In a recent NTSB opininion, Administrator v. Sugden, the Board affirmed a 90 day suspension of the pilot’s airman certificate for violations of FAR’s 91.405(b) and 91.407(a)(1)-(2). In that case, prior to flying an aircraft after maintenance was performed on the aircraft, the pilot “failed to independently ensure that the required maintenance entries were recorded in the logbook…when, in fact, the required entries had not been made.” The Board went on to note that in a similar circumstance such as a preflight inspection, “[t]hat maintenance personnel also failed in their duties illustrates the importance of respondent’s function; it does not excuse his conduct.”
This case illustrates the responsibility a pilot has to inspect aircraft logbooks after maintenance has been performed and prior to first flight to confirm that the appropriate entries have been made. How does a non-A&P pilot know what to look for in the aircraft logbooks? Well, first and foremost, the pilot should make sure that the logbook entry states that the aircraft is returned to service. Beyond that, the nature and extent of the logbook entries will necessarily depend upon the work the maintenance shop performed.
Reputable shops err on the conservative side and provide detailed logbook entries for the maintenance they perform. Additionally, if you as a pilot are unsure of what entries are required and whether the appropriate entries have been made, ask the A&P to explain the entries to you. Not only will this educate you, but it will also give you an opportunity to confirm that the entries have in fact been made and not inadvertantly omitted. After all, if you are going to fly an aircraft after maintenance has been performed, you can be held responsible if the required entries were not made.