Aviation Law Articles
F.A.A. Inspectors and Ramp Cooperation
In almost every instance, when dealing with the F.A.A. inspector or otherwise, it is helpful to demonstrate a good “attitude” and try not to do anything to antagonize the situation. This is especially true in the case of ramp inspection by the F.A.A.
While it may be true that F.A.A. inspectors simply do not have anything better to do at the time, their job authorizes and requires occasional ramp inspections and they do not need search warrants. The inspectors are authorized to request to inspect your pilot certificate and aircraft documents. However, you do not have to hand over your certificate or other documents; you may offer to have copies made if they wish.
Also, the inspectors normally are not permitted to board your airplane. Still, there has been at least one reported case where a violation and suspension were upheld by the N.T.S.B. for failing to allow an F.A.A. inspector to complete a ramp inspection. Even in that situation, the enforcement action might not have been sought at all if the pilot did not manifest an attitude because he was in a hurry.
Further, while you can not be grounded because of the ground check itself, you probably will not want to proceed if one or more discrepancies are found, as you may be opening the door for an enforcement action. The better recommendation is to acquiesce in any suggestion to fix something before matters get worse. Remember, a good attitude and cooperation can go a long way toward, ultimately, saving time, your certificate and achieving less aggravation overall.
by Richard T. Miller, Specialist in Aviation Law – (818) 994-8234