Generally, the regulations which cover the mechanic’s obligation to make log book entries, as well as the obligations of an aircraft registered owner or operator, are covered by 14 C.F.R. § 43.11 and § 91.417.
During the annual inspection of an aircraft, the IA typically develops a list of discrepancies, some of which may or may not affect the aircraft’s airworthiness. A discrepancy which affects the airworthiness of an airplane generally has to be repaired so that the aircraft can be returned to service as “airworthy”. The owner/operator may decide whether or not to correct discrepancies that do not affect airworthiness.
If at the conclusion of an annual inspection and correction of all airworthiness discrepancies the IA finds the aircraft airworthy and approved for return to service, the IA generally states in the log books, “I certify this aircraft has been inspected in accordance with an annual inspection and has been determined to be in airworthy condition.” See § 43.11(a)(4).
But what if an owner/operator wishes to have some or all of the discrepancies corrected by another shop or mechanic? If the corrections will not be made until later, then the mechanic is required to provide the owner/operator with a list of discrepancies and unairworthy items to be corrected, dated and signed by the mechanic per § 43.11(a)(5). This does not mean that the mechanic must list those discrepancies in the permanent log book for the aircraft since a list of discrepancies found during an annual inspection does not constitute a maintenance record for purposes of 43.11(a)(5) and 43.11(b). Instead, the owner should request that the discrepancies be placed on a separate piece of paper.
The IA completing the inspection and finding discrepancies that will not be corrected until later is also required to make a log book entry such as, “I certify this aircraft has been inspected in accordance with an annual inspection and a list of discrepancies and unairworthy items dated (DATE) has been provided to the aircraft owner/operator”. An aircraft not approved for return to service due to airworthiness discrepancies after an annual inspection is not considered airworthy and cannot be flown unless a ferry permit is obtained from the FAA. Therefore, if the owner/operator wants to fly the aircraft to another A&P mechanic to correct the noted discrepancies, the owner/operator can submit FAA Form 8130-6 to the local FSDO and request a special flight permit.
How long does an aircraft owner have to keep this list of discrepancies and airworthiness items (hopefully in a separate writing) that the IA prepared and signed? The list of discrepancies that an IA provides to the owner/operator only needs to be retained until the discrepancies are repaired and the aircraft is approved for return to service per §91.417(b)(3). The work done to correct the discrepancies will be noted in a log book entry.
As a practical matter, most owners/operators of aircraft keep permanent engine, airframe and propeller log books regarding annuals and the work done therein as well as ongoing and routine maintenance, including altimeter/static system checks and transponder checks. It is not at all unusual to find log books going back since the beginning of an aircraft’s manufacture which document its history. Obviously, log books are important and document the “pedigree” of the aircraft and support the value of the aircraft by showing its maintenance history.
By Jeffrey R. Ludwig
Federal Aviation Regulation 43.11, 91.411, and 91.417
FAA letter of interpretation issued to Michael D. Busch dated August 15, 2008