Aircraft logs and records are almost as valuable as the aircraft itself. I was at a client’s hangar this week reviewing an aircraft and its logs and records as we prepare to bring it to the market next week. The aircraft is an early Falcon 2000 and the client is one of the oldest, largest and most well respected corporate flight departments in the country. This flight department is unique as they have extensive in-house maintenance capability including their own repair station and large maintenance and inspections department. The in-house chief inspector told me (as I was just starting to look through a very thick logbook) that they document everything in great detail, maybe even to a fault. It took a while to complete my records review and it might be intimidating to a buyer due to the volume of detail, but once they read the entries and understand what they have there will be no unanswered questions and there will be no mistaking what a great asset they are contemplating buying. When I finished my review I was convinced that this was one of the best cared for Falcon 2000’s in the global fleet (and I am now proud to represent two great and respectively different Falcon 2000s – this one and s/n 82). As I read the logs for this Falcon 2000 and thought about the chief inspector’s comment I was reminded that you can never over document anything regarding an airplane. In my opinion, the more detail the better.
You don’t have to be a large flight department with in-house maintenance to have good records. A single pilot operation for a smaller plane can also have good records. It takes time, dedication and a detailed focus to maintain them. But, as I said above, good records are worth almost as much as the aircraft itself. Poorly kept records can negatively impact the true value of an aircraft and the ability to sell at all. Regularly review your records. Keep 8130 tags with entries. Keep all 337’s well organized. Make sure that you can easily review maintenance tracking software and find logbook entries for past inspections and that they correspond. Make sure that the logbooks are legible and that the aircraft hours and entry dates are all correct and in order. Verify that if there is an entry for a part of an engine that comes off, there is also one when that part or engine goes back on. And remember, the more detail the better.
One more thought about logs and records regarding damage or repair history. You will never be able to explain away damage history or repairs. You can’t talk away the impact of non-standard inspection criteria. But, if well documented you can certainly minimize the impact on the value of the asset. From a sales perspective, if the broker representing the aircraft understands what they have because of good documentation and can explain it to a buyer right up front (and it isn’t too terribly serious), they can often help keep the focus on the strengths of the offering. It is the unknown that scares people. When there is no explanation of what happened or why, a prospective buyer will have much greater concern and apprehension. If, however, you have pictures of a given event and/or explanation that become part of permanent records of an aircraft a buyer will hopefully be able to understand it and feel comfortable with what happened and how it was handled. The more serious the event or repair the more serious the impact on the value of the asset, but good records might help someone stay focused (price dependent) instead of just running for the door.