The Thrifty Pilot
Keeping it all together - Documentation
One of the best ways to avoid confusion, save money and ensure compliance for an aircraft owner is to keep proper documentation.
However, this is easier said than done as getting the motivation to sit down and sort all the paperwork associate with your aircraft can be daunting.
One of the ways you can make this task a whole lot easier is with the use of a mobile scanning application.
A great resource for finding a mobile scanning app is Life Hacker’s write-up of the five best mobile document scanning apps found here:
I am now using the CamScanner app, as it is very easy to use, works on pretty much all mobile platforms and is free!
Using a mobile app that takes clear photos of your documents and incorporates optical character recognition (OCR) technology takes the hassle out of manually scanning pages out of logbooks using a handheld or traditional scanner. My first attempt to scan my own documents using a traditional scanner ended up with me frustrated and overwhelmed. Some of my documents didn’t fit the scanner and keeping track of all the individual un-named files got VERY confusing and cluttered very quickly.
Eventually, my mechanic turned me on the idea of using this alternate means of technology. She used a scanning app to capture all my plane's documents and saved them to a DVD. Everything was categorized where my logbook, loose paperwork, manuals and AD's were in their own files. One file for each collection – big shout out to her!
Now going forward, I can utilize this simple method for myself to keep all my paperwork neat and tidy! Also, with the OCR function that is included in these apps, I can search for key words which greatly reduce the hassle of scrolling through page after page of documents to try to find a document or log book entry.
Lastly, a HUGE time saver and potential lifesaver (literally) when it comes to documentation is the suggestion of taking pictures of the components on your plane. By taking pictures of the components on my plane, I can get a visual cross-reference to what is in my log book. Pictures are worth a thousand words – sometimes more. So being able to see how a component is attached to an aircraft, how it is wired up, what type of hardware is used to secure it and how it connects with the other components around it will save a lot of time for myself and my mechanic the next time maintenance needs to be performed. Having pictures of your engine and the other areas of your plane makes sure that everything is replaced correctly and in the method, it was in previously.
Make sure when you take these pictures, that you get a good capture of serial numbers, model number(s) and any other identifying marks. Take the time to snap multiple pictures to get a "360" view of each component. If something goes missing or you are at home trying to research replacements, the time you take to capture good pictures can save you a ton of time and money.
Taking the time to accurately document everything about your plane will keep you safe, save you money and ensure that when you get to the point of selling your aircraft, will help reassure the buyer the plane has been well taken care of an maintained withing specifications. This will help in getting the selling price you are after and make the transaction go a little bit more smoothly.