Ramp Check

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jnmeade
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Ramp Check

Postby jnmeade » Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:48 am

I was at a recent WINGS presentation by Ed Leineweber, J.D. and a bunch more, on ramp checks. Few in the audience had been through a ramp check, where an FAA inspector looks at your paperwork and aircraft. I have not.
The consensus at the meeting was there were "white hat" and "black hat" ramp checks, depending on the personality of the inspector.
There are ramp checks that aim at part 91 (us LSA fliers), part 135 (charter) and part 103 (ultralights) and they are a little different. In hangar talk, this gets lost so sometimes you got told one thing about a ramp check that is true for a 135 but not for you as a 91.
Here are just a few highlights of the presentation:
The FAA inspector has to carry and you have a right to see the ID
The FAA inspector is checking on operations, not crusiing around the T hangars looking for a plane that hasn't flown in months.
You don't have to let the FAA inspector inside your airplane.
Anything you say can be used by the FAA. For example, you land early one morning, taxi to parking and tie down your airplane. Your passenger heads for the ladies room. A person approaches, flashes a badge (OR MAYBE DOESN'T!) and says, "nice looking airplane, where did you fly in from?" You are flattered and tell of an airport a ways away. "Oh, you must have taken off at night." You respond, "yes, it's quite and calm then - my wife likes to see the stars." Eventually, it gets around to looking at your logbook, which you've brought with you, and the inspector notes that you have not logged currency for night operations.
What could you have said?
When the person approaches and asks the question, the first thing to do might be to pleasantly and politely determine who they are by asking them directly if they are an FAA official and carry on from there. When they pleasantly say, "yes, we're just doing a routine walk around to see how things are going" and then asks you "where did you fly in from", what are you going to tell them?
The instructor said that always, when dealing with the FAA or any federal official DON'T LIE.
We've been told by the FAA that our attitude when we are being looked at is important. If we are positive, want to do right, are interested in correcting our mistakes and improve safety, the FAA will take that into account when considering how to address any aviation sins they think we've committed. So, we've been conditioned to nod our head, smile, bit our tongue and otherwise "cooperate". We think cooperation means talking. So we blab. And the FAA can use what we say. They hand us the shovel and we dig the hole.
So, what do you do when the stranger comes up and says, "nice plane, my friend has one like it, where'd you come in from"? Our natural reaction is to beam and say, "oh, we took off at night from XXX and flew in just now." What should we say?
Probably something like, "hey, thats' great. What's your friend's name, maybe I know him. They're a sweet airplane. my wife just went to the ladies room and I'm going to join her for breakfast just as soon as I get this tied down. Sorry to be in a hurry." Or, if you're like me, you'd just say, "are you from the FAA"?
No one is suggesting that one "play games" but one does want to make sure who one is talking with before one says something that could be used against them.
To answer the first example, I'd find out if he was from the FAA and when I learned that, my response would be, pleasantly, "I'm going to join my wife now and we have plans so I'd like to move along. What is it that you'd like?" If he then asks again, where'd you fly in from, I'd say that I don't care to discuss anything outside the scope of his surveillance (their word for it).
Should you carry your pilot and aircraft log books? There are sometimes reasons for doing so but usually there are not, so it's not a good idea to carry anything not required. If they see it laying on the seat, they can demand it and then they can use anything they find in it. If it's safely at home, you can send them pertinent information without giving them the entire book so they can go through it.
Do SP pilots have to carry their log books? The FAA says yes, but the question is, what is a log book? My understanding is that you required to carry the documentation and endorsements the FAA has stipulated. That does not have to be the little book or electronic device you record every flight in. You have to be able to prove you are legal for whatever you are doing. My reference for this is Carol Carpenter of Rainbow Aviation who says they often get requests for endorsements to be made in a separate "log book" that is solely to satisfy the FAA requirements.
One school of thought is to carry one book and make sure it's always right (make sure you don't lose it). Neat, clean and simple.
Another is to carry a log book of necessary endorsements and currency requirements and either not log other information or log it elsewhere. For example, one could log everything in the electronic log and keep the on-board paper log current by making such duplicate entries as might be needed (for example, 3 T/O LDG in 90 days).
Well, this should start a firestorm of personal experiences, "I know for a facts"s, "I had a friend" and so forth. Ramp check. White hat, black hat. What do we "know" about them and what do we really know based on the regs and FAA Order?

