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).
STREAMLINED USER ACCESS
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.
IMPROVED RECORDS MANAGEMENT AND TIME EFFICIENCY
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.
SAVING VALUABLE SPACE
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.
SAVING TIME AND MONEY
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.
AIRCRAFT RECORDS AND COPIES
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.
THE BOTTOM LINE