Getting Through a FAA Ramp Check with the Help of Experienced Pilot Attorney Simon Kabzan
Ramp checks and inspections always have the potential to make your heart jump into your throat, as FAA officials are notorious for using any and all evidence of criminal activity against pilots and other aviation workers. Ostensibly this is to keep the public safe, but it can unfairly target those who have followed every rule to the letter and failed a ramp check due to another’s irresponsibility.
This is why it is crucial to always keep your certification documents on your person while operating an aircraft, as FAA officials can inspect your aircraft at any time they wish, and you must show them your certification or face penalties.
It’s also a good idea to keep any logbooks on you so that you can produce evidence of past issues that may arise during the inspection.
Another crucial thing to keep in mind is to be cordial, polite, and cooperative with FAA officials. Note that none can take your certification or ground your aircraft without further evidence of criminal misdeeds, so be sure your documentation is returned to you in a prompt manner.
However, avoid unintentionally incriminating yourself by giving away too much information. When speaking to officials, remember ARROW (aircraft’s airworthiness certificate, aircraft registration, weight information, and operating handbook) and always provide documentation when you can.
Only answer questions that you are asked and do not volunteer any more information than what you are asked. This is especially important if you are being accused of a criminal charge, as this can lead to an increase in the severity of both the crime and punishment.
Typically, FAA officials conduct ramp checks to ensure that no FARs have been committed and that everything looks as it should with your certifications and the exterior of the aircraft. If they find something out of order or in violation, it’s up to you to take responsibility and make officials aware of all problems when they board the plane. There is a fine line between incriminating yourself and being transparent, so do not reveal any more information than you need to.
Aviation should be fun--not a stressor added into your life. When it becomes a chore or something you dread, call Mr. Kabzan to schedule your appointment. There’s no time to delay when it comes to your freedom of flight - so so do not wait until it is too late to save your career and certifications.
If you can, have a witness with you who can corroborate your own story, such as a copilot or other aircraft operator by your side. While this is not always possible, it’s a good idea to have a witness who can attest to the FAA official’s behavior and ensure that everything went by the book.
Any violation discovered during a ramp check, whether it be illegal cargo or something less serious, can turn into an investigation in a moment. If you feel as though you may have trouble in the future with ramp checks and FAA officials, call an aviation lawyer before you receive your Letter of Investigation.
Preparing for all eventualities is the only way to protect yourself in this strict industry, and Simon Kabzan, Esq. is the perfect lawyer for any airman looking to keep his career safe.