Aircraft Logbooks A Plane Owner s Guide

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2 Aircraft Logbooks A Plane Owner s Guide Author - Larry Hinebaugh, V-Log LLC Contributors - Brian Chase, Chase Aircraft Brokerage Edward Wetzel, Aviation Maintenance Support 2

3 Images Dreamstime, istockphoto and Creative Commons Editing Katherine Creedy Production Aviation Marketing by ABCI 3

4 Copyright 2016 by V-Log LLC All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher. Second Edition 2016 V-Log SE 64 th Place Suite 2039 Issaquah, WA This book is also available in paperback and Kindle format from Special discounts available for brokers and other qualified individuals who wish to use this book to promote good logbook practices within the industry. Contact V-Log at for more information. 4

5 About This Publication What you need to know about aircraft logbooks! How Not To Lose 30% of your Aircraft s Value In One Fell Swoop! You are the owner of your very own aircraft. You bought it because you like a sense of control. You bought it because it provides you with the flexibility you need to get the job done or the freedom to head out on your aerial adventures. It s pretty cool and you take pride in keeping it in top condition, carefully babying it through its maintenance and airworthiness programs to ensure safe and efficient operations. After all, it is one of your biggest investments and lives could be at stake. Like your house, you not only want to ensure its safety but you want to maintain its resale value or at least make your aircraft the most competitive in the marketplace. Few owners, however, know they could lose 30% of the value of their aircraft in one fell swoop and all of a sudden your sense of control isn t so complete and that s enough to keep you up at night. How could that happen? Because owners take logbooks for granted, rarely giving this important documentation a second thought and blithely assuming that they will always be there. 5

6 This publication will provide the basic information you need to make smart decisions that impact the safety and operational readiness of your aircraft, as well as its resale value. It is important to understand most aircraft maintenance technicians see updating the aircraft s history at the very least, bothersome; and to some; a full blown evil, so it is up to you to know what needs to be done to keep logbooks current. New tools are available to make this less burdensome to the maintenance technician. After spending a few minutes reading this brief guide, you will be able to confidently and intelligently make the best decisions for your circumstances in conjunction with your flight crew, your director of maintenance and other service providers. But be clear. The freedom and flexibility of ownership comes with a responsibility that is yours alone and key to that effort is the proper care and feeding of your aircraft documentation. It s your aircraft after all and this is all about protecting your investment and keeping you safe. What you will learn: Logbooks are only the beginning of the search for the value of an aircraft There is no such thing as a do-it-yourself logbook review How to hire a pro to evaluate your aircraft What they need to get the job done What to look for in an excellent logbook The proper care and feeding of the logbook And, perhaps the most important lesson back up, back up, back up! 6


8 Why are logbooks important? Many an aircraft owner has found out too late the importance of the logbooks, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars on a sale, duplicating expensive maintenance tasks because there are simply no records or spending tens of thousands in recreating this important, fragile documentation. The entire aircraft maintenance record, commonly referred to as The Logbooks are the documents that backup and support the statement of airworthiness of an aircraft and its component parts. One missing document means the work must be performed again wasting both money and time the aircraft could otherwise be available. Aircraft Logbooks Other than the aircraft itself, it is the condition, organization and completeness of the maintenance records that has the most profound effect on the value and perceived airworthiness of the aircraft when an aircraft is bought or sold; or worse, involved in an incident or accident. They typically contain the age of the aircraft, its maintenance history, the total time on the aircraft when work was accomplished, major modifications accomplished since new, any damage to the aircraft, and any other information relative and important to understanding the history and Airworthiness of the aircraft. Top aircraft evaluators and financial institutions want to see well-organized, easily retrievable, protected maintenance records that provide the required evidence of the legal airworthiness of the aircraft. Why? Because it saves time and, as you know, time is money. Not only does it save time for the money people but good logbooks also save expensive time for maintenance technicians doing research on the history of the aircraft. 8

