It is often said that an aircraft without records is worthless, and whilst this may be an exaggeration, there is truth behind the saying. An aircraft with missing flight and maintenance records can have as much as 30% of its value eroded away. Aircraft records are not binary though, and the quality of records play an equally important role in helping maintain aircraft value.
When we talk about records, we are referring to both the flight and maintenance records of an aircraft. Today, these provide a record of when and where an aircraft has been flown and how it has been maintained.
Records for an aircraft serve two purposes: firstly, they are the proof of compliance to ensure an aircraft has been maintained and operated in accordance with approved practices. This is important as it's part of what's required to gain a Certificate of Airworthiness and be able to fly. Secondly, and more importantly for the aspect of aircraft value, records tell a story about how the aircraft has been historically operated and maintained, and this is a good indicator on the future reliability and longevity of an aircraft.
For example, when assessing an aircraft, most buyers initially look at the total time and hours to cycle ratio. Whilst this has a bearing on upcoming maintenance checks, for an aircraft of equal age, aspects such as how often the aircraft has flown, and where it has flown can be equally important. Engine corrosion is more likely for an aircraft that is sitting around, or indeed has been flying in polluted environments or areas with low quality fuel.
With a digital history of an aircraft's flights, it is easy to extract this information for a prospective buyer. What would have been days of going through records now becomes instant. Data quality is also an important benefit with digital records. Often mistakes are made on paper, or the data itself is unreadable leading to difficult reconciliation. With digital records, there is the ability to automatically check all the data being recorded to ensure it is both valid and coherent.
Whilst it is clear that digital records will become increasingly prevalent in the years to come, there is still some resistance. Some people like to see tangible evidence of an aircraft's history, a bit like physical cash versus a number in your online bank account. There are also questions on the security of these records and how do we ensure they are correct and can't be tampered with - this will be the subject of a future post.
Lastly, there is the question of whether there is such as thing as 'too much data'. In the past, certain data behind the operation of an aircraft may have been dismissed, but with continuous monitoring and recording of systems, this is now able to directly affect how an aircraft is maintained. As we move into an era where maintenance programmes are becoming more and more based on real-world operating data, storing information on how the aircraft has been operated may prove to be used in the near future.
A digital aircraft technical log, the record of an aircraft's flights and maintenance status, is a great way to start generating digital records for your aircraft. At TrustFlight, our Tech Log has been designed to be simple to use, whilst helping to maintain the value of your aircraft by ensuring flights records are complete and correct, and with various insights easily available for audits, reporting or to provide to potential buyers.