Making Maintenance Record Entries
Title 14 of the CFR part 43, sections 43.9 and 43.11 require the technician to make appropriate entries of maintenance actions or inspection results in the aircraft maintenance record. How long those records must be kept is defined in 14 CFR part 91, section 91.417.
Whenever maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, or alteration work occurs on an aircraft, airframe, aircraft engine, propeller, appliance, or component part, a maintenance record entry must be created. The importance of compliance with this requirement cannot be overemphasized. Complete and organized maintenance logs for an aircraft can have significant (and usually positive) effect during the buy/ sell negotiations of an aircraft. On the other hand, poorly organized and incomplete logs can have a detrimental effect upon the selling price of an aircraft.
Temporary Records—14 CFR Part 91 Section 91.417(a)(1) and (b)(1)
These are records that must be kept by the owner until the work is repeated, superseded, or 1 year has transpired since the work was performed. These are typically records referring to maintenance, preventive maintenance, alteration, and all inspections. They include a description of the work performed (or reference to the FAA-accepted data); the date of completion; and the name, signature and certificate number of the person doing the RTS.
Permanent Records—14 CFR Part 91, Section 91.417(a)(2) and (b)(2)
These records must be retained by the owner during the time he or she operates the aircraft. They are transferred with the aircraft at the time of sale. Typically, these are documents relating to total time in service, current status of life-limited parts, time since last overhaul, current inspection status, current status of applicable AD notes, and major alteration forms as required by 14 CFR part 43, section 43.9.
During the last 25 years, the field of aviation maintenance has seen a significant change in the documentation requirements for aircraft and related parts. Nowhere is that change seen as revolutionary as the introduction of electronic data and record retention. Just as the arrival of the personal computer placed the possibility of the power and versatility of a computer in the hands of the average person, it made it available to the maintenance technician. Initially some technicians developed their own programs for listing data (TCDS, AD notes, and so forth), but soon commercially available programs were developed. Basically, these were developed by either one of the following two groups:
- Computer literate persons who felt the aviation industry could benefit from the computer
- Aviation professionals who felt the aviation industry must benefit from the computer
Some of those initial programs were either not very user friendly (if developed by computer wizards) or not “very sophisticated” (if developed by the maintenance technician). Today, there is a mixture of these various database programs. A review of the advertisement section in any current aviation maintenance magazine offers the reader numerous options for electronic maintenance records. Many of these programs offer a combination of the data research, such as ADs, SBs, STCs, and TCDSs, required to conduct proper maintenance, inspections, and data recording (logbook entries, AD compliance history, length of component time in service, and so forth) desired to improve the efficiency of the technician.
Although some large shops and certified repair stations may have a separate group of people responsible for “records and research,” the professional maintenance technician must be aware of the benefits of these systems. Some factors to consider when reviewing a system are:
- What is the typical size of the aircraft that maintenance is being done on? (i.e., less than 12,500 pounds, more than 12,000? Mixed?)
- Does the program have built-in templates for the aircraft being worked on?
- What FAA forms (if any) are available in the program?
- Does it have a user-friendly template to enter the data for the form or must data be directly entered onto the form?
- Can it calculate weight and balance data?
- Does it have adequate word search capabilities?
- Is it networkable?
- Are the updates sent via U.S. mail or downloaded from the Internet?
- What is the maximum number of aircraft that the system can handle?
- Can the system handle both single- and multi-engine aircraft? Fixed and rotary wing? Piston and jet?
- Can an item removed from an aircraft be tracked?
- Is the data from this system exportable to other electronic formats?
- Can it forecast items due for maintenance or inspection?
Since no program can be considered the best, the technician must learn all he or she can about the numerous systems that exist. Exposure to the pros and cons of these different systems can be one of the benefits of attending various trade shows, maintenance seminars, or IA renewal sessions. Continuous learning and personal improvement is the goal of every professional maintenance technician.