By Jason Zilberbrand, ASA, CAA, ISA AM, AOA AM, MRAeS

Do you realize how vital aircraft logbooks can genuinely be?

Not only does an aircraft logbook track and record essential maintenance, but it can also affect the price of your aircraft. Should you decide to sell later on, a missing logbook could knock off a huge chunk of profit you may have seen otherwise or force the buyer to walk away.

Are you following aircraft logbook best practices?

Read on for some of the most common questions about understanding aircraft logbook best practices.

Understanding Aircraft Logbook Best Practices

More seasoned aircraft owners may understand the importance of aircraft logbooks. For those who still have some questions, we’ll go over what it is, why it matters, and how not to confuse an aircraft logbook with a pilot logbook.

What Is a Logbook and Why Does It Matter?

Also called “aircraft maintenance records,” aircraft logbooks serve as your only written record of maintenance performed on your aircraft. In other words, if a service benefits your aircraft but is not recorded in your logbook, it never happened.

Equally important to having a written record, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that you keep up with a logbook to show “compliance with the general aviation maintenance record-making and record-keeping requirements of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 43 and 91.”

What Is the FAA?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the United States governing body that regulates the manufacturing, maintaining, and operating of aircraft.

Looking back at aviation’s history, some of the earliest flights had practically no safety regulations in place. Because of this, fatal incidents like the 1981 Fokker F-10, 1956 Trans World Airlines Super Constellation, and United Airlines DC-7 collision occurred without much interference.

The FAA did not start overnight and went through several phases before becoming part of the federal administration. Since 1967, the FAA has helped prevent air travel incidents and improve pilots’, aircraft employees’, and passengers’ safety.

What Is the Difference Between a Pilot Logbook and an Aircraft Logbook?

An aircraft logbook will lay out any of the following:

  • Overall condition
  • Previous maintenance services
  • Incidents
  • Certifications
  • Repairs
  • Inspections
  • Time on the airframe
  • Other parts and accessories
  • FAA compliance

All of this information makes an aircraft’s logbook valuable to have and will be necessary for years to come even after ownership has changed hands.

A pilot’s logbook is different from that of an aircraft logbook. It is mainly for personal use to showcase flight time (needed for pilot ratings), instrument proficiency check (IPC), certifications, and flight information. Depending on the pilot’s level of experience, each logbook may not look the same.

How Do You Keep a Logbook?

The FAA sets out a general idea of what it prefers regarding how aircraft logbooks should look. According to their mock logbook sheet, they have a suggested format of listing the following in this order across the top of the page with boxes to fill in underneath:

  • AD number and amendment number
  • Date received
  • Subject
  • Compliance due date hours/other
  • Date of compliance
  • Airframe total time in service at compliance
  • The method used to comply with the ad
  • One time or recurring
  • Next compliance due date hours/other
  • An authorized signature, certificate, type, and number
  • Remarks

Assuming there are no extreme incidents, you are more likely to prove your aircraft’s condition and justify its selling price by having this information handy.

How Long Should You Keep A Logbook?

As an aircraft owner, you are responsible for its logbooks and using them to record any relevant information to the aircraft.

Ideally, keep all information in one place permanently. However, there are a few items you can worry a little less about, according to the FAA. For example, the FAA says, “Section 91.417(b) requires records of maintenance, alterations, and required or approved inspections to be retained until the work is repeated, superseded by other work, or for one year.”

To summarize, keep an ongoing logbook for as long as you own the aircraft. Otherwise, follow the FAA’s guidelines for all other forms of record.

How Do I Keep Up With My Logbook?

There are a few ways you can store your aircraft’s logbook. Some people prefer a physical logbook to keep all of their information.

Most aircraft owners keep their logbooks in a lockbox or vault away from the plane for safekeeping. However, there are a few things you should look out for when relying on a physical logbook. This includes the chances of it getting lost, stolen, or permanently damaged.

You can also go digital with your logbook and keep its contents stored in the cloud using encrypted software (like VREF Vault). This way of storing information can be ideal as it is not likely to be lost, stolen, altered, or damaged.

You may choose to keep both a physical logbook and a digital copy if you wish.

Maintain Your Aircraft Logbook with VREF Vault

If you’ve ever had your logbook stolen or if you’ve ever misplaced it, then you know exactly how important it is to have a logbook process that you can rely on.

Introducing VREF Vault – you can think of it as your digital filing cabinet. By using VREF Vault, you can keep your logbook information safe, secure, and easily accessible. The VREF Vault utilizes the same blockchain encrypted technology as Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that’s taking over the world.

You can drag and drop photos and documents, enable limited access, track vendors, gain valuable insight, and so much more using the VREF Vault.

Sound like something you could use? Don’t waste another second leaving your aircraft logbook information exposed. Contact us and get all of the information you need to start using VREF Vault for your aircraft.