Paula Williams: This episode will be full of harrowing, cautionary tales about how to destroy an aircraft without destroying the aircraft. I’m Paula Williams an Aviation Marketing Consultant with ABCI. And you’re watching, or listening to, Contrails and Cocktails. Of course, whenever you get two or more very smart aviation people together in a room, the stories are going to start flying. And when you start mixing cocktails, things start to get really fun. We wanted to recreate that experience in a podcast.
Our guest this week is Larry Hinebaugh. Twenty years ago, Larry’s maintenance consulting company, the Aviation Consulting Group, was in full swing, having already been an A&P for over two decades, including several years as a field service rep with Gulfstream Aerospace, being the director of maintenance for Caesars World flying department, and accomplishing multiple VIP aircraft installations as a customer representative. He found himself doing what every independent VIP aircraft maintenance consultant at the time does; auditing, aircraft logbooks, and looking for information to prove its airworthiness and value on behalf of a potential buyer. And he hated it. Why are aircraft logbooks so difficult?
Fast forward to today, and many aircraft logbooks later, Larry still feels the same way. Only now, he’s spoken with enough aircraft maintenance people to know that he’s not alone. In fact, most maintenance people involved in regularly researching and auditing aircraft log books and records, truly hate logbooks. Why? Because the condition of logbooks is almost always horrific. The administration of aircraft records seems to be only a necessary evil in the minds of maintenance technicians. And so it is treated as such. And of course, there are many reasons why this is true, but none is truly justifiable.
With an average set of aircraft logbooks proving time and time again to be valued as much as 30 to 50% of the value of an aircraft itself. And with both the safety and the airworthiness of the aircraft dependent on them as an industry, we should find this completely unacceptable. So, Larry formed the foundation for Business Aircraft Records excellence, or BAR for short. This is an aircraft record for it is truly excellent in aircraft record-keeping which should be the goal of our industry.
With that in mind, his intention is to improve aircraft record-keeping practices through professional education and technology awareness. He believes that improving aircraft record-keeping will not only benefit business aviation but will, in the end, also enhance the image of the aircraft maintenance professional.
Contrails and Cocktails, of course, are sponsored by Global Aircraft Group. Global Aircraft Group offers desktop appraisals, expert witnesses, and pre-buy inspections. The founder is located in New England, and he travels free of charge to anyone in New England who has a situation that needs the services. And that might be an aircraft appraisal, aircraft transaction, estate statement, a divorce, a legal situation, or something requiring his services as an expert witness in a court situation. Whatever it is, if it’s a problem involving aircraft values, Mark can solve it.
Mark Parry is the president and founder of Global Aircraft Group. He has many years of experience in corporate aviation and a diverse roster of clients. He has unparalleled access to professional resources which helps the organization achieve positive returns on his clients’ investments and capital. Prior to establishing the Global Aircraft Group, Mark worked for Bombardier in numerous capacities, including sales, maintenance, completions, and pre-purchase inspections. He was employed by Lockheed Advanced Development Systems, which is better known as Skunk Works, under Kelly Johnson.
Mark holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts in Management. He is a senior certified aircraft appraiser and member of the professional aircraft appraiser organization, or PAAO. And lastly, he’s a licensed airframe and powerplant mechanic. Mark also studied at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover. So you get legal and technical all in the same guy.
Without further ado, let’s get these very smart people in a room and see what happens in this episode.
Okay, welcome to this week’s episode of Contrails and Cocktails. I’m Paula Williams with ABCI. We help aviation companies sell more of their products and services. And we are here today with two of my favorite people, which is going to make it a really fun conversation.
Mark Parry: Yeah. Hi, it’s Mark Parry founder of Global Aircraft Group. I do certified aircraft appraisals, expert witnesses, museum evaluations, IRS aircraft evaluations, and aviation insurance claims.
Paula: Fantastic. Our guest this week is Larry Hinebaugh.
Larry Hinebaugh: I’m Larry Hinebaugh. I’m working with Paula right now as the Executive Director of the Foundation for Business Aircraft Records Excellence. It started out nonprofit after spending many years working on another company, which is electronic logbooks, and that was the result of my aviation career being an A&P Mechanic since 1976. I’m independent, I’ve done everything that is the normal maintenance independent route of tech appraisals, pre-purchase inspections, a lot of logbook audits, aircraft completions, heavy maintenance programs, that type of thing. So all of that led me to where I am today, which is frustrated with the current affairs of business aircraft records and maybe trying to do something about it anyway. Maybe we’ll be successful. We’ll see.
