Dear Federal Judge | Aviation Integrity

Dear Federal Judge

If you have ever attended one of my Inspection Authorization Renewal Seminars you know how I beat our documentation efforts to death. There is a reason for my continual pounding of the documentation drum, it’s because as an industry, we technicians basically hate to document. We don’t write well, we can’t spell, and it is typically the part of the job we hate the most. On the other hand, if there is any one part of our job that will put us in hot water faster and deeper than anything else, it’s the documentation, and generally the lack of documentation.

We wrenches exert a tremendous amount of energy and effort to ensure our aircraft are maintained to the highest standards on the planet. And basically, our safety records clearly illustrates we are maintaining our aircraft to a very high standard. But long after the cowlings are closed, remain the logbooks to be scrutinized for years thereafter. Those logbooks provide tangible evidence of our accomplished maintenance efforts. If our logbook entries are executed with the same quality and precision as our maintenance, we have nothing to worry about, but if we have left something out, we have left a door open for all to see, and that door could get slammed in our face.

Some folks review logbook entries as a reflection of the quality of maintenance we have performed. If our writing is sloppy, they assume our maintenance was sloppy. If we have left out certain data that should have been in the logbook entry, they questions if we missed that step in our maintenance. If our logbook entries are subject to a Federal investigation, now we have invited Federal Attorneys to audit our logbook entries.

Now can you see why I pound the documentation drum so hard? My soul purpose is to try to show and teach you ways to protect yourself. You take a good old wrench busten his butt to keep his machine flying like a home sick angel, just trying to make ends meet, and one logbook entry, yes, one logbook entry, has turned his entire world upside down.

When I start a log book entry, I start off by asking myself: “Dear Federal Judge, what should I put in this logbook entry to cover my #*&@, because I know if this one logbook entry makes it to court you are going to offer me zero, yes, zero slack.” We simply have to assume each and every logbook entry we execute is heading into Federal prosecution.

The general rule of thumb with respect to logbook entries is that if you didn’t include it in your logbook entry it didn’t happen. If you read FAR 43.13, if forces us to use the maintenance manual when we perform maintenance, but there is a modifier in front of the word maintenance manual in that FAR and it is “current”. I would strongly suggest you to include the word “current” just as the FAA did when writing that Regulation. For example: All work performed in accordance with current manufacturers maintenance manuals. And by all means you must ensure you are using the current manufacturers maintenance manuals when performing maintenance. Additionally, if you are installing a part that has been repaired or overhauled by a Repair Station, include the Repair Station number, work order number and date of the work order in your logbook entry. I know this information is included on the 8130-3, but if the 8130-3 gets lost, the pertinent data you need to put the liability back on the Repair Station for their repair or overhaul is included in your logbook entry.

When executing a logbook entry try to complement your professionalism. Allow your logbook entry to stand as tall as the maintenance you just performed. Prepare your logbook entry to enter Federal Prosecution. Work your resources, ask some folks you respect to review and audit your logbook entries, and seek suggestions how to constantly improve.

Documentation may currently be one part of the job you despise, but again, perform a risk assessment to clearly understand the consequences and ramifications of a poorly written logbook entry. To stand at the plateau of a Professional, we must perform all aspects of our job to the very best of our ability. When we possess the willingness and desire to improve, we will improve, and like anything else we do, the more we do it, the better we get at it. Remember that the journey to professionalism never ends.

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