9 Case Study Rental Car Woes An aircraft owner wanted to sell his Falcon 50 and, as expected, the buyer wanted to see the logbooks prior to closing the deal. The flight crew reviewed the logs and dutifully ensured the safety of the logbooks until the pre-purchase inspection was complete. What better place to stow the logs than to keep them close at hand, in the trunk of their rental car? Unfortunately, the crew, done with their task, promptly forgot about the logbooks they had so safely stowed away, despite the fact they were responsible for this critical documentation. Job done, they headed back to the airport, turned their car in, boarded their flight and away they flew. You guessed it. They completely forgot to retrieve the logs from trunk. Desperate phone calls to the rental company ensued to no avail. The logbooks were gone for good and the task to recreate them was an excruciating struggle searching through repair station, OEM and FAA records. Despite best efforts, however, the owner, who had expected a high value for his aircraft, took a solid 30% financial hit on the sale. Never To Be Seen Again We all worry about disasters and cataclysms, but sometimes a mundane incident like returning a rental car can be just as much of a catastrophe for your aircraft value. 9

10 Expert Advice: How Logbooks Impact Resale Value An Aircraft Broker Speaks about Logbooks and Aircraft Resale Value The fact of the matter is we know it is likely that the work was actually done but if it can t be proved with documentation, such assertions are useless. As an appraiser, we then ask if a reputable repair station did the work and, if so, can we track the records through that company. Failing that, we have to check FAA records. The bottom line is all this is costly time wasting, which puts the value of an aircraft in jeopardy. By Brian Chase, Chase Aircraft Brokerage A question we get all the time is what kind of price hit do I have to take because I m missing logbooks prior to X? The answer is, it depends on the individual circumstances but there is no question owners will take some sort of hit. But there is one rule of thumb that applies across the board and that is the less complete the logbook the more of a hit the owner will take. We go by one rule of law If it s not in the logbook it didn t happen. 10

11 .Aircraft A: Aircraft B: Aircraft C: An early 80 s twin-engine piston aircraft doesn t have any logbooks prior to 2000, although since then there is good record keeping and a clear pattern of excellent maintenance standards. However, the engines are remanufactured and were installed in Engines are 80% of the value and the engine logbooks are complete. But the discrepancy calls into question whether there is damage history and that s why the logs are missing. So we turn to the FAA records to find 337 s for Major Repairs or Alterations or any other notations of damage. We prove that the aircraft does NOT have damage history. At this point, most buyers say okay, nice plane, I ll keep looking. A late 70 s vintage piston aircraft. All logbooks and records are complete since new. While they ve yellowed and are handwritten by A&P s that have probably slipped the surly bonds of earth forever, they are good. However, in the case of this aircraft, no log entries for anything nefarious are found. No aircraft is every that perfect. So we turn to the FAA records and here too, nothing bad, just 337 s for field installs and STC s for that super nice Garmin blah, blah, blah. In looking at the chain of history and all the Bills of Sale and surrendered Aircraft Registrations though, one of them has a different checkbox signaling the aircraft has been totally destroyed or scrapped. There is no record of damage other than this. After a mea culpa to the FAA and an acknowledgement by the IA that s been working on it for years, the mystery is solved but the owner took a big hit and someone got a great deal! A mid-2000 s turbine helicopter. There is a record of great maintenance. Components have low times. The price is good price. Overall, it s an attractive aircraft. Perhaps. Before spending money on a pre-buy inspection though, we go to take a look at the ship and make sure that it is as represented and the logbooks are at least present. Come to find out, the original logbooks from the factory were missing and the new ones were missing hours total. What could possibly go wrong in 100hrs, right? Probably nothing, there is just no record of the 50-hr inspection and yet again there is a discrepancy that makes buyers uncomfortable. Why buy this one when the one down the street has complete logs? 11

12 These are three examples amongst dozens experienced across my career. While we look at logbooks to check for continuity and any major issues, we are NOT licensed maintenance personnel. So, there is one more lesson to learn. If there is one message that I would like to convey to the aircraft buying community it is to pay for a qualified A&P, IA, or repair station to review logbooks during a pre-purchase inspection. Do not do your own log reviews. Hire a neutral professional to help ensure you know what you are buying. Damage history is not necessarily a deal killer but it does reduce the amount of people that will buy an aircraft and a deeply discounted price. Hiring a professional will to tell you how much! For me, great logbooks are not handwritten but typed, in the original factory logbooks and signed off legibly by an A&P or IA. If you have multiple logbooks, clearly label the outside of each of them with the dates of information they contain. I would also encourage you to make electronic copies of entire aircraft record with a product such as V-Log. Then you have a complete backup of the paper logbooks. You can also easily send them to a prospective buyer for an off-site review. Doing so will not only save you money but could end up making your aircraft worth more than you thought. Brian Chase and the Next Generation of Aviation 12

