Considerations for Choosing the Right Drone Logbook

February 20, 2019

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While the Federal Aviation Administration does not require Unmanned Aircraft Systems pilots to maintain a logbook, it is generally considered a best practice and highly encouraged by community-based organizations (e.g., Academy of Model Aeronautics) as a way to demonstrate that the aircraft is airworthy. Specifically, it is important to maintain a logbook for reasons which may include safety, marketing, insurance and maintenance.

In the event of an aircraft malfunction, your logbook can provide you with information on the number of times a battery or propeller has been utilized, which may help you troubleshoot or anticipate potential problems. As another example, when it comes time to part with your aircraft, having an organized logbook that tracks all the issues that have occurred, or maintenance that has been done, can help give potential buyers confidence in the seller and the aircraft.

In his online "Ultimate Drone Logbook Guide," Jonathan Rupprecht, Esq. recommends that the following information be logged for each drone flight:

  • Date
  • Total flight time
  • Location of operation
  • Type of aircraft
  • Type of pilot experience
  • Conditions of flight (e.g. day/night, wind, etc.)

There are a few considerations when choosing your UAS logbook. One of the biggest factors may be cost. There are several free logbooks offered online but many companies limit the functions provided. Some of these are listed below.

Another factor to consider is format: paperback versus a digital cloud-based app. Paperback logbooks can be bulky to carry but offer a reliable and convenient way to record and store your flight data. Many of the digital cloud-based apps conveniently track your flight information automatically, but can be problematic if network coverage is lost.

A Note on Cloud-based Logbooks

The DJI application records flight times automatically. However, to synchronize those flight times onto a third-party application such as Litchi and Skyward, you will need to locate the logbook section on the DJI app and download the flights. Once the flight data is downloaded and saved into a folder, you can upload the folder into one of the many cloud-based logbooks. Skyward, DroneLogbook, and Airdata are some examples of cloud-based logbooks that allow you to link your DJI account, therefore any flight times will be automatically synced between the DJI App and your logbook.

We have researched several options for paperback and cloud-based logbooks, at varying costs, and provided a brief comparison of them based on our experience, below.

Pros and Cons of Available Flight Logbooks

1.      UAS Pilot Log (Paperback) by Droneprep

Pro: The logbook has enough space to log information other than flight instructions. The cover is available in multiple colors: gold, brown, red, grey and blue.

Con: If conducting multiple flights on the same day, there’s not enough space on one page.

Price: $9.99

2.      Drone Operator’s Logbook (Paperback) by Jonathan Rupprecht, Esq.

Pro: There is enough space for additional information and a section for operating at night or day.

Con: The size of the logbook is 8.5 x 11" so it won’t fit in a pouch. There is no section for battery entry or an area to mark the date.

Price: $12.99

3.      Drone Flight Log Book (Digital) by The Drone Trainer

Pro: You can download this flight logbook in Microsoft Excel or Apple Numbers.

Con: There is no space to jot down notes.

Price: Free

4.      Standard UAS Operator Log (Hardcover) by Aviation Supplies & Academics, Inc.

Pro: You can record over 300 flights with plenty of space to add additional information: battery, mission, etc.

Con: It is primarily geared towards fixed wing aircrafts.

Price: $13.95

5.      Ultimate UAS/Drone Pilot Logbook (Paperback) by Ty Justice

Pro: This one includes the option of listing multiple drones and is the perfect size to fit into a small pouch.

Con: The book has been reported to have binding issues.

Price: $11.99

6.      Airdata UAV (Digital App)

Pro: This is supported by multiple flight apps (e.g., DJI GO, Litchi, DroneDeploy, Pix4D). Upload your flight automatically through a supported app or manually. You can share your flight logbook.

Con: The free account only logs 100 flights.

Price: Free & Pricing Plans

7.      "Modern" Drone Logbook (Digital App) by: Kittyhawk

Pro: This logbook is an application that can be downloaded in Google Play and the App Store. You have the option of adding multiple pilots and receiving updated information.

Con: You need to have the latest update for Apple devices and sign up to use this application.

Price: Free & In-App Subscription

8.      DroneLogbook (Digital App)

Pro: This logbook is available for download on the App Store and Google Play.

Con: The free account has limited features.

Price: Free & In-App Subscription

9.      Skyward (Digital App)

Pro: Flights will be automatically imported.

Con: Cost

Price: Free & In-App Subscription

Work reported in this article are supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant ATE #1700552. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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