ct4me
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Re: Ramp Check

Postby ct4me » Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:42 pm

I know a guy, who has a friend, who... :wink:
Nope, never been checked or even heard any first-person account of a check. It would be interesting to see a log of checks done, as kept by the FAA. How many, how often, what airports, time-of-day, etc. Is that info available as a public record?
In the last few years, I've heard of numerous ramp checks done by DHS/CBP, done under the guise of national security. Scary, as they come at you with black SUVs, guns, and maybe a helicopter. 'Few rules and no accountability. Presumably looking for guns or money. Reports of these checks have tapered off... maybe they were pumping a dry well. But that's a different thread.
Tim
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drseti
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Re: Ramp Check

Postby drseti » Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:14 pm

Good info there, Jim. I've never been ramp checked, but I do get audited annually by TSA and the State div. of aeronautics. But then, I'm an FBO, not just an itinerant aircraft, and cooperation is mandatory in my situation. So far, I've been lucky to encounter only the white-hat guys. And all they're interested in is determining that my paperwork is in order. So far, I've yet to hear the dreaded "zese papers are not in order. You vill come viss me."
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
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FrankR
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Re: Ramp Check

Postby FrankR » Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:42 pm

An interesting article from an Aero Law Firm with suggestions on what to do when ramp checked.

Nothing surprising here.

http://www.aerolegalservices.com/Articles/RampCheck.shtml
Frank
Fayetteville, NC

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MrMorden
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Re: Ramp Check

Postby MrMorden » Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:08 am

I have been in law enforcement before. The best thing you can do is not say anything unless required to. Ask the question "am I being detained for some reason, or am I free to go?" If they say you are free to go, then GO. If not, start asking THEM questions...what is the nature of their inquiry, what is the authority they are operating under, are you required to answer, do you have right to counsel, etc.

In the US you are protected from self incrimination by the fifth amendment. Use that to your advantage, and just tell them you don't really have time to answer questions. If they are going to force the issue you'll know immediately.
Andy Walker
Athens, GA
Sport Pilot ASEL, LSRI
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bryancobb
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Re: Ramp Check

Postby bryancobb » Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:49 pm

In 30 years of flying, THE ONLY RAMP CHECK I HAVE EVER SEEN OR HEARD OF...Is my friend who flew his single engine Comanche' to the Cayman Islands A LOT! All of those flight plans to cross Cuba threw up the red flag and I was with him in Marathon once, when the authorities came down on his plane in droves.

I was a little worried because he was a Pharmacist and I hoped he wasn't doing something illegal. Well about an hour later we were released to go on our way.

They scrutinized his license and medical certificate and both of our I.D.'s. The plane had to be completely unloaded. All bags were 100% checked. The airworthiness certificate and registration was checked.

It involved people from the FAA, The DEA, US Customs, and FBI. A little scary.
Bryan Cobb
Sport Pilot CFI
Commercial/Instrument Airplane
Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter
Cartersville, Ga
bryandcobb@att.net

Jack Tyler
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Re: Ramp Check

Postby Jack Tyler » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:20 am

Jim's summary is a good reminder of info we should keep in mind if we experience a ramp check...but I don't think the ultimate recommendation fits the likely circumstances. (The recommended reading in the posted link better describes the likely circumstances, IMO.)

A ramp check is likely to occur in one of two settings: you will either be with your plane while parked on the ramp or while at your open hangar. In the first setting and after you are approached by the inspector, it's unlikely you can just say 'gotta meet my wife...' and walk off. In fact, that might be viewed as a non-compliant attitude. And if at my hangar, I wouldn't be keen on trying to walk away while leaving him access to walk around the hangar and get into the plane. I think the advice in the linked article better describes a 'real world' approach to dealing with a ramp check. I'd boil it down to:
-- be respectful
-- be sure you understand the 'who, what & why' of the person approaching you before answering Q's
-- don't volunteer any info (verbally or in logbook form) other than what is required by the regs
Jack
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designrs
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Re: Ramp Check

Postby designrs » Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:43 pm

Following the disclaimer that I have no personal experience with FAA checks: I would imagine that attitude goes a long way as well. Some things might be very similar to talking with a police officer at a traffic stop.

