A business aircraft’s maintenance record, commonly referred to as a “Logbook”, are documents that back-up and support the Airworthiness of the aircraft. When done properly, logbooks contain the age of the aircraft; its maintenance history; the total time on the aircraft when work was accomplished; major modifications accomplished since the aircraft was new; damage history to the aircraft if any; and any other information relative and important to understanding the aircraft’s history and Airworthiness.

Logbooks will either prove or disprove the validity of an aircraft’s Airworthiness when examined. Anyone trying to prove an aircraft’s Airworthiness (like in the case of an aircraft pre-buy or FAR 135 Certificate addition) knows that if the record demonstrates that all items have been accomplished to render the aircraft Airworthy … then the aircraft is determined to be Airworthy. However, if information necessary to prove the aircraft’s airworthiness is missing from the record; the FAA considers it the same as if the event never took place … and the aircraft is determined to be Unairworthy. In this case, being found to be unairworthy, the aircraft cannot fly again until the issue is resolved.

Additionally, when an aircraft is involved in an incident causing damage, personal injury, or loss of life; chances are a lawsuit will follow. In this case, maintenance records (or lack thereof) in an aircraft’s logbooks will either convict, or absolve, the aircraft owner and maintenance personnel having worked on the aircraft.


The financial cost of the current method of record keeping in business aviation is estimated to be over $125 million annually. That’s over $5,000 per aircraft per year just to keep up with the requirements of normal operation.

Adding to this large expenditure is the fact that missing information from a logbook, or a missing logbook altogether, has an extreme financial impact on the value of the aircraft as well. Logbooks have been proven time and again to be worth between 30% to 50% of the overall Market Value of an aircraft. Without logbooks, even a $70 Million jet is almost worthless if it can’t fly.

In many cases, the cost of recovering missing logbook information or replacing time-controlled or life-limited parts on the aircraft is not financially justifiable. More than one aircraft has been rendered a total loss as a flying machine due to the loss of just one logbook, or the aircraft’s entire collection of logbooks.


Missing only one document from the record can also be a problem which will result in one of two things happening if the document cannot be resurrected by some other means:

1. Maintenance, although previously accomplished, must be completed again.

2. Life limited or time-controlled components, even though operating perfectly fine, will need to be replaced to know the components’ total time and/or total cycles.

Either of these events waste both the owner’s money and contribute to the time the aircraft would otherwise be available to fly. Unfortunately, most aircraft owners only find out their aircraft’s logbooks are deficient when its’ already too late to recover from the missing information; usually impacting a sale or hampering the time required to begin flying the aircraft.


With respect to logbooks; aviation insurance is yet another concern in business aviation today. Insurance companies simply do not insure aircraft logbooks … period. For the straightforward reason that the value damage to an aircraft due to missing logbook information is so difficult to establish beforehand, the easiest way to prevent an argument from occurring between the aircraft owner and the insurance company over the value of missing information, if it happens, is to eliminate the potential argument altogether. Insurance companies have a term for aircraft logbooks: Low Risk, High Impact Assets. Anyone owning or operating an aircraft should take note: Logbooks are both extremely critical and extremely valuable.


With so much riding on the condition of an aircraft’s logbooks you would think, as an industry, we would be highly focused and concerned with the aircraft’s records. But the evidence shows that this is not the case. Even though good records reflect a well-cared-for aircraft and save valuable maintenance time for technicians when researching the history of the aircraft; the reality is that good management of aircraft records as a normal way of operating an aircraft today rarely happens. As an industry we need to change the way we manage aircraft records. For that to happen, aircraft operators and their maintenance departments need to be held more accountable for the care and condition of these valuable documents. Like most activities, improving the way things are done usually takes education. As an industry, we should start this education process today. Soon we will begin to see a steady improvement in aircraft record keeping practices and the chronicling of an aircraft’s history of Airworthiness; to the benefit of both the business aircraft industry, and the professional image of business aircraft maintenance.

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