My friend recently got ramp checked by the FAA over at Falcon Field, and found that he was out of compliance with several things. What can I expect if I am ever ramp checked?

The Federal Aviation Administration has a bad reputation of trying to make pilots’ and aircraft owners’ lives miserable for the sake of misery. While most people are seldom overjoyed to see an FAA inspector out on their ramp, it is important to remember one thing: the FAA wants to keep you safe. Making sure that you are compliant is mostly to ensure that you and your aircraft are not a risk to anyone or anything.


Generally speaking, a ramp check is a fairly quick and painless process for a pilot who does not operate commercially. The inspector is basically “checking” two entities, you and your plane. The inspector will want to be sure that you have the following items with you:


  • Your airman certificate;
  • Your medical certificate;
  • Government-issued photo ID, and
  • If you are a student pilot, your logbook and proper endorsements.


As far as the plane goes, remember back to your early piloting days with endless acronyms and memory aids for everything, like ARROW? That is precisely what the inspector will look for, with the addition of a few other things:


  • Airworthiness certificate;
  • Aircraft registration;
  • Operating handbook/flight manual;
  • Weight and balance information;
  • Current TAC and sectional charts for your route of flight, and
  • Current AFD


Having all of your required items is not the only thing you need for a successful ramp check—you will also need a good attitude. Many pilots see an FAA inspector and immediately go on the defense, creating more tension and problems than necessary. Remember, the end goal is to make sure that you are contributing to and part of a safe aviation environment.


If you are facing an enforcement action following a ramp check and do not agree with the inspector’s findings, talk to a Phoenix aviation attorney from Curry, Pearson & Wooten today at 602-258-1000 to find out what your next move should be.