If you’re operating an aircraft or fleet under Part-91 in the US, there’s a good chance you’re not using any kind of aircraft maintenance or flight log. The regulations don’t require one to be maintained, so why should you? Isn’t it just another unnecessary process?
In fact, most commercial operators around the world will use some form of aircraft flight or maintenance log and they do so for many good reasons to improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of flying. Depending on where you’re from the log will be called different things (Journey Log, Tech Log, Maintenance Log, Flight Log) but they all have a similar purpose of providing critical information to pilots, ensuring communication between flight crew and maintenance, and acting as a record of aircraft use.
Here are six reasons why you should use an aircraft maintenance log:
1. Fix faults faster, and save money
Any mechanic will tell you as much detail as possible is the key to troubleshooting and fixing faults faster. A phone call, brief email or passing comment about a fault may seem more efficient, but actually will cause your mechanic to spend more time trying to figure out the problem and second guess what happened. Even worse is finding out at the end of a maintenance visit about a fault which was forgotten about. Save the delays, increased cost and hassle by having consistent fault entries recorded on a maintenance log, kept with the aircraft.
2. Manage MELs and deferred items correctly
Speaking of MELs, they’re a bit of a complex process but are there to save your back when you need to keep flying. Unfortunately, they’re also a common cause of non-compliance when items are not fixed within the required time period, maintenance procedures are not carried out, or crew are just not aware of any MEL items on the aircraft. Managing deferred items using a flight log greatly reduces the risk of any surprises or incidents occurring from mis-managed MELs.
3. Make sure all crew are on the same (log) page
Puns aside, handovers between users of the aircraft help to avoid stress or unknowns before a flight. A system that allows people to easily see when the aircraft was last flown, any issues encountered as well as small things such as whether the aircraft will need fuel or oil all adds to reducing any unintended delays or gotchas when getting to the aircraft.
4. Ensure compliance when it gets busy
Speaking of unintended delays, all pilots know time just seems to evaporate before a flight as you’re waiting for passengers, coordinating refueling, getting clearances and so on. Once the flight is finished, everyone just wants to get home. Unlike during a flight, where there are set checklists and procedures to ensure everything gets done, preflight and postflight are top culprits when it comes to errors or forgetting steps. To reduce this, having a set process with a maintenance and flight log helps ensure that items are correctly recorded even when times get busy.
5. Avoid the hassle of ramp checks and international operations
Flying outside of the US, you may very well be asked during a ramp check to show a flight log with details of any defects on your aircraft. Whilst it may not be technically required, fumbling around for a report from your maintenance tracking system doesn’t give a good impression - and impressions are important for a painless ramp check. Having a well organized flight log showing any defects or MEL items makes life easier for everyone.
6. Improve the resale value of your aircraft
When it comes to selling your aircraft, nothing sets off alarm bells more than having disorganized,sparse, or missing maintenance records. Anyone doing due diligence on your aircraft is trying to determine two main things 1). Has it been looked after well? and 2). Are the records good enough to register/insure/finance it? For the first point, more is less - everyone knows aircraft are complex and things break, so having a good set of logs showing how the aircraft has been used and looked after will give confidence. For the second point, different countries and organizations have different requirements for records – having a complete set of flight and maintenance logs will avoid any difficult conversations or attempts to negotiate on a deal if they’re expecting records that you don’t have.
Hopefully this article has highlighted just some of the benefits you can achieve, and risks you can avoid, by implementing a good aircraft maintenance and flight log process. If you’re starting a new operation or looking to implement a new log process, download our free template to get started.