1) wave and pull well aside of traffic, motor off, windows down, interior lights on, hands on the steering wheel ... "HELLO OFFICER (inspector)"
2) may i see your documents? "OF COURSE! My driver's license is in my wallet... MAY I GET IT?"
3) "the other documents are in the console... MAY I GET THEM?"
4) no self incrimination "gee I'm not sure"
5) do you know that you were (violation) "Ohhhh?"
6) have you ever had any previous violations "of course not" (if true)
7) wait here while I check my computer "Thank you officer"

Even if the officer is a screaming obnoxious idiot and hands you a summons ... "Thank you officer"

Of course, I'm not suggesting to be completely compliant with any request that is not mandatory or could be self-incriminating. You could still politely refuse. The point is to project a really good, respectful, law-abiding attitude.

Enforcement officers & officials deal with rude idiots every day who question their authority. They often have a lot of personal discretion on who to prosecute or not. A good attitude costs nothing and goes a long way.

nbjeeptj
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Re: Ramp Check

Postby nbjeeptj » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:44 am

There have been several sugestions that handing over your log book to a FAA inspector would be a bad idea, but for a sport pilot it is nessary so you have the endorsment for airplane over 87kts. Does a copy of that page satisify that requirment? Also I am sure it has been answered before, but does foreflight or a current map on a Ifly 720 cover the requirment for a current Sectional and airport directory?

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drseti
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Re: Ramp Check

Postby drseti » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:03 am

nbjeeptj wrote:Does a copy of that page satisify that requirment?


Yes. In fact, many CFIs are now providing endorsement cards for the pilot to carry in his or her wallet. These must, of course, contain the language specified in the FARs, and be properly signed, but can cover the requirements for speed and airspace endorsements, as well as additional categories and classes of aircraft.

does foreflight or a current map on a Ifly 720 cover the requirment for a current Sectional and airport directory?


Again, yes, if you're operating under FAR Part 91, and the software being used is (a) current, and (b) complies with the requirements for an Electronic Flight Bag listed in FAA AC91-87. That document can be found here: http://avsport.org/docs/ac/AC91-78.pdf
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
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designrs
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Re: Ramp Check

Postby designrs » Thu Oct 18, 2012 3:01 pm

So could one take their checkride with a ForeFlight current chart, and a current digital copy of the AIM on an iPad?

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drseti
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Re: Ramp Check

Postby drseti » Thu Oct 18, 2012 3:12 pm

Absolutely, Richard, although there's no reason why the DPE couldn't whip out a paper chart and plotter, and say "here, show me" such-and-such. So, the applicant had better have learned those skills.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
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FrankR
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Re: Ramp Check

Postby FrankR » Thu Oct 18, 2012 3:35 pm

Had a friend who showed up with an electronic E6B. The DPE pulled the batteries out and said, "Your batteries just died. Now what?" He pulled a second set of batteries out of his pocket. He passed.

I think if you show up to a checkride with anything electronic, you better have a paper backup available.

In fact, many CFIs are now providing endorsement cards for the pilot to carry in his or her wallet.


I understand that we are supposed to have our endorsements with us and available. The card is a great idea. What to do about the 3 takeoffs and landings?
Frank
Fayetteville, NC

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drseti
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Re: Ramp Check

Postby drseti » Thu Oct 18, 2012 4:56 pm

FrankR wrote:What to do about the 3 takeoffs and landings?


Good question, Frank! Since those don't require an instructor's endorsement, I would think the PIC can do anything he or she wants to document those. Sticky note on the instrument panel, anyone?
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHV
fly@AvSport.org
AvSport.org
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3Dreaming
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Re: Ramp Check

Postby 3Dreaming » Fri Oct 19, 2012 5:35 pm

FrankR wrote: What to do about the 3 takeoffs and landings?


It is not required that you carry documentation of the 3 take offs and landings only that you must be able to produce it within a reasonable amount of time if needed. Private pilots have to do these as well, but do not need to carry any of the endorsements.


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