Paula: Right. Mark, and so you had frustrations with logbooks as well.
Mark: Yeah, I’ve reviewed a lot of them. Proud readers are the worst.
Paula: That’s fantastic. Larry, maybe you could bring us up to speed with what’s happened recently about aircraft records and what’s the latest.
Larry: Okay. Before I get started, I have to tell you- I wrote an article in AMT magazine the last issue. It was about this state of logbooks and how we got here. I called people just like you because I also would audit and correct logbooks. I called them merchants of airworthiness that can prove an airplane is airworthy. But there are not a whole lot of people in the world that can actually look at a logbook and clean all the information needs to prove that. A guy actually called me up, and he said “I don’t know whether to love you or hate you, merchants of airworthiness”. But I think I’d go against that phrase. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that.
Paula: Merchants of airworthiness. That is actually a good phrase, I think. They are looking at determination. You’re making a judgment. So, yeah, absolutely.
Larry: Yeah. I mean, the classic one is just exactly what Mark’s doing, is going in and auditing the logbook, and pulling out everything you need to do to prove to somebody that the airplanes airworthy. On a pre-purchase inspection, which I got involved in a lot, it’s proving to a buyer that he’s buying an airplane that he can fly and not sit in the hangar.
Paula: I guess, as a layperson thinking about this if I have an airplane that I want to sell, I’m thinking more about the condition of the airplane. But, Mark might make a judgment about that airplane and say “It is worth half as much as it would have been because of the state of the documentation”. Is that ever happened, Mark? That you’ve seen?
Mark: Well, occasionally, lost logbooks to the aircraft were a problem. The other thing is, any kind of damage is literally almost never mentioned, very seldom. A lot of times, I’ll pick up a problem with an engine. Then if I go back into the airframe on that same date, then I’ll see, that landing gear was out, 10 or 15 skin changes, that kind of thing. They will never say, you have to go into it and I also do a 337 search looking for 337 to match up. I do an NTSP action report search also, make sure the aircraft wasn’t totaled. There are four different ranges of damage. So, it’s not something to really be afraid of per se. But your client wants to know, he needs to know that info. Boy, it really gets buried.
Mark: They’re always hidden.
Larry: We did a casual survey, not a real formal one. But we called a lot of different large law firms around the US that do a lot of aircraft acquisitions that type of thing. And the common number kept coming back, that about one out of every five sales has a logbook problem that they have to [inaudible] [static]. Not a pretty considerable number.
Paula: One in five.
Larry: One of five.
Paula: That’s crazy.
Mark: Right, plus liens. I don’t really do that as much in the appraisal process or make an assumption unless the aircraft is lean-free. But on the sales side, you pick up a lot of liens also.
Paula: Right. Working with Larry, he has some really great stories about things that have happened with aircraft logbooks. I don’t know if you have a favorite or two that you’d like to share.
Larry: I don’t know. You’re right, Paula. There are a lot of them. There are a lot of stories about logbooks and the damage that they caused a cell, or an individual, or whatever. But the one that came up recently was the story, and it’s getting pretty old now, but it was about a VIP 727. This was 20 years ago, the airplane still had quite a bit of value, and it was a very nice 727 set up with Ox tanks, VIP interior, winglets, and all that. It was going through a seat check, so they were out running the airplane close to the hangar. And they didn’t realize that they had not selected the hydraulics on for the brakes, so they ran it up, not the full power, but enough power that it jumped to the one and only chalk they had, the airplane started creeping into the hangar and they had no brakes to stop it.
So they are playing and ran right into the side of the hangar. And it did lay down [static] and it deep into the radar unit, all of which were repairable, the airplane would have been fine. But on the other side of the wall of the hangar that the airplane hit was the inspection office. And when that airplane pierced the hangar, pierced the water line for the fire suppression system, and so all of the records were drenched in water. And by the time they got the water turned off, the records had been ruined.
