Paper or Electronic Logbook: Do you know which to choose?

by | FAQs for Beginners, Learn to Fly

Paper or electronic logbook? When it comes to flight training, pilots must keep track of their progress and achievements in a logbook. For many years, paper logbooks have been the go-to choice for pilots, but with the advent of digital technology, electronic logbooks are becoming increasingly popular. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of both to help you decide whether a paper or electronic logbook is the best option for your flight training needs.


Why do we need to log flights as a student pilot

Logging hours is more than a ceremonial conclusion to your flight. It is a crucial aspect of your training and serves as an official record of the hours spent in the cockpit. The FAA requires that you document all flights for training towards a certificate or rating and your logbook indispensable in proving that the necessary number of hours have been accumulated for a license or certification. Additionally, logbooks help instructors keep track of their students’ performances and areas for improvement. Whether you use a paper or electronic logbook, it is the record of your experience as a pilot and will form an important part of your resume as you pursue a career in aviation.


What are the benefits of using a paper or electronic logbook?

When it comes to logging your flight hours, the paper logbook remains a popular choice, especially for those preparing for their FAA checkride. Why? Firstly, it’s the format preferred by both the FAA and your DPE (designated pilot examiner), since you can bookmark specific entries that work towards your aeronautical experience requirements. Secondly, you don’t have to worry about your tablet malfunctioning during your oral exam – it’s always there for reference. It’s also reassuring that your logbook is a physical object in your possession: you don’t have to worry about your electronic logbook provider disappearing or not having a backup stored safely on your computer. Lastly, one of the biggest benefits of a paper logbook is getting a real signature from your CFI (certified flight instructor) after each flight. However, there are also some drawbacks to using a paper logbook, such as the potential for it to be damaged or lost.


What are the benefits of using an electronic or paper logbook?

For pilots, having an electronic logbook can be a game-changer when tracking hours or creating FAA 8710 reports when preparing for a checkride. Gone are the days of spending time adding up the flight hours by hand. With an electronic logbook, pilots have the benefit of a system that automatically calculates everything for them, leaving no room for human error. A well designed electronic logbook ensures you never lose track of important data. And while you may be concerned about your logbook provider’s long-term future, most electronic logbooks allow you to save and download your information in a common standardized file format such as a CSV spreadsheet, which can be imported into another app. However, as with any digital system, there are also drawbacks to consider. Limited connectivity may mean that you may not be able to access the logbook when you need it such as during a checkride oral exam, or you may need to login to the school or examiners’s WiFi connection. Still, the convenience and efficiency of an electronic logbook cannot be ignored. With the ability to easily generate reports and backed up copies, the benefits for many pilots far outweigh the drawbacks.


Conclusion: which do you choose?

Ultimately, the decision of whether to use a paper or electronic logbook is up to each individual pilot. Both methods have their own set of advantages and disadvantages that must be weighed before making a choice. Paper logbooks offer pilots the tangible benefit of having a physical record with an instructor’s signature on it, while digital logbooks provide convenience and efficiency in tracking hours and generating reports. It’s important to think carefully about which method best suits your needs and bear in mind that your instructor may also have strong feelings based on experience and preferences about which path you eventually choose.

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