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Our flight school taught us to print out some documents relevant to flight preparation and take them onboard the aircraft: This usually included weight & balance as well as takeoff/landing performance at dep./dest. airports.

I believe this was established as best practice, but not mandated by SERA. Am I required to have paper versions of certain documents onboard the aircraft at all times?

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  1. Weight & Balance:

SERA Annex VII (Part-NCO)
Non-commercial operations with other than complex-motor-powered aircraft
Subpart C: AIRCRAFT PERFORMANCE AND OPERATING LIMITATIONS
NCO.POL.100 Operating limitations – all aircraft

During any phase of operation, the loading, the mass and, the centre of gravity (CG) position of the aircraft shall comply with any limitation specified in the AFM or equivalent document.

and

SERA Annex VII (Part-NCO)
Non-commercial operations with other than complex-motor-powered aircraft
Subpart A: GENERAL REQUIREMENTS
NCO.GEN.135 Documents, manuals and information to be carried

The following documents, manuals and information shall be carried on each flight as originals or copies unless otherwise specified:

(1) the AFM, or equivalent document(s);
(2) the original certificate of registration;
(3) the original certificate of airworthiness (CofA);
(4) the noise certificate, if applicable;
(5) the list of specific approvals, if applicable;
(6) the aircraft radio licence, if applicable;
(7) the third party liability insurance certificate(s);
(8) the journey log, or equivalent, for the aircraft;
(9) details of the filed ATS flight plan, if applicable;
(10) current and suitable aeronautical charts for the route area of the proposed flight and all routes along which it is reasonable to expect that the flight may be diverted;
(11) procedures and visual signals information for use by intercepting and intercepted aircraft;
(12) the MEL or CDL, if applicable; and
(13) any other documentation that may be pertinent to the flight or is required by the States concerned with the flight.

So, per SERA, the weight & balance sheet does not need to be carried on-board. Pre-flight weight & balance calculations must show that the airplane remains within loading limits from takeoff weight to landing weight.

  1. Paper & Digital Versions:

In January 2022, EASA published their first Guidance on Carriage of Electronic Documents. It clarifies that the document lists:

CAT.GEN.MPA.180 of Annex IV (Part-CAT) to Commission Regulation (EU) No 965/20123 establishes the list of documents to be carried on board aircraft performing commercial air transport (CAT) operations. Similar lists can be found in NCC.GEN.140, NCO.GEN.135 and SPO.GEN.140.

can be either paper or digital versions. The conclusion of the Guidance on Carriage of Electronic Documents reads:

The Air Operations Rules mandate the carriage of certain documents on board aircraft. In some cases, the rules require these documents to be originals or certified true copies. However, the rules do not prescribe a specific format for these documents, which means that electronic/digital documents are fully acceptable.

So while it is up to EU member states to make sure their digitally issued aircraft-related documents are secure (digital signature, etc.), they would comply with SERA.

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