Safety topic from Episode 7

Ramp checks

We need to get one thing straight here – it’s not the firing squad that’s making its way across the tarmac towards you. They’re not weapons he’s carrying; it’s probably a clip board and a pen. And the person at the end of the pen is a CASA Flying Operations Inspector (FOI) who may just be a really nice guy who scored an eagle on the back nine yesterday and is feeling pretty happy with the world. Believe me, he wants to let you get on with your flight just as much as you do, so let’s get acquainted with what’s going to keep him smiling today.

The success of your ramp check is not going to rely on luck, nor indeed the mood of the inspector. If you read up on what’s involved, you can always be prepared. There are no secrets to catch you out either; the process is well documented. For a thorough rundown on what’s expected of you and your aircraft during a ramp check, go straight to the source and find out what CASA has to say.  Here’s the gist of it:

I’m a GA pilot and have been selected by a CASA inspector for a ramp check. What happens now?

The inspector will ask you for your CASA pilot licensing documents:

  • Flight crew licence (FCL) – you must carry your current licence and photographic ID. Paper or electronic copy of licence is acceptable. 
  • Aviation medical certificate – you must carry your current aviation medical certificate. You must be compliant with any restrictions or endorsements (e.g. the wearing of corrective lenses). Paper or electronic copy of medical certificate is acceptable. 

The inspector will then check your preparation for your flight:

  • Have you maintained a navigation/fuel log? 
  • Have you made a careful study of forecast weather and applicable NOTAMs?
  • Are you compliant with CASA flight time limitations (as applicable)? 
  • Are you carrying the appropriate current charts and documents? Are they easily accessible by the crew?
  • Are you using an EFB for your charts and documents? There are considerations for commercial versus private operations.
  • Have you complied with the aircraft weight and balance requirements? 
  • Have you submitted a flight plan (if required by AIP)? 
  • Are you compliant with the requirements to wear a life jacket for flights over water in single engine aircraft?

Finally, the inspector will check your aircraft, including the Flight Manual and Maintenance Release. If an Airworthiness Inspector is accompanying the FOI a general inspection of the aircraft may be performed to ensure there are no obvious defects.

If you’re doing things by the book, a ramp check should not prove to be any concern. But we’re all human, and things may be overlooked if circumstances step in to unfurl the perfect planning scenario. So, if it’s been a while since you’ve had anything to do with CASA, ask yourself the questions: “Have I become complacent? Am I flying and planning to the rules?” Even pointers like making sure you’ve renewed the registration of your personal locator beacon are important.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re off for an hour of circuits, a month-long air safari, or just nipping across to the next property to visit the brother-in-law; you need to be complying with CASA’s requirements. They’re there for a reason, and that’s your safety.  Just because it hasn’t happened to you yet, doesn’t mean you’re not going to get ramp checked. 

Check out the video link below, and if you have any queries, contact a Flying Operations Inspector at your local regional office.