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"Logbooks are for nerds! The condition of the plane is what matters!"

It's true that the physical condition of your airplane is a major determining factor in its ability to stay aloft and get you home safely.


But is your aircraft legal to fly? More importantly, are there urgent safety issues with your airframe, engine, propeller or other components that present an immediate flight risk that haven't been addressed properly?

While often overlooked and nearly always misunderstood (by mechanics and pilots alike) your logbooks represent the status of airworthiness and documents the required compliance with safety directives. There's a reason missing logs can wipe out up to half the value of an otherwise airworthy plane!


Too often I see misleading claims like "complete logs since new!" Having logs that go back to the 60's may be cool to look at but that doesn't mean they're "complete." The reality is the vast majority of logbooks I review are missing loads of valuable (and required!) information that renders an aircraft unairworthy. 


The FAA is very specific about what information must be documented, and how that information is documented in order for a plane to be considered legal to fly. Too many mechanics and owners fall short in this area and missing data and non-compliant entries are the rule as opposed to the exception.


Additionally, logbooks can be like a crime-scene to a trained eye, telling a story that is not evident to a layperson. While a pilot may see a stack of books with a laundry list of oil changes and brake pad replacements, when I review logbooks I see the story of the aircraft's maintenance history and can tell immediately if a plane has been serviced by competent professionals, shade-tree pencil-whippers, or somewhere in between.    


Do your logbooks have bogus phrases like "All AD's complied with" or does the entry for your latest inspection just say "Annual performed this date. OK to return to service"? Have you been getting the "Inspection Two-Step" where an A&P signs off a 100hr and then an IA signs off an Annual on the same date? If so then your logbook entries may be more problematic than you think. I can help!


Do you have a complete list, separate from anything listed in your logbooks, describing the disposition of applicable AD's as required by CRF 91.417

Note that it is the owners responsibility to make sure the A&P's are making the appropriate entries. Do your logbooks contain the total time of the airframe, engine, and propeller? Can you tell at a glance the hours and/or date since the last overhaul of all items installed on the plane that have overhaul requirements? If not, I can fix that!

AD Compliance is the biggie. The FAA has very specific language about how AD disposition should be documented and the overwhelming majority of mechanics fall short in this area. Too many owners assume an Annual sign-off stating something simple like "considered to be in an airworthy condition" or "all AD's complied with" is acceptable. IT IS NOT!

Keep in mind that AD's are not the most reader-friendly documents and can be confusing to a mechanic in the field. The ECI cylinder AD for Continental engines is one that has been especially difficult for A&P's to decipher.


I've personally found four separate logbook entries determining this AD did not apply, when in fact the engines had the affected cylinders installed. Two of these planes had in-flight cylinder failures (one of which lost two cylinders on take-off.) This is just another example of why logbooks are crucial to determining the actual physical condition of the aircraft.

Reading this may be eye-opening and a lot to take in. Fear not! Logbooks are my bread and butter and I can get you up to date and legal. More importantly I can tell you about significant safety issues that need to be addressed.


Maybe you're confident in your skills and your aircraft's condition so hyper-accurate logbook entries aren't your biggest concern. Keep in mind that thorough, professional logbooks add value to your aircraft when you decide to sell it. It's also true that good documentation can protect you when bad things happen. When you land on the highway it's best to have solid, appropriate maintenance records instead of a hand-scribbled note in your logbook.

Logbook reviews are $200 (if being performed as part of a Pre-Buy you will receive this as a credit if you decide to move forward.) Reviews include complete AD research of airframe, engine, propeller, and any accessory or component you can provide a part and serial number for. If it's determined you have outstanding compliance issues I will provide you with a written estimate to get you legal.


Depending on the specific issue this may simply be correcting paperwork or require a quick inspection of a component. We will be communicating the whole time so we're on the same page! 

I once did a 185 that had no AD compliance documented since the 1980's and frequently perform annuals on planes with documentation missing for 20 years. This is a fixable problem!

$200 rate is for virtual review, where you send me your files electronically. If electronic records are not available on-site reviews in my local service area are $250.


Aircraft records are valuable!  Fire, theft, tornadoes, angry ex-wives, and all manner of bad things can happen to your records. Logbooks can be half the value of an aircraft!


I recommend everyone photograph/scan all of their aircraft records (including 337's, 8130's, receipts, etc) and store these copies both on a thumb drive and in the cloud. If you don't know how to do this pay a kid a hundred bucks (at least) to do it for you. Keep the thumb drive in a separate location from your actual logbooks. Go to Amazon and purchase fire envelopes/a fire safe and keep your physical logbooks there.


If I'm performing an inspection and the actual logbooks were destroyed or lost and the owner has legitimate copies in an electronic format I consider them acceptable substitutes. You will still take a hit on not having the physical logbooks however you will be worlds apart in recouping your loss.

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