Logging Flight time the right way - Who is responsible?

Logging Flight Time, what is the right way, and who is responsible?

I have noticed that most students make no effort to complete their own log books, much less learn the right way to do it. To fix this, I require my students to take responsiblity for their own log books from the very first flight. I don't sign it until they've filled it out correctly. This accomplishes two tasks: it teaches students the responsibility, and secondly, they learn the right methods for recording times for the various types of flight conditions. The only person responsible for the accuracy of a logbook is the person to whom it belongs even if that person is a student. As a flight instructor, you have the responsibility to ensure that what you sign is correct.

There is only one "right way" to log flight time, that is to record the clock time when you first pull collective to take-off to a hover, and again when you land after that leg of flight. The sum of recorded clock time (total minutes / 60) for a given flight is normally then rounded to the next whole tenth of an hour.

There are some common problems with logging time especially with new pilots (students). Most importantly, students are taught to just record the Hobbs and use this time as the flight time which is not correct, especially when they transition to the commercial environment later. Also, many pilots simply forget to check the time, sometimes they just don't have a watch. The later isn't much of an excuse these days since nearly everyone has a cell phone from which they can log their times. The best way to counter any of these issues is simply to require recording the time from the very first flight. No collective pull until the time has been recorded, period.

Following are some other methods to reasonably accurately estimate your actual flight times when you forget to record the time from a clock:

  • If you're flying in a training environment, including a student practicing in the area of an airport, roughly 1.3 times a collective Hobbs will be very close. If you're flying with an oil pressure Hobbs, or battery Hobbs, then the Hobbs time itself will be accurate.
  • If you're flying a collective Hobbs aircraft on other normal commercial or recreational flying not in the the flight training environment or the area of an airport practicing training maneuvers, then 1.05 times a collective Hobbs will be very accurate. Again, with a oil pressure or battery Hobbs, then the Hobbs will be very accurate.

It is the responsibility of the pilot to ensure that the flight time is recorded both in the pilot log, and in the aircraft log as closely as possible to what was actually flown. The only "right" method is with a clock.

Flight time and maintenance time are two completely different times. Many pilots don't realize this, but if you are doing autorotations for example, a collective Hobbs will not be recording time during the autorotation when the collective is down. Because of this fact, the hobbs time and the flight time will typically vary by as much as 1.3 to 1 per hour on training flights. It depends greatly on the operation that was being performed. In the event of a failed Hobbs, clock time is the only method to ensure the correct maintenance times are recorded in the aircraft logs.

I was working with a pilot not long ago who was logging even ground time in between legs of flight so as to get more "flight time". This is falsification, and nothing will get your certificate suspended quicker if you get caught. Also, it gets you distrusted; your word becomes worthless. Like I always say, anyone can talk bad about you, but you are the only one who can ruin your integrity, and you have no greater asset.

Get your boots

Bullshit boots that is, when you hear about those really high time pilots. If someone feels compelled to boast about many thousands of hours of flight experience, they are probably beginning a line of BS that you will need really tall boots to listen to.

Recently, I had the pleasure of conversation with two pilots who let me know that they had multiple thousands of hours of experience. One had over 54,000 hours, while the other brags of 19,000 hours. Both of these pilots were in their early 50's, and both probably began estimating flight time as opposed to logging flight time some years ago. Even more, they have probably forgotten that some of us can still do math. I was recently observing a newly hired instructor teaching one of my students where I overheard this instructor tell my student, "My instructor, a 40,000 plus hour pilot...". I just shook my head and walked away.

Lets see, the 54,000 hour pilot has logged at least 100 hours per month for 45 years without fail; NOT LIKELY. In aviation it is a rare occurrence when a pilot logs more than 100 hours in a single month period, much less for an extended period, especially an airline pilot as this pilot stated he had retired from the majors. An exception might be a pilot that spent 45 years in Vietnam in its peak of helicopter operations (oh that's right, Vietnam didn't last that long), and my boots are not that tall, and the poop is running over the sides. Maybe this pilot has averaged 40 flight hours per week for 26 years also without a vacation; NOT LIKELY. You will never average 40 hours of flight time per week. The 40,000 hour man would have had to fly for 80 continuous years logging the flight time that the average pilot will log annually; NOT LIKELY. If someone claims 40,000 hours and they are younger than 70 or 80, I call bullshit.

What about the pilot with 19,000 hours, now maybe that is true, lets do the math. Let's assume that he got his first rating when he was 17, and now he is 50. This means that he could have been flying for 33 years. He must have averaged 575 hours per year, without a dry spell. That makes an average of 50 hours per month over that entire period. If this pilot stayed active, this one could be truthful.

The FAA under part 91 does not permit more than 8-hours of flight time in any 24-hour period for flight instruction, however you may fly longer than 8-hours for commercial operations not covered by other FARs such as part 135, 121, etc. Under part FAR §135.265 (commercial operations), the FAA regulates hours as follows:

  • No pilot may fly in excess of: 8 hours in any consecutive 24-hour period...
  • 34 hours in any consecutive 7 day period
  • 1200 hours in any calendar year

If you feel compelled to boast of such times, be careful of putting it in writing. The only thing that boasting accomplishes is send up BS flags.

Recently while reviewing a students logbook I found a flight where a previous instructor had signed off a dual flight in excess of 9 flight hours. This is in clear violation of FAR ยง61.195, and the instructor could have his certificate suspended or revoked for such a flight.

Keep in mind that some violations can have a long reaching term of possible repercussion, after all, this is aviation. END. Jump to Top