How To Manage Lost, Stolen, or Destroyed Logbooks for your Aircraft, By Ken Dufour, ASA, MAM, ATP, CFI and Jason Zilberbrand, ASA, CAA, ISA AM, AOA AM, MRAeS
Aircraft records that have been lost or destroyed are a highly debated subject with regards to the continued operation and the overall value of the aircraft. Some say that 30% to 50% of the value of an aircraft resides with the maintenance records. Whether this is accurate or not, they represent value and should be treated with care and respect their value and impact on your aircraft.
Occasionally, the records for an aircraft are lost or destroyed or even stolen. To reconstruct logs, it is necessary to establish the total time in service of the airframe. This can be done by reference to other records that reflect the time in service, research of records maintained by repair facilities, and reference to records maintained by individual technicians, etc. When these things have been done, and the record is still incomplete, the owner/operator may make a notarized statement in the new record describing the loss and establishing the time in service based on the research and the best estimate of time in service. There are several resources available to assist in the recreation of records depending on the equipment type. Piston aircraft, mainly older airframes, may be more difficult to recreate due to the nature of the maintenance.
On the other hand, a turboprop or jet aircraft may have digital maintenance tracking like CAMP. If that is the case, then the recreation of missing records may be reasonably accessible. Keep in mind that service facilities, MRO's and A&P's are not required to keep records long term, so do not depend on them helping if the records missing are older than two years.
While not all missing records are the proverbial "kiss of death" in terms of overall value, there are some things you should know. An aircraft with missing records will be nearly impossible to finance. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to import or export from one country or registry to another. Remember, you are the custodian of the aircraft for a short period, and it is your job to protect the integrity of the pedigree for the next owner. If you are facing missing records, it is imperative that you document everything you can so that as time passes, you can easily pass on that information to the next owner.
The current status of applicable ADs (Airworthiness Directives) may present a more challenging problem. This may require a detailed inspection by maintenance personnel to establish that the relevant ADs have been completed. It can readily be seen that this could entail considerable time, expense, and in some instances, might require the AD being performed again to establish compliance.
Other items required by section 14 CFR 91.417(a)(2), such as the current status of life-limited parts, time since the last overhaul, current inspection status, and current list of significant alterations, may present difficult problems. Some items may be easier to reestablish than others, but all are problems. Losing maintenance records can be troublesome, costly, and time consuming. Safekeeping of the records is an integral part of a sound recordkeeping system.
The good news is there are resources available, and you need to take advantage of modern tools to protect your asset. VREF partnered with Coflyt to bring some tools to piston aircraft operators that the turbine owners have enjoyed for decades. You can easily record maintenance, AD's, SB's, and track recurrent maintenance easily. It is such a useful tool for multi-owner aircraft that it makes one wonder how partners truly manage these issues without help. Another super helpful tool is the VREF Vault. The Vault is a dropbox encrypted on the blockchain explicitly built for logbooks and records. You will accomplish several things by enrolling your aircraft on the Vault. One, your documents will never get stolen or lost ever again, and that means your aircraft RETAINS its value. Two, anyone who needs to actively manage the plane can have real-time reporting and access to your logs. Your bank, insurance agent, maintenance provider will all see an organized back to the birth set of records. Three, because the Vault is the only blockchain encrypted logbook storage available, it means your data is secure, more so than any other means of storing your valuable information.
If you want to learn more about anything we discussed in this article, please watch our Webinar on the topic:
If you would like to discuss the Vault, or if you need an appraisal, please contact Jason Zilberbrand, ASA, CAA, ISA AM, AOA AM, MRAeS Jason@VREF.com
Additional guidance can be reviewed in FAA Advisory Circular AC-43-9C, Chg-2, dated May 8, 2018
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