Why are aircraft logbooks important?
I’m often asked this question by aircraft owners and non-aviation people alike. The answer is simple: logbooks contain the entire aircraft maintenance history of the aircraft and they back-up and support the Statement of Airworthiness an aircraft needs to be able to fly.
Since logbooks are one of the major items that determine if an aircraft is to be considered Airworthy, they have a tremendous impact on the aircraft’s value.
A common formula in the world of business aviation is this: if one or more of the aircraft’s logbooks are missing, it will affect the value of the aircraft by as much as 30% or more. In fact, missing only one document may mean work on the aircraft must be performed again, or a life-limited part replaced with another part with known time on it; wasting both time and money required to resurrect missing information or replace the part.
If you can’t prove the aircraft is airworthy … then it’s not. And an aircraft that can’t fly is only a ramp weight with wings; with no value other than its component parts.
So, next time you look at a beautiful aircraft and think “that’s the one for me”: remember to take-a-look at its logbooks. They have the ability to make the aircraft part of the wonderful experience of business aircraft ownership, or an episode straight from the annuals of hell.
See “Logbooks … The Essence of an Aircraft’s Airworthiness” in BAR Commentary for more information on the importance of aircraft maintenance logbooks.