Scanning is becoming a more common practice every day. Electronic records offer a set of unique benefits unmatched by existing paper records. Digital aircraft records open-up multiple ways to benefit the aircraft owner and operator; including greater efficiency, productivity, security, and cost savings.


One of the biggest benefits is the security aspect of digital records. And, scanning records and storing in an AC120-78A system provides extra security over digital records stored on just a normal hard drive or in paper.


Compared to paper, making a digital back-up copy of a record is faster and easier. And scanned documents can be backed-up to remote servers. If all primary copies were somehow destroyed, the backup copies can be quickly retrieved and used to restore the originals (see Aircraft Records and Copies below).


Using a digital system to manage records centralizes information. This makes it easier for teams to work together on the same document or to look at the same logbook from multiple locations. With a cloud-based system you can access an aircraft’s logbooks from any location with an internet connection.


Any person researching a logbook for information may spend just 15 – 30 minutes each time looking for the information in the record. However, this time and cost adds-up over the course of a year. Digital records can be searched instantly using “key word” searches saving hundreds of hours of time every year looking for information.


An aircraft’s records can be scanned and uploaded to a secure storage server. A 3-drawer filling cabinet for example, can store far fewer files and takes-up tremendously more space.


Overall, document scanning’s greatest benefit is its cost savings. Going paperless helps save money in the long-term and the short-term. The initial, upfront cost of scanning aircraft records can be expensive. However, the benefits far outweigh the initial costs.


Scanning aircraft records to making electronic copies that can be counted-on in the future to be legitimate logbook entries adds just a bit more complexity than other types of records.

Aircraft records, to be considered “the same” as the original paper, require a FAR 43.12 sign-off stating that the electronic copies are “exactly the same” as the original paper record. Any A&P could create this sign-off to the electronic copy when it is used as a replacement for a logbook entry. However, the problem really lies less in when the record is used, and more when the record was first scanned. Two things must happen for an A&P in the future to be able to make this FAR 43.12 statement:

1. The images must be originally “signed-off” as FAR 43.12 compliant copies when scanned.

2. The copies must then be kept in a secure environment which ensures they have not been altered. Preferably, this would mean the copies have been kept secure in an FAA AC120-78A compliant environment the entire time.

Maintenance tracking companies are guilty of letting you think you have a logbook back-up when you don’t. Not convinced? Do more research for yourself if you need to, but don’t be lulled into the common trap of thinking that because many of your logbook entries have been scanned and sent to your maintenance tracking company, you have a viable back-up. You don’t.


Scanning the aircraft’s paper records and converting them to an electronic format to have as a legal logbook back-up, or to replace the legacy paper records altogether, has many advantages. But, in order to go forward to use the scanned images as legitimate electronic aircraft records, the process must be executed correctly.

With the recorded maintenance history of the aircraft proven time-and-time again to be a significant contributor to the overall value (30% to 50%) of the aircraft, you know how seriously the records are taken whenever the aircraft is sold or involved in an incident or accident. So, take them seriously now! Back them up properly like the asset they are. You will never regret this decision. And one day, it may prove to be worth its weight in gold!

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