52-year-old man pleads guilty to falsifying aircraft inspection on plane that crashed in Pearland


HOUSTON – A 52-year-old Pearland man pleaded guilty to making false statements in an aircraft maintenance log, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani on Wednesday.

Ronald P. Franklin admitted that on or about Oct. 9, 2020, he knowingly and willfully falsified an aircraft’s annual inspection records. Franklin had fraudulently represented himself as an Inspection Authorization (IA) holder and falsely certified he performed an annual inspection on an aircraft and determined it was in airworthy condition.

The aircraft subsequently experienced an in-flight power loss, which led to a crash.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates domestic aircraft and air travel and they require most U.S.-registered general aviation aircraft to undergo annual inspections to ensure they are airworthy which an FAA-certified mechanic must perform.

Following an annual inspection, FAA regulations require an IA holder to make an entry in the aircraft’s log book certifying the inspection was properly completed and that the furnished information is true and correct. IA holders must certify each annual inspection they perform using their unique FAA certificate number.

According to officials, Franklin was not an IA holder and did not perform the inspection as he falsely claimed.

U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison accepted the plea and will sentence Franklin on May 24. Franklin faces up to five years in federal prison as well as a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Franklin was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.

The Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christian Latham and Jay Hileman are prosecuting the case.

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