I'm getting a checkout at a new flight school, so I don't know anything about the maintenance records of their airplanes other than this school has been in operation for some time and so I assume everything is in order. As PIC, though, I would think I would feel better seeing for myself that this plane I have never flown before is indeed up-to-date, at least in its required inspections. I've never had an urge to do this before, I've always just trusted that the flight school is running things properly, but I guess since I have quite a bit more experience since my last checkout I felt like looking into this would be judicious.

Is this overkill? Would it be taboo or send a message of distrust to the school if I asked to see the mx logs on my plane I'm getting checked out in? Does anyone make it a point to do this? Thanks in advance for your comments.

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    $\begingroup$ If they deny you then you should start worrying. $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2014 at 18:28
  • $\begingroup$ While I personally wouldn't bother, you should do that which makes you comfortable. There's also something to be said for the learning experience of finding out what maintenance is required and the recording requirements if you're not already familiar with such. $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Jun 24, 2014 at 19:45

3 Answers 3


I'd refer to FAR 91.3(a):

The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for and is the final authority as to the operation of that aircraft.

Therefore, I believe you have a duty to determine that the aircraft is properly maintained. While that doesn't mean disassembling it and checking the work yourself, I do think that its reasonable to verify that the maintenance logs have recent entries, and appear orderly.

At my old flight school, I never got any grief at all (and occasional complements) when I wanted to see the logs for some reason.

If they give you so much as an eye-roll when you ask to see the logs, that should be a cautionary sign.

I think it is also an easy way to meet the maintenance guys, and be introduced to them as a careful, thoughtful pilot. (The Mx guys likely despise "cowboy" pilots who bring back damaged equipment, and don't report it.) You'll get to know some people at the new school, and get a reputation right off the bat.

  • $\begingroup$ I like this answer; ultimately, it's your own life you take into your hands when you fly a plane, so assuming you still wish to do so there's not much I would consider "overkill" when it comes to ensuring the safety of the craft you will be flying. $\endgroup$
    – KeithS
    Jul 22, 2015 at 15:55

Is it overkill? Probably.

Schools generally do a good job maintaining their aircraft (they're used hard, but kept airworthy because if they're out of service the school is losing money). Most of what you should be concerned about is stuff you should find on a thorough preflight. You would need some specialist knowledge to determine if a log entry is a "problem" or not (absent something like "repaired right main gear attach point and installed new right main landing gear assembly" showing up).

Most of the schools/rental outfits around here keep a status sheet with the aircraft's dispatch documents so you (and they) can easily see when required time-in-service or calendar-time inspections are coming due. If there isn't one I'd make a point of asking about inspections and such to be sure they've been done, but otherwise I'd be pretty trusting.

Bear in mind that there's nothing stopping an unscrupulous school or mechanic from "pencil-whipping" inspections. An aircraft can be perfectly airworthy on paper but full of "How could they possibly have missed that?!" maintenance discrepancies when you preflight it.

Should they let you review the logs with an instructor or mechanic if you ask? I think so.
If you want to do this you should let them know in advance so they can have the logs available.

Bottom line, as PIC you need to be sure that the aircraft is in an airworthy condition (which includes compliance with required inspections, ADs, etc.) and if you feel you need to see the logs to verify that it's your call.
Reviewing the logs probably isn't a common request for casual rentals, but particularly if you're taking flight lessons there spending some time and reviewing the maintenance records for an aircraft is a great learning experience.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the learning experience. I think thats the most important point. You should know what to look at and how to interpret it. You'll only learn that from someone qualified and experienced $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Jun 25, 2014 at 8:58

I don't see it as overkill at all. Not only is it your responsibility as a pilot to verify if an aircraft is airworthy, it may save your life.

For more info on why and how to perform a deeper first-review of a new aircraft you might be thinking about flying for the first time I would strongly recommend a wonderful M-Pamphlet published by the FAAST team called "Advanced Preflight".

Advanced Preflight refers to conducting a preflight that goes beyond the normal preflight checklist. This is accomplished by obtaining a valuable maintenance history of the aircraft and developing an additional items checklist. While developing the additional items checklist requires some time, once you have developed the additional items checklist it can be used in conjunction with the aircraft’s preflight checklist for all future preflight inspections.

Using the additional items checklist discussed in this M-Pamphlet will guide you through an enhanced preflight inspection to help reduce your risk of undetected maintenance problems. This M-Pamphlet provides information to owner/operators and AMTs on

  • how to conduct a complete review of all maintenance-related data on the aircraft you operate and/or maintain,
  • the steps in extracting the valuable information from this data, and
  • how to develop an additional items checklist to be used in conjunction with the aircraft’s preflight checklist for all future preflight inspections.

Whether you are an AMT or a pilot who owns, rents, or borrows an aircraft, Advanced Preflight is for you!

For the AMT, this pamphlet will assist in conducting a records review prior to beginning an inspection on an aircraft. This is vital if the aircraft to be inspected is new to the AMT.

For the pilot, remember to always use your preflight checklist. The additional items checklist does not replace your existing preflight checklist; it only enhances its use.


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