All aircraft owners know the importance of their maintenance logbooks — and just as many look at those records and think “what a mess.”
You’re not alone. That’s why three under-30 innovators have created a new aircraft maintenance record backup and transcription program that’s proven to be quite popular with the GA crowd.
Called PlaneLogiX, the service was born out of something we’ve all muttered under our breath: “There’s got to be a better way.”
That’s what Robert Wilkes thought when he was an aircraft owner. “There were some fundamental shortcomings in the ownership experience,” he said. Not only was it difficult to find something in the logbooks, “it was scary handing over the logbooks to a mechanic for an annual,” he said.
That’s when he and his partners, William Goldstein and William Hecksteden — the forces behind North Carolina-based Pilot Mission — decided that what was needed was a way to digitize and transcribe the logbooks.
That makes the logbooks easy to search, which will cut down on future maintenance costs. It also will boost the resale value of your airplane, according to Hecksteden.“Imagine not having to flip through messy logbooks, where things are stapled on top of other things,” he said. “If you have all the information in a digital format, a potential buyer can literally search for anything, such as a prop strike.”
He also notes that having the logbooks backed up takes away that fear of “what happens if I lose my logbooks?”
The three offer a variety of services, starting with logbook backups and scans — called SimpleScan — going up to the option to extract and transcribe all records, called ScanScription.
“If we transcribe the records, we then offer a service to extract all installed parts and components from the records, as well as generate a report on all inspections which have taken place on the airplane,” Wilkes said. “We take it a step further and cross-reference all these inspections against our database to ensure that the owner’s information is accurate and complete. If we can’t identify or locate an inspection, we alert the owner.”
And when the three say “transcribe” they don’t mean a simple scan. Each and every entry is typed in by someone at the company — none of the work is outsourced, they note.
Aircraft owners who go for this service receive a hardcopy binder printout and PDF copy of the logbooks on a thumb drive, while those going for the premium service receive all this in a new logbook satchel with an internal filing system to keep the owner organized going forward.
Just want a scan? Owners who go for this service receive a bookmarked and organized PDF with all of their scanned documents.
The company is now concentrating on getting its online platform going so that aircraft owners can access their records online. They’ll be able to upload scanned images, transcribe the records themselves, generate their own reports, and more.
The three young innovators were kept very busy at this year’s AirVenture, with aircraft owners dropping off their logbooks at their booth in the morning and picking up the scans at the end of the day.
The three anticipate offering this service at other airshows and fly-ins, realizing that many aircraft owners are nervous about shipping their logbooks to the company’s headquarters in North Carolina.
That’s why the three also will travel to where you are to scan your records. They suggest getting a group of owners together to help keep costs down.
While concentrating on smaller singles and twins, the company saw a lot of interest from turboprop and jet owners at AirVenture, so are expanding to help them as well.
“We really want to build a tool for general aviation,” Wilkes said.
“There’s nothing like this at the moment and we want to make an impact on GA.”
That’s the foundation of the company, according to Hecksteden.
That’s how the three began developing a series of flight training materials — they call them “Spark Notes for Pilots” — through the Pilot Mission part of the company. They offer five separate reference materials for pilots, known as T-Refs, as well as many different A-Refs, which are aircraft reference materials that, according to company officials, “serve as a valuable platform from which an individual can make the critical decision:
To buy, or not to buy, this type of aircraft.”
Pilot Mission’s iBook, “The Private Pilot eBR,” was a 2013 iTunes best seller. It’s full of interactive elements, including quizzes and more.
“When we started, we knew we wanted to do something to help GA,” Hecksteden said.