There is, I discover a great deal more to flying planes than just getting in and pointing them at the sky. There are 9 exams covering a range of subjects, all of which you must pass before you can do your practical skills test. Then there’s flight planning, for which you produce a chart and “FLOG” for every trip (Flight Log), weights and balance calculations and all of this is aside to the aircraft technical logs, fuel sheets and timings… which is why I have been looking for ways to make one aspect of the paperwork, paper-free.
Every pilot has a responsibility to log their flying hours, its this log that you submit to the CAA when you have completed your practical skills test to show you have enough hours under your belt… its this log you use continually throughout your flying career to show how competent you are in control of an aircraft. My Pilots log, was a complete mess… after many corrections, additions and changes my log-book looks like something a careless teenager would produce for their least favourite subject at school. One page has so much tipex on it, it no longer closes flat. I have therefore been searching for a tidy, OCD (and CAA) compliant alternative.
I have been looking at Logbook.Aero an online pilots logbook that is perfect for not only PPL, but professional, commercial pilots too. I have to say, it’s brilliant. You can adjust, fix and repair entries (without tipex) work ‘out of the timeline’ and upload notes, images and GPS data – its more than a logbook, its an online journal, which you can access from any device, in any connected location. For just £30 a year, my headache of paperwork, in terms of my logbook at least is over – I can even share my profile (if I wanted to) with other users, my instructors can sign off and make notes, it covers all of the bases. A cool feature which other online services also offer is the statistics dashboard, showing you nice graphical displays of your flying, the aircraft you fly most often and a good breakdown of your progress and history.
How does it work legally with the CAA? Well they say this:
“Computerised Logbooks are acceptable, provided that they are submitted in hard copy paper format and contain the relevant information (as specified in the ANO, currently in force, Article 79) with each page certified as true and signed by the applicant.”
Technically, you could use a spreadsheet, but with an online service you’re afforded not only a secure store, the chance to print and backup but when the rules change or your circumstances change, you can stick with the same portal, it will grow with you and adapt as the rules do.
There’s loads out there from Pilotlog to LogTen from Coradine and please do take a free trial of them all before making your mind up, for me I settled on Logbook.Aero as it just ticked the boxes… and if I change my mind, I can export my data as a CSV and try something else.
I know some people still like the paper method, there is something to be said for logging your progress in a book, with a nice ink pen, its like a declaration, a special moment, the logbook grows and ages with you, it picks up the smell of the aircraft and becomes dog-eared with its own personality but for me, i just want to keep it accurate, clean and with less to carry with me so technology, I think is the answer.