If your car breaks down while you are driving it, you can simply call for roadside assistance and wait for them to show up. Even if the engine quits, all you need to do is coast to the side of the road and park on the shoulder until you get towed to the shop. With airplanes on the other hand, mechanical, electrical, and component failures have the potential to be much more catastrophic. There is no breakdown lane to wait in when your propeller stops turning at 10,000 feet. Avoiding the problem in the first place is critically important, and one way to do that is with aircraft inspections.
Imagine you’re a freshly minted commercial pilot. Congratulations! One thing on the mind of many newly certified commercial pilots is, “How can I use this new certificate to earn some money?”
A ramp check, or ramp inspection as the FAA officially refers to it as, is something many pilots dread. Of course, we all need to remember that flying is a privilege, not a right, so you can be questioned by authorities within reason. Most inspectors won’t harass you or draw out the inspection. A standard ramp check should be relatively quick and straightforward.
You can’t fly an aircraft that’s not airworthy — it’s the law. This rather black-and-white statement about safe aviation makes sense. But, in reality, the world is not black-and-white. Situations arise that may require you to move a plane that does not meet the legal definition for airworthy.
Innovation, incidents and ideas come at us quickly in today’s aviation community. We need to be flexible and look at old ways of operating from a different perspective. This requires acceptance of change, which the FAA knows we all love. So they shake things up just when we thought it was safe to go back in the air.