So even though this was an airplane that still had quite a bit of value, they ended up totaling the airplane because they just couldn’t put back all the information that they needed, the history of the airplane. Here we have a perfectly good 727 totaled from the lack of logbooks.
Paula: It totaled itself. I mean, that’s the hysterical thing about that, or the tragic thing about that story, I guess depending on how you’re looking at it. It didn’t even hurt itself that bad but it hurt its own logbooks to the point where they were unusable. That’s a great story.
Larry: There are all those stories. I’m sure Mark experienced it too. It’s the one to take care of the logbooks as airplanes in a pre-buy and then they end up leaving them in the trunk of the rental car and they’re lost forever. I can’t tell you how many pre-purchase inspections I’ve done where pieces of paperwork that justify a life-limited item on the airplane can be found so that item needs to be changed things for expensive. So for the owner, they usually don’t really realize it because it’s in the noise of the rest of this stuff, but most airplane parts are pricey.
Larry: You replace it because you don’t have a piece of paper which is a tragedy.
Paula: Right. Or there have been situations where logbooks have been held hostage over a dispute or a disagreement, right?
Larry: Yes, absolutely. That’s actually what got me started in converting paper to electronic is, I was doing some 135 conformity work, actually for Clay Lacey. And I found out that I could scan these records and text search and really increase my efficiency at this. Eighty percent of the information I could find in four hours instead of four days. But Clay said, “You were backing up those records?” And I said, “Well, yes. Actually, I am, because I’m making electronic copies”. And he said, “Let me tell you this story about this Learjet in my hangar”. He had a Lear 35, that he had bought at auction because it had no logbooks. This was many years ago too, but I think he paid like 600,000 dollars for Lear 35 back then.
And he was going to part it out. But before he had a chance to get his maintenance people after it, the part out of the airplane, he got a phone call from somebody that said, “I understand you. You’re the owner of serial number so and so on”. Clay said, “Yes, I am”. He said, “Would you like the logbooks?”. Clay said, “What do you mean, would I like the logbooks? I bought that airplane at auction because it had no logbooks, but you have the logbooks?”. And this guy said, “Well, yes. I’m a 145 repair station doing maintenance on the airplane. They came and repossessed the airplane right out of my hangar. And he said, ever asked me for the logbooks”. And he said, “You know what, I’d give the logbooks to anybody that’s willing to pay the maintenance bill.”
Paula: Oh my gosh.
Larry: Like a had a couple hundred thousand dollar maintenance bill and ended up with a set of logbooks. And this was 10 years ago that I did this work for Clay but at that time that airplane is so flying played. They had it in 135 services for probably five or six years.
Paula: Oh my gosh. So he got five or six years of charter out of this airplane. It was unflyable.
Larry: Yes. And for all I know, he’s probably still using it.
Paula: Oh my gosh. That’s crazy. I know you’ve written a lot about why people do this or why people overlook the logbooks. But I guess, it’s just like the last thing to be thought of, and the last thing to be done in any transaction.
Larry: Yes. My experience is nobody wants to think about logbooks or look at logbooks or have anything to do with logbooks until all of a sudden they become almost the most critical thing there is in the cell of an airplane.
Larry: Probably, when you go to appraise an airplane, the first thing you say is, “I’m going to need to look at the logbooks”. Probably, people have looked at those logbooks for years.
Mark: There is a legal case in general aviation where the guy who owned the repair station, they were just doing runway work. And somehow, these clients were gone. Those are 182 turbos but still, he was being sued by the owner and caught the value of about 40%. They did have quite a few records, so they made it airworthy, and rebuilt it, they had gone back about a year or so. And so, he was still flying aircraft but as far as I know, he went to court and had to make up the difference. There’s an insurance company that did and it was at least on the aircraft’s 40% of the value. Well, I was curious, Larry, about your business jets and stuff that are on camp. They have those records already through camp. They’re a little bit less of a problem?
