- 07 Apr 2022
- René Armas Maes
- Flight Departments
Manual logbook entries are an onerous business, requiring much time and effort – so it’s hardly surprising that Electronic Technical Logbooks are increasing in popularity. But what are the specific benefits to Business Aviation operators? Mario Pierobon explores...
Electronic Technical Logbooks (ETLs) have made their way into Business Aviation because of the need for business aircraft operators to streamline their operations and improve safety through more accurate technical records.
An ETL is primarily the “digital pendant to an aircraft technical logbook”, and is used on an electronic device, such as a tablet computer or electronic flight bag, says Mona Stuenckel, Senior Director of Digital Solutions, Automation & Technology at Lufthansa Technik.
“It covers all of the functionalities a paper logbook provides, like raising technical complaints, or tracking flight-related information.”
To understand the ETL, it’s necessary to start from the definition of ‘Tech Log Page’ (TLP), according to Hayley Russell, Marketing Manager at Conduce Mobile Aviation Solutions. “The TPL is the legal and technical record of an aircraft’s status and must be completed for every flight sector.
“This aircraft-specific book is printed in various copies. This is completed and signed by the pilot and engineer, and then a copy is ‘left on the ground’.”
Older paper-based systems require copies to be scanned and emailed – or in some cases even faxed – back to base to be manually typed into the MRO or back-office system, Russell explains.
“In this way the information from the TLP is then shared with the relevant departments. Illegible handwriting, errors and vital missing information all contribute to the inefficiency of this legacy process”, she highlights.
“An ETL, such as Conduce’s eTechLog8, replaces the industry standard paper journey, technical, defect and cabin logbooks with an application on an electronic device.”
Benefits of ETLs
Lately, ETLs are being used increasingly by airline operators, air taxi operators, and, whenever possible, private operators, notes Continuing Airworthiness Manager Sara Zerbini.
One reason is because it saves time to complete the documentation, since some fields can be automatically inserted. “Some systems allow operators to pre-fill the date and time without making mistakes, taking for example the date and time from the iPad or the electronic flight bag system,” Zerbini notes.
The ETL is also convenient because it saves space, and there is no need to keep paper copies that require distribution and can potentially be lost. “Copies of the electronically-filled pages can be sent directly to the operator, or to the handler on the ground, electronically,” she highlights.
Another interesting aspect of ETL has to do with the handling of technical issues, Zerbini adds. “If, for example, a pilot is starting operations with a problem, or they’re under the Minimum Equipment List (MEL) and a spare component is required upon landing, the information can be sent in advance, and can therefore be provided upon the aircraft’s arrival, along with a mechanic.”
ETLs: Does Business Aviation Need Them?
Increasing the efficiency of the logbook process, ETLs accelerate flight preparation and allow operators to directly enter the data in the Maintenance Information System (MIS) without delay, while eliminating manual effort and ensuring the data is readable and standardized.
“The same benefits are experienced by Business Aviation operators, though considering they usually operate smaller fleets and not on a scheduled basis, the effect and thus the need may be less significant,” Stuenckel admits.
However, from an environmental point of view, “process efficiency and the use digital state-of the art solutions has brought an increase in interest from operators in the Business Aviation industry”. That increase has been noticeable over the past few months, according to Stuenckel.
“Adoption and implementation of an electronic logbook is a necessity to remain competitive in the industry,” argues John Stone, Vice President of Product Management at Ultramain Systems, who adds that there is certainly a need for ETL in Business Aviation.
“For example, the same benefits of using the Ultramain ELB that are experienced by Part 121 operators can be experienced by Business Aviation operators, too”, he highlights.
The Ultramain ELB is electronic technical logbook software that fully replaces the paper technical log, cabin log, journey log, damage log, fueling logs, and more (including signatures), according to Stone. “eTechLog8 has a logical workflow and uses mandatory fields so you cannot miss entering key information,” Russell says.
“One of the benefits of an electronic system is that back-office teams have real-time, read-only access to the ETL in the cockpit via middleware, such as Conduce’s eCentral8.
This enables proactive maintenance planning and support, reducing delays as teams no longer need to wait for the aircraft to return, or for manual workflows such as emailing a copy of the TLPs, to understand the status of the fleet.
“This can be especially useful for Part 135 charter providers,” Russell highlights, “as they often don’t know when the aircraft will next be back at base, and therefore when they might next get access to the paper log.”
In addition to the ETL, fully integrated companion apps, which can be key for business aircraft operators (for whom the status of the interior can be just as important as the aircraft itself), prevent time consuming data entry replication, reducing costs as turnarounds become more efficient, Russell notes.
“ETL adopters also enjoy a strong return on investment (ROI), because paper systems are expensive when you factor in secure storage, printing costs, logbook purchase, and the cost of entering and processing the data, researching mistakes, and tracking down missing information,” Russell concludes.
“Conduce estimates that 50% of the cost benefit from running an ETL comes from the seamless integration with the MRO and back-office systems.”
ETL is indeed developing critical mass within Business Aviation, because of the process efficiencies that it brings. Next time, we will review what is preventing the wider adoption of ETL, who is responsible for ETL implementation, and the additional efficiencies ETLs bring.
Learn more about ETLs in BizAv: Overcoming the Challenges on AvBuyer.