Pilots record their flying time in a logbook for personal, professional and certification reasons. Logbooks are also kept for aircraft and engines.
Pilots record - or log - their flights for various reasons.
Student pilots start logging their flight time because most countries require a minimum number of hours spent flying in various conditions before the student is allowed to take the final flight test. The logbook proves to the examiner that they have flown the required amount of time.
After that, most pilots continue logging their flight time for a variety of reasons:
- For personal information and satisfaction
- For advanced certifications that also require minimum flight times
- To document currency (e.g. night currency, instrument currency)
- For insurers who require minimum flight times
- For employers who require detailed logs of flight time
Many pilots keep a paper logbook, but electronic logging tools are now common. In some countries (like the USA) an instructor must endorse (sign) a logbook to certify that a student has completed certain tasks or reached certain goals; this is almost always done on paper.
There's no international standard or format for logging flight time, and private pilots can use any format they choose. Professional pilots often have to submit logs to their employer in a specific format, in addition to any personal log they might have.
Aircraft, engines and sometimes avionics systems also have logbooks that record maintenance, repairs, software updates, compliance with safety directives and other essential information. Because these logs provide the complete history of the aircraft, they're usually the first thing to check when buying a second-hand aircraft.
Use this tag for questions about how pilots log their flying time; maintaining aircraft or engine logs; legal requirements for logging etc.
- Pilot logbook (Wikipedia)