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Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Falsifying B35 Maintenance Records

Faces 5-Years in Federal Prison and $250,000 Fine

Ronald P. Franklin, 52, of Pearland, Texas has pleaded guilty to insinuating false statements into the maintenance log of an aircraft that subsequently suffered an in-flight power-loss and subsequent accident.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges that on or about 09 October 2020, after fraudulently representing himself as an Inspection Authorization (IA) holder, Franklin falsely claimed to have performed an annual inspection on the accident aircraft yet declared subject airplane airworthy.

According to a nebulously vague DOJ statement, the aircraft, a Beechcraft B35 Bonanza, was involved in the accident of record following the fraudulent 2020 annual inspection. The DOJ report neither identified the aircraft by registration number nor cited injures to its occupants. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) data comprises records of a B35 Bonanza gone down 03 April 2021 in the vicinity of Pearland. The NTSB set forth that subject accident resulted in no injuries.

Franklin, who is currently free on bond, is scheduled for sentencing on 24 May 2023 and faces up to five-years imprisonment in a federal institution as well as a maximum fine of $250,000.

Franklin’s plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison.

The Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christian Latham and Jay Hileman.

The seriousness of aircraft maintenance is evinced by the fact that the FAA requires all scheduled (Part 121) and non-scheduled (Part 135) air-carrier certificate holders to designate a qualified Director of Maintenance whose principal functions are to ensure the entirety of the certificate holder’s aircraft are maintained in accordance with applicable provisions—as dictated by the aircraft’s respective OEMs, Federal Aviation Regulation, and the certificate holder’s Operations Specifications—and to act as a liaison between the air-carrier and the certificate holder’s FAA-designated Principal Maintenance Inspector (PMI) for purpose ensuring all company aircraft are maintained after a proper and timely fashion.


Though regulated with less scrutiny than their Part 121 or Part 135 counterparts, Part 91 aircraft are nonetheless required to  undergo comprehensive annual inspections in addition to OEM-designated engine and component-specific inspections. Inspection intervals are contingent upon the natures of individual aircraft components and edicts laid down by the manufacturers of such, and are predicated upon either aircraft operational hours or calendar dates.

Within the context of regulatory compliance, the omission of an aircraft annual inspection and the falsification of maintenance records pertaining to such are the equivalents of mortal sins—the sort sins that land unscrupulous sorts in federal prison for half-decade stretches and occasion financial penance to the tune of a quarter-million-dollars.

FMI: www.faa.gov


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