Larry: Well, that’s really a dynamic question, Mark. Believe it or not, I get asked that a lot. First of all, as far as just the camp goes, Camp said, this AD note complied on such and such a day. The FAA says that’s not acceptable. The only thing that proves that an AD note was done on an airplane, is a part 43.9 logbook entry. And so, Camp is as good as the input. And so, it does not necessarily reliable on the FAA, won’t rely on it at all for anything. So now, take the next step and say, “Well, okay some of them especially now, in today’s world are scanning the logbooks and sending the scanned images off the camp”. And the problem with that is, you have now made an electronic copy. So, you’re still in compliance with part 43 with respect to a copy. And the FAA does not consider an electronic copy the same as the original. It’s actually no value at all, unless, it’s kept in the security system and advisory circular 120-78A, is the FAA saying, here’s the sign kind of security system that we want to see the record. So if this is something that you had a maintenance event, you had control of you were there, and you want to print a copy and as an A&P mechanic testify that the copy is exactly the same as the original, they’re okay. But if you can’t do that, that copy’s value lessen, as far as the FAA is concerned.
Paula: So what’s the best thing to do to prevent these kinds of problems? Or what’s the best way to go about this if you have an aircraft that has records from heck to breakfast and everything in between? What’s the best way to go about ensuring that aircrafts’ value and getting it all together and making that all happen?
Larry: The only guaranteed way to do this with paper is to have an A&P mechanic there when it’s scanned that can testify that the scanned images are the same as the electronic images or the same as the paper images. And then put all those electronic images into an AC 120-78A, compliant computer system.
Paula: Electronic record system.
Larry: And sending them of email to the camp is not doing it. Keep it as a PDF on your PC, or in your office as not doing, it needs to go into a secure system. So it comes back out you don’t have to worry about, “Was I there? Do I know that’s a copy of the original for sure or not”. An A&P mechanic testified, that it went in and went into a secure system and it’s going to be secure coming out.
Paula: Yes. Cool. And there are some companies that do this. I don’t know if we want to mention any names of any companies that do this.
Larry: I started doing this, I guess 20 years ago now. That company was V-Log, that’s all and I got started together as Paula to do some marketing for that company. That company is now gone but it’s changed. It really changed and is not necessarily gone. It’s now Vision Aircraft Records. And a lot of people are realizing that it’s a really good deal to have their logbook entries on the cloud where they can be accessed by anyone from any location.
Well, there are a lot of companies I knew. Blue Tail is doing this something similar, there are plane logs, and there are half a dozen companies out there that have electronic logbooks, but not all of them are going to cater to maintenance logbooks, which I think are unique in the world of logbooks. But because of the FAs, part 43 staff has to go into the logbook, and that magic signature of an A&P mechanic. It’s becoming more and more popular. Well, I think let’s just go electronic logbooks, forget this paper. We have 100 years of paper we have to deal with so it would not go away.
Paula: That’s true. So, Mark, you do desktop appraisals, I assume that has something to do with, obviously, they have to have electronic logbooks in order to make that work, right?
Mark: Yes. I don’t do a lot of those. Usually, they opted to have me go and look [crosstalk] no-through all logbooks. But if you do, then you would have to. Someone has to scan those in that way.
Paula: The on-site. Right. Okay.
Larry: And that is kind of the stumbling block right now. Because scanning is not a difficult thing to do, it’s tedious and it’s insanely boring. Most people in aviation have enough jobs to do, that they just don’t have time to scan records. As an industry, we just keep pressing on, making more and more and more people’s records, and not scanning the information that’s already there, simply because there’s no time to do it.
Paula: Yes. People keep doing what they’ve always done because they don’t have time to learn something different, right?
Paula: Are you putting a course together to change that? I think at the beginning, as people are starting their careers, do you want to mention a little bit about that?
Larry: Sure, we could. Because that is a big thing of business aircraft record. So, there are really two problems with logbooks these days. And Mark, tell me if you feel differently about what I’m saying, but the two problems are one, the way logbooks look, because as many different individuals as there are going to do a logbook, that’s how many different ways the logbooks are done. Because of the Federal Aviation regulations, if you read them and you understand them, you realize they’re very specific on exactly what content they want.
But they don’t know at all how to do it. So that’s up to your own devices. And like I said, as many people come up with the way of keeping logbooks, that’s how many different logbooks there are. The logbooks come in, not just the books, but the page is inside the books. All different sizes, all different formats, all different ways of doing things. So, that’s one of the problems. The other problem is a lot of people don’t really understand what is the necessary information. All of our training these days comes from tribal knowledge, right?
Paula: Yeah. From the DOM.
