Lost logbooks - maintenance records
During a recent email contact, a member stated he was buying a 1946 Piper Cub. He noted that the maintenance logs from 1946-1949 were lost, missing, or otherwise destroyed. He also noted the finance company he selected requires complete original logs in order to lend money for the purchase. His question was - how can this be resolved?

Unfortunately, there are some problems that cannot be resolved. This is one such example. Keep in mind that aircraft logbooks, while they do detail the entire maintenance history of an aircraft, are commonly the ONLY record of maintenance. There is no back-up copy sent to FAA, for example. The chances are that those four years of records were in one book, and that book was lost sometime during the intervening 70 years. There is no way reconstruct every item that was in that book without a back-up record or copy (which is a real good idea, by the way! It works for pilot logbooks as well). The finance company will have to come up with plan B, or just refuse to lend money for the purchase.

Interestingly, for FAA purposes, this is not too big of a deal. Most maintenance record items are what are known as temporary records. Once a task has been superseded at a later time, the previous one is no longer required to be kept and may be removed from the logs. This is usually not done, of course, but could be. Tasks like battery replacements, oil and filter changes, tube and tire replacements, annual inspections, brake pad replacements, etc., are all temporary records. Some permanent records, on the other hand, are sent to FAA Aircraft Registry. Tasks like major repairs and alterations. These do become a permanent history of an aircraft noted in a place other than the logbooks, and can be reconstructed.

One final thought - try to obtain the CD from the FAA that contains all the information that the FAA has on that aircraft, it may possibly contain some information you are seeking. No guarantees, however, the cost is only $10.00.

AOPA's PIC can be reached at 800-872-2672 or pilotassist@aopa.org M-F 830-600 ET, if you have any questions about lost logbooks and maintenance recording.