Aircraft logbooks are as old as flying itself. One can imagine Charlie Taylor or the Wright brothers taking notes on the work accomplished on the Wright Flyer to memorialize what they did right, and what they did wrong, with every flight.

Fast forward to 1958 when the creation of the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) and development of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) were first developed governing:

1. The content, form, and disposition of the maintenance performed on an aircraft and,

2. What was required to return an aircraft to service as “Airworthy”,

and you have a modern-day logbook.

Many of these FARs (particularly when it comes to maintenance, preventative maintenance, and alterations on an aircraft) are not only still in use today; but remain virtually unchanged from the original version written over sixty years ago.


Logbooks are a collection of documents that backup and support the airworthiness of an aircraft. They typically contain the age of the aircraft, the total time on the aircraft when work was accomplished, major modifications accomplished since the aircraft was new, the aircraft’s maintenance history, and any damage that has occurred or other information relative and important to understanding the aircraft’s history and airworthiness.

Other than the aircraft itself, it is the condition, organization and completeness of the maintenance records that have the largest impact on the perceived value and airworthiness of the aircraft. Well organized, easily retrievable maintenance records provide both the required evidence of the legal airworthiness of the aircraft and are a time saver for maintenance technicians when doing research.


With this being the case, why do we then find most aircraft logbooks utterly disorganized, and bordering on the dysfunctional? Sometimes having valuable information missing altogether from the record or, conversely, huge amounts of unnecessary information

included; and most all of them difficult, if not nearly impossible to find the aircraft’s critically important airworthiness information?

Perhaps one reason is the FARs themselves. FAR 43.09 and FAR 43.11 explain in exacting detail what is required to be included in a legal maintenance Return to Service entry. FAR 91.417 states explain in exacting detail what is required to be included in an aircraft’s maintenance record and how long that information needs to be retained. But, nowhere will you find any reference in the FARs as to how this important information is to be formatted or displayed.

Unfortunately, this leaves the important task of gathering and displaying this information to technicians that (to be honest) would rather troubleshoot and fix a problem with an aircraft than properly administer the paperwork associated with the maintenance event.

Adding to these woes is the fact that without a defined outline for accumulating the information into a concise record, we are left with the reality that as many different types of technicians there are to do the work, there are just as many ideas on how to gather and display this important information.


What we could use is a guide or template to follow that describes what a thorough and proper logbook should look like. Its use would greatly benefit the entire business aircraft industry if most everyone in the industry followed these recommendations. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this type of information will ever be addressed by the FAA, and/or written into the FARs making them a rule.

Some aircraft OEMs do include their version of a proper logbook with each new aircraft; but this record organization/hierarchy created by the OEM soon falls prey to the calamities that happen to most aircraft logbooks, and they quickly join the ranks of the utterly disorganized.

But we can do better than to accept the dysfunctional logbooks we all deal with today. In an industry responsible for creating and operating aircraft that fly faster, travel further,and operate more efficiently than ever before; we need only apply ourselves to this endeavor to make it happen. And, in business aviation today … WE NEED THIS TO HAPPEN!

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