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Aircraft Maintenance: Logging lessonsAircraft Maintenance: Logging lessons

General aviation aircraft owners can perform some of their own maintenance but they need to correctly log the entry into the appropriate logbook. Photo by David Tulis/AOPA.

It should come as no surprise that I am a fan of any aircraft owner who enjoys performing his or her own maintenance. Fortunately, the FAA has a provision for owner maintenance.

Part 43 of the federal aviation regulations specifies, “The holder of a pilot certificate issued under Part 61 may perform preventive maintenance on any aircraft owned or operated by that pilot which is not used under Part 121, 127, 129, or 135.”

This means that the owner or operator of the aircraft is legally permitted to perform preventive maintenance without the supervision of an A&P mechanic. However, you need to read Part 43 closely to determine which maintenance tasks are permitted. Also, any maintenance tasks you perform still need to be completed in compliance with all federal aviation regulations. This includes the proper procedures and logbook entries. Many owners seem well-versed in oil changes and spark plug cleaning, but unfortunately not as well-educated when it comes to compliance with maintenance logging requirements.

Jeff Simon

The regulations require that all maintenance be appropriately documented in the aircraft’s logbooks. This applies to owner maintenance as well. Any time you perform maintenance, you must log the following:

  • The type of inspection and a brief description of the extent of the inspection;
  • The date of the inspection and aircraft total time in service;
  • The signature, the certificate number, and kind of certificate held by the person approving or disapproving for return to service the aircraft, airframe, aircraft engine, propeller, appliance, component part, or portions thereof.

A typical oil change entry would be entered in the engine logbook as follows:

8/23/15 3025TT Airframe, 1222 SMOH Engine
Drained oil and replaced with 7qts. 20W50 Oil. Replaced 48110 oil filter and safety wire. Collected oil sample for analysis. Engine test-run and no leaks noted.
Jeffrey Simon
Owner, pilot license #11223333

It may seem like a minor detail to get the logbook entry correct, but it’s a major responsibility in the eyes of the FAA. In addition, the information you enter becomes part of the permanent record of the aircraft’s maintenance history. While you may intend to keep your airplane forever, even the best of plans are subject to change. Ask yourself what you want the prospective buyer to think when closely evaluating the logbooks as part of a pre-purchase inspection.

Messy or incomplete entries imply that the aircraft was not maintained to very high standards. Also, if you forget to log an oil change, the assumption will be that it wasn’t done, which can be a significant red flag to a buyer.

So, take the time to make your logbook entries as professional as your work. Use the previous maintenance entries as a model for consistency. This process may include creating your entries on your computer and printing them on labels to be placed on the logbook pages (just don’t forget to sign them). A little effort goes a long way, and you’ll appreciate the attention to detail should you need to review the logbooks yourself sometime in the future. After all, your logs are more than just maintenance entries; they also serve as a diary of sorts of your aviation experience. Until next time: Happy flying!

Interested in aircraft maintenance? View the archives of Jeff Simon’s Aircraft Maintenance series.

Social FlightJeff Simon is an A&P mechanic, pilot, and aircraft owner. He has spent the last 14 years promoting owner-assisted aircraft maintenance as a columnist for several major aviation publications and through his how-to DVD series: The Educated Owner. Jeff is also the creator of SocialFlight, the free mobile app and website that maps over 20,000 aviation events, airport restaurants, and educational aviation videos, including many how-to videos for the subjects of these articles. Free apps are available for iPhone, iPad and Android, and on the Web at www.SocialFlight.com.

Jeff Simon

Jeff Simon

Jeff Simon is an A&P mechanic, pilot, and aircraft owner. He has spent the last 14 years promoting owner-assisted aircraft maintenance as a columnist for several major aviation publications and through his how-to DVD series: The Educated Owner. Jeff is also the creator of SocialFlight, the free mobile app and website that maps over 20,000 aviation events, $100 hamburgers, and educational aviation videos. Free apps available for iPhone, iPad and Android, and on the Web at www.SocialFlight.com.
Topics: Maintenance, Ownership

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