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Logbooks: Setting the record straightMichael Wilton of FlightSimple Aircraft Sales - www.flightsimple.comAfter the review of thousands of logbook pages, and years of reviewing entries in my own aircraft, I have discovered something. As owners, we do a terrible job of ensuring our logbooks are kept in great shape. I am not pointing fingers, unless you consider the one I am pointing at myself, as I am a culprit of this as much as anyone else.Let’s start at the beginning. When I bought my first airplane I knew logbooks were important, but didn’t realize how important they were until I started in the brokerage business. Once I started marketing Sellers aircraft to the public, the true extent of good logbook keeping came to the forefront. At that point, I started to review my own logs to see if I was making the same types of errors that I was seeing with the logs I was reviewing.
The first thing to do is review your logs for completeness. A full set of logs allows you to sell for the highest price possible and even if you are not looking to sell, a complete set of logs might come in handy at annual time, to ensure you are not offside of time compliance items. Your AME can check to see the life limits of items and confirm timelines.
The saying in our business is “treat them like they are made out of gold bars, because they are worth their weight in gold”. In the current market, lost or missing logs can be a $10k - $50k reduction in listing price depending on the aircraft. Even if you are not selling your aircraft right now, at some point you will want or need to, and having a full set of logbooks will maximize your value.
Next ensure your logs are secured and safe. This may mean purchasing a fire safe or other means to store them securely. Many folks leave them with their AME to secure in their shop. I am not opposed to this, but have reviewed several aircraft that lost their logbooks because of a very unfortunate fire at the AME’s building. In that case, over 20 owners lost their logbooks and even years later, we are encountering these aircraft in the market. That particular fire still haunts those Sellers years later, in the form of reduced selling prices due to lost log information. You may not be aware, I certainly wasn’t, but the requirement to maintain your logs is actually the Pilot’s responsibility. It is correct that we cannot sign off maintenance for certified aircraft, but the record keeping falls with the Owner / Pilot. That means knowing what entries are in your logbooks and ensuring the info is there.
AMEs are busy folks, normally looking after multiple different aircraft and they are human. Most are very smart technical folks, ensuring that our flying machines are the safest and best maintained in the skies. My family used to laugh that my grandfather had a closer relationship with his AME, than he did with his family.
Though a bit tongue in cheek, it wasn’t far from the truth and I see why. As a Broker and Owner, I utilize a number of different AMEs for my work. They are very good about assisting us with referrals and I try to spread the maintenance on my aircraft amongst these great AMEs. As well, a different set of eyes can find things that someone who has seen the same airplane for years may have missed. We can ensure that our AMEs are set up for success when we bring them the aircraft.
The best thing to do is know what is in you logs prior to heading to your AME. Something I do, that my AMEs have appreciated, is to ensure the page they will be installing their entries on has the correct times already in the boxes. I review my journey log and update the times in the airframe, engine and prop technical logs. That way, my AME can easily see the current times when they are reviewing the documents. Saves them some time and is a little something we can do to assist in the maintenance cycle.
The most important thing though, is to review the entries once they are complete. I always ask my AMEs to ensure a few key things are included in their entries. Compressions are a must, as they are something I want to see at each annual. It is also nice to have them front and centre if you are selling, as it is something Buyers look for right away.
An even bigger one is ADs. In Canada, we can easily search our tail number or serial number to get a list of the ADs required on our aircraft. Though many of these will be inapplicable (i.e. parts not installed, different types of cylinders, etc.), every few years the full list should be reviewed by your AME and signed off as completed. The ones applicable should say “complied with via…” or similar and the ones that don’t apply to your aircraft should be signed off with “not applicable due to..” serial number, part not installed, etc.
Not only is this nice to have to ensure you are in compliance, but also shows potential Buyers that you have reviewed all the ADs, not just the same ones each year. Remember, the Modifications Logbook is a great place for this. You can even print the sheet and attach it in, saving your AME the trouble and prompting them to review the full list. Save your AME some time and they will thank you for it.
As an addition on the compliance front, if you have STCs installed on your aircraft, it is a good idea to research and obtain the certificates if you do not have them in your documentation package. They can normally be obtained from the company that sold the product and are a very important item to have when you go to sell the aircraft. Trying to obtaining them during a sales sequence can cause the Seller a lot of headaches.
Keeping your aircraft records safe and up to date is a good thing. Not only does it show pride in ownership, but it is also a requirement under Transport Canada. Your AMEs will thank you for making their lives easier from a paperwork side of things. When you decide to sell your aircraft, you can easily show attention to detail. Good record keeping maximizes the value of your aircraft, which will ultimately be good for your bank account, if or when, you choose to sell your aircraft.
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