Larry: Yeah, that guy over there will show you how to do those. And so, a lot of information isn’t even that good. And if you’re a qualified aircraft mechanic working on the airplane, the last thing you want to do is go down the street to a law firm to have them read the FARs for you. So that they can tell you what they say because they’re written in government legalese, or not written for people to know what to do. They’re very ambiguous. There’s that issue.
I’m developing training courses, not just for electronic logbooks, there are actually 10 modules, and only one of them is talking about the valuable of converting paper logbooks to electronic logbooks. But the other nine are all about the common documents we use every day, so 43.9 and 0.11 entries, write 8130s, TCs, STCs, form 337, all those things. I decided to put it into a formal course, because the more I investigated why logbooks are the way they are, the more I began to realize that there’s no formal training on that. You’re advocating being the mechanic that goes to school gets 1,970 hours of training, which is a data dump, and then the mind of a young adult or…
Paula: Eighteen-year-old, 19-year-old.
Larry: And that 1,970 hours, everything from how you rebuild a piston engine to laws of aerodynamics, 30 hours is paperwork. They learn enough that maybe the test question on one of their test is about 337s, and they can check the right box. But they don’t really understand the paperwork that’s going to come when they get a job and again OJT, and maybe learn the correct way. Chances are he’ll learn the incorrect one. I started these formal courses to take off from there. I’m not trying to compete with the 147 schools that are teaching this stuff. I want to say “Look, here’s the right way to do all these different things that you’re going to be doing every day, and using every day in aviation”.
Paula: Right. And that can be OJT or it can be, ideally, in the course, before they become dangerous, and part of the world, and of the ecosystem.
Larry: Maybe two years ago, I had a phone call from a director of maintenance on a 135 operator that had 13 airplanes. It’s a pretty significant guide, with 13 airplanes. He called me, and he said, “You know, I need to understand the 8130s better. Which one am I supposed to be keeping in the part of the record and [static] sky, let go of all of my 8130s, or in Manila folders attached with the work order? I’m confused. So let’s have a conversation about it”.
Talking about any prettiest[?], which I think is a really dynamic conversation because a lot of people don’t understand them. And Mark just hit on light, and 8130 is a recommended document, it’s not a required document from the FAA. For somebody that can issue it, proves that the component is airworthy.
If they have the authority to say that, if they don’t, there are other ways to scan that cabin and so they do. And 40 years ago, when I started in aviation, there were no 8130s, there were just serviceable packs. And if you had a major repair to do, you did it under 337, and you’ve got to feel approval. Fast forward to today, FAA wants to see 8130s. They want to know if the part was installed and if the airplane was airworthy. And they don’t want to get failed approvals anymore because airplanes are very complex and they can’t train their inspectors on how they handle every complexity of every airplane out there. Things that we took for granted 40 years ago, they’re just getting a lot tougher to do these days. And a lot of people do them correctly, and that is what Mark pointed out. A lot of people see that as an opportunity to work the system too.
Mark: And to work in what’s going on.
Paula: Right. And never let a good opportunity go to waste if you’re a good person or a bad person. There are lots of ways to exploit those. Move on to cocktail hour.
Paula: I’m really curious about this one. You started naming ingredients, so I’m going, oh, that might be actually kind of cool because sometimes things sound terrible, and then they turn out to be really fantastic.
Mark: Well, this is an early 1900s aviation cocktail. It’s making a comeback and it was sent to me by a friend of mine. I joined the Old Saybrook Sailing Club, the spring down in Saybrook, Connecticut.
Mark: And I have a small 15-foot skiff, and I like to kayak. For the group, so it was all that, but then if you volunteer or you’re interested, they’ll take you out on the big boats too. I’ve been kind of fun, sailing a couple of times. And then, the person that gave me this trigger, I’m talking about the podcast, her name’s Pat. I want to thank her. She has a yacht that she caftans herself. Anyway, she sent me this drink here. My recommendation is that you have this made for you somewhere. The ingredients are expensive. It’s well worth it. I think it’ll be good. I’ve never had it before, but that would be my recommendation. Anyways, here we go.
Paula: That’s a very interesting-looking picture.
Mark: Yes. Well, I told you. I’m in Omaha.
Paula: Yes, at your dad’s house.
