What is the Difference Between Pilot Logbooks, Aircraft Logbooks and Flight Logs?
July 1, 2020
History of Logbooks and Flight Logs
Aircraft/pilot logbooks and flight logs have been around as long as aviation itself, with the Wright brothers keeping detailed notebooks of their aircraft build, experiments, dates of a flight, airplane used, pilot, passenger’s name, time aloft and course flown. They also recorded distance flown, height achieved, weather and any related comments.
Any logbook entries indicated the limitations of the technology at the time; airplanes were unreliable, slow, and capable of carrying only light loads (one passenger). In 1913, there were no endorsements or stamps that denoted such records were mandated by any aviation regulatory authority. Such agencies did not yet exist!
As a practical matter, pilot logbooks became an important component of civil aviation as barnstormers, airmail carriers and airline pilots all kept such records simply to help ensure that they were properly paid. Times sure have changed.
What is an Aircraft Logbook Versus a Flight Log?
An aircraft logbook is an inclusive term which applies to all primary and supplemental records covering the aircraft. They may come in a variety of formats. For single engine piston aircraft, the logbook can be a small 5” x 8” bound book. Larger aircraft logbooks may be organized in any number of ways: three-ring binders, file cabinets, boxes or even in digital format from a modern app company like Bluetail. An aircraft that has been in service for several years will most likely have several aircraft logbooks and supplemental records.
Information gathered in these logbooks is used to determine the condition and airworthiness of the aircraft, certification dates, repair history, date of inspections and time on the airframe, engines, propellers, APU and related parts and appliances. The records convey a history of all significant events related to the aircraft, its components as well as its accessories. The aircraft logbooks provide a place for indicating compliance with FAA/EASA and other regulatory airworthiness directives and manufacturer service bulletins and letters. The more comprehensive the logbooks, the easier it is to understand the aircraft maintenance history and value. When creating aircraft logbook entries, it is important to exercise special care to ensure that each entry can be clearly comprehended by anyone who needs to read it in the future.
Aircraft flight logs, by contrast, are any tools and record keeping systems used by aircraft owners and operators to track an aircraft’s recent flight history. Information contained in such records include, but is not limited to, aircraft flight time, cycles, landings and other crew/flight information. The flight logs are not intended to replace aircraft logbooks; rather, they provide supplementary flight information that is accurate and up-to-date.
What is A Pilot Logbook?
While pilots may vary by experience and their level and ratings/certificates held, the one thing they have in common are their pilot logbooks. Pilot logbooks should be maintained regularly as they are an indispensable record documenting the flight time that is used to meet the minimum requirements for a pilot rating, certificate, flight review or instrument proficiency check (IPC). They are also used to demonstrate pilot currency. After many years in the cockpit, pilots often look through their pilot logbooks to not only see a succession of the flights they’ve taken, but also memories, challenges and their career growth.
Please contact Bluetail today to learn more about how we are helping both aircraft owners and pilots to take all their records to the next level with our digital aircraft logbooks.