How the ramp inspection works, and how it can ground a plane
Ramp inspections are done during the turnaround time between arrival and departure. These consist of 53 different items of inspection, which can include the manuals and equipment in the cockpit, the airworthiness of the aircraft, the stowed cargo, and even the pilots’ licenses.
.The checks can be highly detailed. Let’s see an example – one particular item on the checklist, with standard reference A8-IIIB-8.4, describes the emergency exits of an inspected aircraft, with no less than 6 items to consider including position of exits, markings and instructions for use, and configuration of seats.
.Because the turnaround time may not be very long, there may not be enough time to complete all 53 checks. Per EASA policy, ramp inspections generally do not delay an aircraft, except for safety purposes under certain conditions – including Category 2 and Category 3 findings, which represent significant and major findings respectively which may result in impaired safety of the aircraft. Appropriate corrective measures against such deficiencies must be taken before an inspected aircraft is authorized to resume its flight. Important fact! The captain of the inspected aircraft will be informed of the findings, and will be asked to address them. In rare cases, if the inspectors believe that the captain will not address the findings, they will formally ground the aircraft.
.In other cases, the aircraft may depart under operational restrictions. For example, in the earlier scenario, the plane was allowed to fly, as long as the seats with unsafe seatbelts were left unoccupied. Once the flight has been completed, the operator and aviation authorities in charge of the aircraft would be informed of the inspectors’ findings, so that they could fix the problems.
.Note that very important findings can actually result in a state temporarily revoking a deficient aircraft’s entry permit! This means that the plane can no longer land in that state, or even fly in its airspace, until the operator has shown that the deficiencies have been corrected.
Implementing aviation safety, and making sure that groundings are kept to a minimum
In many ways, safety is a bilateral agreement between authorities and airlines. It is the responsibility of aviation authorities to ensure that airlines adhere to Safety Policy, and that Safety Management Systems are deployed in these airlines. Meanwhile, it’s the responsibility of airlines to ensure that aircraft maintenance, pilot skills, and other pertinent points of safety are standards-compliant.