Required checks:
What's needed for an Experimental to Pass
an FAA Ramp Check?

by Brendan O'Riordan, CFII A&P

About the Author:

Brendan O'Riordan attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where he attained his fyling ratings and graduated from Utah State University in Logan Utah, where he received his A&P. He has been flying since 1990 with about 2300 hours logged to date. He holds both a CFII as well as an MEI ( multi-engine instructor). As a mechanic he has worked on planes from as small as 152's up to C-97's, DC-3's, C-130's and a couple other big radial and turbine airplanes that are used as firebombers. Brendan is 28 years old and works at Velocity Inc. in Sebastian, Florida.

I see airplanes from time to time fly in that have not had the required inspections performed or are missing placards that are needed for the aircraft to be legal. Just to remind everybody what is required on our airplanes to be legal I will list inspections and when they need to be performed and a list of placards that are commonly overlooked.1. Logbook entry for Phase one flyoff.-The first thing we need to address with an experimental airplane is our phase one fly off period. When our phase one period is over we need to make sure the required log book entry is made so that we are legal to continue with phase two.

2. Condition Inspection -The next obvious inspection is our condition inspection. This is to be performed every 12 calendar months by either the designated repairman or by an A&P Mechanic.

3. ELT Batteries-ELT batteries must be changed when the transmitter is in use for more than one cumulative hour or when 50% of the batteries useful life has been exceeded.

4. VOR check-If your airplane is IFR equipped within the preceding 30 days the VOR equipment must be operationally check in accordance with FAR 91.171. Remember you should also maintain a record in the airplane of this. I have always used a small spiral notepad.

5. Pitot Static Check-Again for IFR flight your pitot/static system needs to be checked within the preceding 24 calendar months. There are also some commonly missed placards that people overlook that you need in your airplane to be legal.

1. Data Plates. This one seems like a "No- Brainer" but believe me, people forget them and inspectors overlook them. If you refer to section 9 in AC20-27D the data plate needs to be fireproof. It also needs to be mounted on the outside of the airplane near the tail and visible to a person standing on the ground.( FAR 45.11)

2. EXPERIMENTAL - The word Experimental needs to be in a place where it is visible to all passengers getting into the airplane. Minimum of 2" high letters. If you have two doors sticking this on one door and not on the other doesn't work. You need to get it on both or somewhere in the cabin where it is visible from both doors.

3. Passenger Warning- THIS AIRCRAFT IS AMATEUR-BUILT AND DOES NOT COMPLY WITH THE FEDERAL SAFETY REGULATIONS FOR STANDARD AIRCRAFT. This warning must be in full view of all passengers.

4. Compass card - This is the most common card to missing from airplanes, Experimental or Certified. You need to have a compass deviation card in the airplane, displayed on or near the compass.

5. AROW- Airworthiness, Registration, Operating Limitations and Weight and Balance. Your Airworthiness certificate needs to be displayed in full view of all passengers. Not buried in your logbook. Operating Limitations refers to the Phase one, Phase two operating limitations that Your DAR gave you when your airplane was signed off. Most pilots incorporate the Weight and Balance and their Pilot Operation Handbook into one using Velocity's POH filled in with their own weight and balance data. If you do this remember to put your N-number on the cover of the book.Remember that even though we are all flying Experimental aircraft we have to abide by the rules. Missing one of the above items could at the least ground the airplane if caught on an FAA ramp inspection. A pilot flying that airplane could also face suspensions of their licensee and even though you pay your insurance it could be null and void if your aircraft does not comply with these items.

So check your airplane out and keep up with those inspections.