

Gotta love the feds. I do. But then, I 'm a career bug.
 

ilinipilot

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I read it posted that you only need your medical and license, which I agree but you also need to have some proof of currency with you. If that is in your logbook that is fine if it is on a sheet of paper that is fine too. When you were ramp checked did the FAA ask to show your currency, because that is what I am teaching my students.
I am interested in the replies
Thanks
 

A1FlyBoy

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Great stories guys! AvBug, if you have more we'd love to read them. We may find ourselves in a similiar sitaution one day and having thought about what actions to take can make all the difference.
 

KlingonLRDRVR

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Been ramped more times than I like. You can always tell when they are coming because they do stick out like a sore thumb, or it maybe, it's the short hairs on my neck that stand on end if within 500 feet of a Fed. I always try to have my license and medical out before they ask for it - because they will. I also make sure to get the Regisration and Airworthiness Cert. out. They seem to like that. I am also very nice and ask them how their day is going. I then start to dig into where they used to work before becoming a Fed. and what cool planes they flew. If you can get them talking about themselves it keeps them from prying and asking you too many questions. Before you know it, it will be time for you to leave on your next leg as they can not hold up a 135 or 121 flight. Moral of the story, scratch them behind the ears because they like it but never take your eyes off them because some but not all are known to bite. Good Luck.

KlingonLRDRVR
 

ShawnC

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How often do they ramp check part 91 flights/planes/pilots? Also can the FAA come onto private fields such as some of the fly-ins(I know cops don't patrol most of them)?
 
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