Am I Allowed To Review the Aircraft Logbooks Before I Rent?

Reviewing an aircraft’s maintenance logbooks before renting is always a good idea.

Reviewing maintenance logbooks before you take up an airplane is good practice. [File photo]

Question: I am a fairly new private pilot and I just moved to a new state, which means I need to find a flight school to rent airplanes from. I went to one and when I asked to see the logbooks for the aircraft the person behind the counter refused, saying they weren't going to do that unless I was from the IRS or the FAA and the owner of the school was there.

I thought it was common practice to review logbooks before you rent an aircraft? Or should I just trust that the school knows what they are doing?

Answer: This sounds like the person behind the counter heard the word "books" and missed the word "log," so they thought you were asking for the financial records of the school. 

Maintenance logbooks are a completely different entity, and you are correct, reviewing them before you take up an airplane is good practice because it is part of the determination of airworthiness. If an inspection is overdue or an AD not complied with, that makes the aircraft unairworthy and if you are pilot in command, you are responsible for determining airworthiness. Always check the logbooks before you fly something for the first time if you can, and periodically before check rides or after major maintenance.

I am puzzled by the insistence that the business owner has to be there during the process, unless he or she is the only person who has the keys to the safe or office where the logbooks are kept. It is not uncommon for the flight school to want one of their employees to oversee the process—those logbooks are valuable, but the check shouldn't take you more than an hour, so it usually isn't too expensive if you have to pay for the employee's time.

Do you have a question about aviation that’s been bugging you? Ask us anything you’ve ever wanted to know about aviation. Our experts in general aviation, flight training, aircraft, avionics, and more may attempt to answer your question in a future article.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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