13 Case Study Repo Team Outsmarted! Hollywood loves a good drama with plenty of cliff hanging moments and that is exactly what happened on Discovery Channel s Airplane Repo. The repo team thought they outsmarted the recalcitrant owner when they moved the Citation III from the ramp to a hangar under their control. The drama built, however, when the team devoted a large portion of the show in search of the logbooks. Finally, the logbooks were found and stowed on the back seat of their car. Enter the aircraft owner for the confrontation scene. He was naturally upset to find his aircraft repossessed and demanded it back. At this point one would expect the repo team to thumb their nose at the deadbeat owner and close the hangar doors. Not so fast. During the high drama between owner and repo team, the owner noticed the logbooks sitting in the car and promptly removed them while yelling the aircraft was worthless without them. A chase scene ensued. Meanwhile, the owner slipped back to the airport, retrieved the aircraft, securing it in another hangar. The value of the aircraft was $3 million with a 10% commission to the repo team. The show also noted that the logbooks were 30% of the value $1M. Without the logbooks, the commission was reduced by $100K. But wait there s more. Aircraft owner 1, Repo Team Zip. They were out their entire $300,000 commission for failing to lock their car. Worthless without the logbooks Aircraft Owner = 1 Repo Team = Zip! For simply failing to lock their car! 13

14 Expert Advice: Lessees are Liable for Missing Records By Edward Wetzel, President Aviation Maintenance Support, Inc. Aircraft records and documentation are the lynchpin of the aircraft value making the responsibilities lessees face of paramount importance lest they face high, unplanned costs at the return or sale of the aircraft. Lessees is responsible for the care, custody and control of all documentation transferred to them at the onset of the lease. They are also responsible for updating of any maintenance logbooks, documentation and manuals used in the maintenance of the aircraft during the lease period. Missing documentation is particularly grave for the person who was last responsible for the maintenance records. The fact is logbooks are taken for granted simply because they may only reach the level of lifeand-death importance a few times in the life of an aircraft during a pre-purchase Inspection at the time of sale of the aircraft, at return to the bank at the end of a lease, or during an FAA audit or during a conformity inspection for FAR Part 135 compliance. Despite the importance of logbooks and other aircraft documentation, our company has seen too many cavalier attitudes about logbooks, to assume that owners and operators know what needs to be done to ensure proper treatment of these valuable documents. In fact, our biggest problem is the fact owners and operators don t know what is needed. Missing maintenance documents and records diminish the value of the aircraft to the buyer and increase the cost of the transaction to the seller. Missing documentation at the end of a lease will be costly to the lessee because those records must be painstakingly reconstructed. Think about what is involved in the history of an aircraft. There are inspections, component certifications, engineering data, burn certifications, Airworthiness Directive and Service Bulletin compliance, none of which can be recreated without substantiating evidence. That becomes even more if the Certified Repair Station is unknown, out of business or has destroyed the records. Remember such records are only kept a minimum of two years under requirements of 14 CFR , an excruciatingly short time in the life of an aircraft. If a log entry references a Work Order for details of what work was completed, the operator must ensure a copy of that work order is maintained in the historical records. Our consistent advice to operators is to keep separate files of currently installed Time Controlled Component documents, Burn Certifications for interior materials and any Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA) referenced on Major Repairs & Alterations Form 337. The operator must make sure that all requirements of the ICAs are included in the aircraft inspection program and appropriately tracked. An operator should also ensure all Time Controlled Component certification documents are scanned into the aircraft s computerized maintenance tracking program. One of the largest advances in logbook care has been the development of electronic document storage, which not only provides an easier way to retrieve many archived documents, but provides a secure platform for the vast history of an aircraft. Without that, records over two years old 14

