Wondering which pilot logbook is best – Simple or subscription-based?
Excel Pilot Logbook are guests on the blog and have put together the top 9 key points to think about when considering various types of electronic pilot logbooks.
And here we go…
1. Do you need a feature-rich pilot logbook App?
If you want all of the “bells and whistles”, generally, you’re going to have to pay for them in the form of a monthly or yearly subscription.
But why do you have to pay a recurring fee? Advanced features and technologies aren’t the cheapest to develop. Usually, subscriptions include full access to customer support and regular updates throughout the life of your subscription.
However, if you just need the essentials along with a few extra conveniences, then you might be better off with a more affordable solution (that still includes support, where needed), but only charges a one-time fee.
2. Is syncing your flying logbook with mobile and other devices important?
Inputting flight times on your mobile or tablet can be really convenient at the end of your flight while you’re still in the aeroplane. You can then review your entire logbook on your computer at home.
This saves manually writing flight times and details down and eliminates errors with transposing data from one source to another.
Nowadays, it’s very typical for an electronic logbook to be able to sync between devices. However, some apps do charge extra for this feature.
3. Would you like to access your pilot logbook in any web browser?
That sounds like a handy feature. But if you only have a computer or device, then you probably don’t need to.
Free website tools like Google Sheets make it possible for you to upload spreadsheet files and view them directly in your web browser, no matter whose computer you’re on.
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4. Is importing Airline rosters essential?
Automatically importing your airline schedule at the end of your roster saves a heap of time! Although you still need to meticulously verify the details of each flight to ensure your logbook is accurate.
Generally speaking, it works great. Most apps are compatible with hundreds of Airlines around the world.
However, if you’re not an airline pilot, or you’re quite happy inputting flights yourself, then this feature probably isn’t a deal-breaker.
5. Do you want full control of your data (flights, times, airports visited etc)?
Cloud storage is incredibly helpful for automatically and safely backing up data. Every app requires some sort of connection to “the cloud” to sync, share and save data.
Although some pilots would feel more comfortable being responsible for their own data storage and protection. Spoiler alert: there are solutions available that don’t involve forced cloud-sharing and allow you to have full control of your data.
6. Completely replace your paper pilot logbook?
The first thing you’ll need to do is check to see if your country permits you to use an electronic logbook instead of a paper logbook.
Yes, it’s 2021 – technology says you should be able to – but most Aviation Regulators haven’t yet caught on and improved their regulations.
So, you may need to keep your paper logbook updated, but keep in mind that using an electronic logbook will still greatly assist with verifying Page Totals and the like.
If your Aviation Regulator permits it – that’s great – but you’ll need premium features like digital-signing in order for instructors and examiners to properly certify your electronic certificates.
7. Is printing your digital logbook necessary?
We get it. It’s hard to say goodbye to your original paper logbook. But as mentioned above, it may still be necessary to Print your logbook entries.
Most subscription Apps do allow you to print your entire logbook with ease. There are also several companies that offer a professional Printing & Binding service specifically for electronic logbooks.
8. Are you happy paying for an annual subscription or one-time fee?
Subscription costs can range from $20 – $129 USD per year. That could be upwards of $3,870 USD over the course of a 40-year career. But, if you do need the premium features mentioned (and more), that might be worth it to you.
The thing is, it doesn’t have to be that expensive. After all, it’s just a logbook. There are more affordable options available for a one-time fee (with no subscriptions) if you want a “no frills” type of logbook.
9. All Pilots should use an Electronic logbook
To be honest, an electronic logbook would be a handy tool for any type of pilot.
Private Pilots could get away with not having advanced Flight & Duty monitoring or fancy features like Automatic Importing. However, Commercial Pilots must have some means of tracking their currency for work.
Airlines typically track all of this data on your behalf, but at the end of the day, it is your responsibility to maintain specific currency and proficiency.
Still can’t decide which pilot logbook is best? Take a Quiz.
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Pilot logbok summary
There are a raft of different logbook apps to choose from and we hope this has sparked some thought and helped to clarify your logbook wants and needs.
If you’re not interested in paying expensive subscriptions and don’t need all of the bells & whistles, check out Excel Pilot Logbook – available for an affordable one-time fee (no subscriptions) and it’s yours for life.
Kudzi Chikohora is a B737 captain with over 3,000 hours of flying in Europe. He holds a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering, is a chartered engineer, and is a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
Kudzi completed his pilot training via the self-funded modular pilot training route and created kcthepilot.com to share pilot training and aviation content.