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Is the PIC still responsible for everything when they leave the plane and a co-pilot is staying on board? Are there differences between operational reasons for leaving the plane (doing the walk-around) vs private ones (going to grab a snack in the airport during a layover)? Does the PIC have to specify someone to be responsible for the plane while they’re gone?

If there is no international rule but airlines have rules in their SOP, what are those rules generally?

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    $\begingroup$ If you aren't controlling the aircraft, PIC doesn't really have any meaning at all. There is no reason to identify anybody as PIC if you aren't taxiing, flying, or about to push back... So I think you are asking who has legal responsibility for the aircraft while it is parked? That is much different than PIC. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jul 7 '18 at 17:12
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    $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer A potential situation: captain is outside doing a walk-around while boarding and smoke comes into the plane causing a passenger evacuation. What's the captain's responsibility in this case? I'd imagine it would be similar to the case where the captain is sleeping in the back and something goes wrong. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Jul 7 '18 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ @user71659 That doesn't have anything to do with PIC though, and I don't know of any airline that doesn't have at least one pilot on board at all times while passengers are aboard. Captain and PIC are two very different things. A captain can't be PIC and be "sleeping in the back" at the same time. The problem is that the question supposes that a pilot must be responsible for an aircraft at all times, which isn't the case, for example if an empty plane is being towed and has an accident, no pilot could be held responsible... $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jul 8 '18 at 4:44
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer "A captain can't be PIC and be "sleeping in the back" at the same time." Incorrect. The PIC remains the PIC even if they are on a rest break or in the bathroom (and can log all this time). There was a related question. You're asking a different question as well. "Is there a PIC all the time in an airplane? No (towing)" is a different question from "Can a PIC be held responsible for something that occurs while they are outside?" $\endgroup$ – user71659 Jul 8 '18 at 6:24

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