15 could be permanently lost. Still, there is more to the issue than computerized records. In the eyes of the FAA, computerized tracking records for Time Controlled Components or an Inspection function are not adequate if there are no certification documents to substantiate the event. Examples and resulting consequences of missing documentation we ve seen in our practices include: An unsubstantiated modification or repair resulting in another conformity inspection of the work to confirm it was performed per standard practices and approved data. This could include rework of the modification or repair. An incomplete burn certification resulting in a requirement to re-perform the burn test of materials, if possible. It could also require seats to be recovered or the replacement of fabrics and woodwork. A missing inspection entry resulting in the requirement to re-comply with an entire inspection. A missing component certification requiring the replacement of the affected component. Missing component documents could also result in the denial of a warranty claim. A missing Instruction for Continued Airworthiness (ICA) resulting in a conclusion the Inspection Program requirements were not complete and a suggestion that inspection requirements may be over due. Depending on the circumstances, the consequence of reckless logbook documentation is always costly for the owner or lessee. In addition it may diminish the interest of a buyer and could tarnish the reputation of a good flight department. Missing documentation may even kill a sales transaction. Remember the Aircraft Flight Manual While technically not considered maintenance documents or records, some Aircraft Flight Manual (AFM) Supplements are linked to modifications recorded on Major Repair & Alteration Form 337s. All the AFM Supplements referenced on any form 337 must be included in the AFM Supplement file. This file may be the last section in the AFM or may be held in a separate binder kept onboard the aircraft. These Supplements must be guarded and protected. An AFM Supplement for an old STC may be very difficult, if not impossible to find. The AFM Supplement is part of the overall legal documentation of a system modification and its operation. A system or its modification is not complete and airworthy if a required AFM Supplement is missing. If an AFM Supplement is discovered missing during an FAA ramp inspection, the Captain and the Operator could face a violation and the airworthiness of the aircraft could 15

16 come into question. In addition to an index for the Form 337 file, an operator should maintain an index of all AFM Supplements referenced on the 337s. This will allow for easy periodic audits of the AFM by the Operator. And remember, if a system is modified or removed from the aircraft you must also remove any associated Supplement from the AFM if it is no longer applicable. Final Advice Always be prepared for the sale, end of lease evaluation or an FAA audit of your aircraft and records. Don t pay twice for a part or inspection you already paid for. It is always harder to mine and produce information when you are under the pressure of an audit or conformity inspection. Well-organized records allow for quick, easy access to critical information, will impresses the FAA with the professionalism of your operation and will contribute to the overall perception of the value of the aircraft. To the extent it is reasonably possible, electronically back up aircraft historical maintenance records and documents. When accomplished using the latest generation of storage programs, you will not only have provided protection for the records, you will also have the ability to securely access these records for reference from any computer in the world. An ounce of prevention can save a pound of cure. Historical maintenance records not only substantiate the legal airworthiness of the aircraft, they support the market value of the aircraft. Make sure you protect the investment by having all historical information organized and easily retrievable on demand. 16

17 Case Study Counting the Cost After being based in Hong Kong for two years, a Gulfstream G450 was being returned to its leasing company. However, it was missing its airframe logbook. Good news: The OEM was able to restore about 80% of the logbook from its files and help from the operator. But, the effort cost the leasing company $90,000. The leasing then sued the lessee! Most aircraft owners don t want to know how much it would cost to restore the logbooks but this gives you an idea of the effort and money involved. How Much Would it Cost To re-create the contents of your logbooks? Most aircraft owners would prefer never to need to know the answer to that question. 17

18 Case Study The Missing 8130 During a pre-purchase inspection of a $50 million Global 6000, inspectors noted an 8130 for a recently replaced Nose Wheel Steering unit (NWS) was missing. Since the NWS unit is a timecontrolled item, the buyer required replacement to establish known times and cycles. The missing 8130 ended up costing the seller an additional $30,000 to sell the airplane. Lesson learned: Unless you have the paperwork to prove it, regulators and buyers assume that a repair or replacement never took place. It Didn t Happen... Unless you have the paperwork to prove it, regulators assume that a repair or replacement never took place. 18