Mark: Yes. So there’s no shaker here. My sister lives down the road. This is what she had. Anyway, this Empress 1908 Indigo gin, there’s a little bit of a purple color. And it’s four teaspoons. Guesstimate on that. I’m pretty good at guesstimating.
Paula: You can tell the true bartender because they know their measurements in a standard glass.
Mark: So, the recipe that calls out for a gin of your choice, with a crème de [crosstalk] violette. But if you bought pretty much the same cost, the Indigo gin, you can do it that way. But you can do it either. And then, four tablespoons of the Indigo gin, and 1 tablespoon of Maraschino liquor.
Paula: Violette? I love Maraschino cherries.
Paula: John hates them. We get along great.
Larry: You get all the cherries that way.
Paula: I get all the cherries.
Mark: Lemon on hand squeeze, one and a half tablespoons of lemon juice. Slice. And it’s actually it. Let’s give it a little bit of [inaudible].
Paula: Can you do the Tom Cruise cocktail thing, flip it behind your back and all that.
Mark: Yeah, I add more of them[?]. Looks like an antique.
Paula: That is really cool, actually.
Mark: Yes. In the middle, more than I thought. And I bring this over to my sister’s house. Plugging in.
Larry: Looks like it worked.
Mark: And then you garnish that. Well, it doesn’t say to do the lemon but I’m going to do it anyway.
Paula: It’s pretty. It’s a nice red and yellow and goes with it really well.
Mark: Yes. And then the cold which looks to re-do black cocktail cherries. Wild Italian…
Mark: Armenian cherries. I tried one earlier. They’re really good versus those ones typically get.
Mark: These are really dark.
Larry: I personally like dark cherries. I’m not a gin drinker, I prefer Bourbon Brice, but dark cherry is no way better with that than and then…
Mark: Yes. I’m the same, to tell you the truth.
Paula: I probably redeem the drink right there with those cherries.
Mark: I wanted to do this one for my friend Pat who took me out on her boat and was kind enough to share this. So we should taste it, and give it a quick test.
Paula: This is the first time you tasted this, right?
Mark: Yes. Not bad.
Mark: Not too sweet. I put a little maybe too much, I’m not a gin guy, so I can pick the gin up. Yes, it’s not bad.
Paula: Great. Well, cheers.
Larry: Now, let’s cheers.
Paula: There you go. It’s before 5 where we are, it’s after five where you are.
Larry: There we go.
Mark: I would recommend that at a restaurant with a steak.
Paula: Nice. And then you can get them to do all these with all the expensive ingredients on the back bar, and not have to buy them all yourself. Smart.
Mark: Yes, definitely, I would say really…
Larry: That’s kind of a popular aviation drink, anyway. As you say, it’s got an aviation name, I’m not a gin drinker either, but there is a gin called aviation gin. I’ve always seen that as the gin part of that drink. But I think you’ll find that in a lot of the finer restaurants that cater to aviation grounds.
Paula: Exactly, there’s Ryan Reynolds gin.
Mark: I guess I’m for that.
Paula: That’s fantastic. Well, I really appreciate it. Let’s just go around one more time and tell people where you can find us. And we’ll also have the recipe for the drink so that people can get that on the podcast.
Mark: Mark Parry, global aircraft group out of Bradley International, in Windsor Locks Connecticut, covers all of New England in the US and internationally, as a sort of certified aircraft appraiser, expert witness, insurance evaluations, IRS evaluations, and aviation insurance claims, and free advice.
Larry: I’m Larry Hinebaugh the executive director of Aviation for Business Aircraft Records Excellence, just Business Aircraft Records for short. We have a website www.businessaircraftrecords.org because we are a 501C non-profit. But there are a lot of articles up there. There are some templates for AD Matrix 337s, even in a logbook entry, and that type of thing. We do the tips of the week which is something we put out every week on Facebook and LinkedIn, on how to do a particular maintenance entry, a little better, or something to think about. So, we’re all about just trying to get the industry to improve the way we do business or proprieties.
Paula: Absolutely. Paula Williams, ABCI. We helped aviation companies sell more of their products and services. Thanks, you guys. I think this was a great episode. I’m really happy we made this one because this one is a really natural bit, I think.
Mark: Thank you so much, Larry. And again, Paula.
Larry: Thank you, Mark.