19 The Logbooks were Just Gone.... Why Failing to Back Up Your Logbooks is Worse than Failing to Back up your Computer By Kathryn B. Creedy The logs were just gone, Maintenance Analyst Nicole Vidis said of a Prime Jet Gulfstream GV when she discovered a yearslong gap in its record. We were missing huge amounts of data and knew work had been done because computerized tracking indicated it had. But there was no way to prove it. We were panicking, thinking we d have to redo all the work, about the cost of parts, the labor and the downtime on the aircraft required to bring the aircraft into conformity. Similar situations happen all the time in the aviation industry simply because aircraft owners, leasing companies, chief pilots and aircraft managers put their aircraft at risk by relying on a single-source document to measure the value of an extremely expensive asset. to back up entire systems in order to keep them secure and readily accessible. It is considered part of IT best practices. This, unfortunately, is not so for one of the most vital records in the aviation industry. Aircraft logbooks remain one of the few critical items that are not digital despite the fact that these fragile documents deteriorate each time they are handled. Aircraft will likely be subject to legal requirements to maintain paper logbooks for the foreseeable future, but that does not mean the logbook cannot be brought into the 21 st Century. That is exactly what V-Log, a software-based company, has done by creating an aircraft digital records management tool. It is a given in today s digital world that it is vital to back up your computer, but few in the aviation industry, however, understand the importance of backing up aircraft logbooks or that 30% of the value of an aircraft could be lost if the logs are damaged or destroyed. Indeed, relying on paper for the flight and maintenance information accumulated over the life of the aircraft seems an anachronism at a time when aircraft operators are adopting digital technology for flight manuals, navigation charts and maintenance manuals. In fact, it is an extremely antiquated practice given that businesses have long turned to the cloud 19

20 The vulnerability surrounding logbooks is what inspired the development of V-Log, which puts logbooks and other priority documents in the cloud and makes them accessible from any computer anywhere 24/7/365. The exact electronic copy of the paper logbook not only makes it easy to ensure log entries are made, but the maintenance called for in a contract is actually being done properly. It also ensures the critical information in the logbook, is never lost. We wanted to do for aviation what Quickbooks did for accounting bring electronic recordkeeping to logbooks, said Founder Larry Hinebaugh. The goal was to ensure the safety of logbooks by putting them in the cloud. I d like to see the entire industry move to electronic logbooks, not just because it will boost business, but because it is the right thing to do. It is in everyone s best interest. As Vidis pointed out, one missing log entry or airworthiness tag can cost the aircraft owner thousands of dollars. The Prime Jet story had a happy ending. We discovered the aircraft had been V-Logged which was a huge relief, she said. We saved an incalculable amount of money just by being able to access the digitally scanned records stored in the cloud. But V-Log offers something more to those needing to access logbooks. It is searchable for any type of information, not just what may be in one logbook or another. V-Log reduces the time necessary to find specific references. Vidis is now a heavy user of V-Log, knowing she could never be as productive as she is in establishing conformity for the Gulfstream aircraft she examines. V-Log is the most comprehensive way to search through millions of pieces of paper, she said. Backing up records digitally works well for both owners and operators of aircraft and delivers a huge piece of mind to know they are retrievable in case the physical records are lost. For those working on aircraft conformity it saves an immense amount of time, not to mention a search through numerous boxes of physical records. All you have to do is punch in a code or even a partial description of a part and the entire relevant history pops up on the screen. Minimizing Risk One of the riskiest things an owner/operator can do is to allow the logbooks to leave the company s control. In fact, V-Log eliminates the need to review the paper logbooks to obtain the history of an aircraft at all. It eliminates the need to send these valuable resources to vendors or regulators or with the aircraft when it goes to an MRO facility. Those needing temporary access are given a user name and password. The process is simple. V-Log has the existing aircraft records scanned by a digital imaging company local to the operator or owner. The imaging company, however, must conform to V-Log s strict quality and security requirements. It then processes the electronic images into the Aircraft Digital Logbook (ADL) and places the newly created ADL on V- Log s secure cloud server. Updating is equally simple. Customer supplied images of logbook entries and supporting documentation are uploaded to the operator s V-Log account. V-Log then processes the images and updates the ADL with the new information. Aircraft owners can even reprint logbooks in their entirety, an important feature given the fact insurance does not cover the loss of logbooks. While the original concept was designed by Hinebaugh to ease his work as avia- 20

21 tion consultant working on aircraft valuation, the V-Log program was expanded to any one who works with aircraft logbooks. Importantly, Hinebaugh and his colleagues have maintenance backgrounds for product development. In addition to understanding the subject, they also know the regulations and what is needed to meet requirements for certification and continued airworthiness. In fact, the Federal Aviation Administration s Advisory Circular addressing electronic recordkeeping was part of V- Log s development. Their knowledge enabled them to translate highly complex, technical specifications into this new software-based tool that helps owners, operators, pilots, maintenance technicians and managers protect valuable assets. 21

22 Case Study Aircraft Scrapped After a heavy maintenance check, a Boeing 727, in VIP configuration, was undergoing high-power runs when the aircraft jumped the chocks and impaled itself nose-first into the side of a nearby hangar. Unfortunately, adjacent to where the aircraft s nose came to rest, was the inspection office with all the aircraft s logbooks neatly sitting on a broad table awaiting final sign off for the aircraft s return to service. When unfortunately, In puncturing the hangar, the aircraft took out the fire suppression pipe, spraying the entire inspection office with high-pressure water otherwise designed to put out a fire. The neatly arranged logbooks were instantly rendered useless. While the aircraft could be repaired, sadly, this was not the case for the logbooks. Given the value of the aircraft and the cost of reconstructing the logbooks, an otherwise healthy aircraft was rendered a total loss. Adding Insult to Injury In this case, the damage to the aircraft was minimal, but the damage to the logbooks was catastrophic. 22


24 Case Study A Lear 35 was purchased at auction without any logbooks rendering it unairworthy and destined to be scrapped for parts because the cost of restoring the logbooks exceeded the aircraft s value. Just before the aircraft was parted out, however, the new owner was contacted by a maintenance organization and was told that it not only had the logbooks but they would be turned over if the maintenance bill were satisfied. The new owner paid the bill and received the logbooks restoring the aircraft airworthiness status. Ransom? While the legality of holding the logbooks for ransom is questionable, it is common. Aircraft owners frequently prefer to pay rather than take legal action. 24

25 ORVILLE & WILBUR IN CHARGE BACKUPS JUST MAKE SENSE! Most of us protect our assets we safeguard our credit cards, lock up our valuables, hangar our aircraft, and even back up our photos and music files. Shouldn t we protect our valuable aircraft records as well? V-Log is Assurance that my flight department is caring for and protecting the aircraft s logbooks with the same diligence that they care for and protect the aircraft itself. - Jon Buccola Aircraft Owner Protect Your Investment 25


27 V-Log is a truly needed innovation in the aviation industry. What V-Log Provides: Asset Protection An aircraft s logbooks contain valuable history of the ongoing maintenance and Airworthiness of the aircraft. Missing or damaged logbook information from the paper record will greatly reduce the value of the aircraft (as much as 30% or more.) Disaster Recovery In the event your logbooks are damaged or destroyed, V-Log s electronic record can be used to reprint the logbooks in their entirety. Record Security Once the logbooks are backed-up in V-Log s Aircraft Digital Logbook, the information will never be lost or misplaced. See V-Log In Action! For a customized demo with an actual Aircraft Digital Logbook: Phone:

28 Larry Hinebaugh is the Founder of V- Log, LLC. Mr. Hinebaugh has over 35 years of aircraft maintenance experience and holds a valid A&P License. In working with companies and clients, Mr. Hinebaugh witnessed firsthand the financial ramifications to the aircraft owner when aircraft record information went missing. This sparked the development of back-up aircraft logbooks and records documentation. Mr. Hinebaugh is at the forefront of aircraft operations technology working with such clients as General Dynamics, Boeing, Raytheon, ACI, Clay Lacy Aviation and various IS-BAO certification authorities. Before starting V-Log, Mr. Hinebaugh founded and Operates Aviation Consulting Group (ACG.) ACG is an international maintenance consulting company specializing in Completion Management, Aircraft Technical Appraisals, Maintenance Operations, Audits and Maintenance Management and Supervision. ACG clients include Gulfstream Aircraft Corp, Boeing Business Jets, Airbus, Lufthansa Consulting, Raytheon Services Corp, and Atlas Air. 28