Logbook Battle Royale!

All right friends, it's time for what you've all been waiting for: The Logbook Battle Royale!

If you're a pilot, you need to keep your own logbook. End of debate. Questions?

Not convinced? Check out this page addressing some of the reasons why it's important to keep a logbook.

You're ready to admit that I'm right now? Good! But wait, you haven't logged a single flight for the last X,000 hours!? Better late than never...get started today! (Don't worry, if you have even partial electronic records, you can cut a lot of time off the process of inputting the data into your electronic logbook program. More on that later.)

Some people prefer to have enlisted troops or airline computer systems manage their flight logs. You're welcome to it, but you're leaving your future in the hands of someone or something else. Do you want to risk your future on that person's diligence or some other system's integrity? In my experience, most USAF pilots find incorrect information or flights missing completely in their flight records, when they bother to check. I believe that the USAF's ARMS troops work hard, but nobody will ever care about your flight records as much as you do.

As a computer geek, I made my own logbook years ago. It worked well for me, but there are so many great commercial products on the market that I decided it's time to pick one. I figured I'd be scientific about it and share my findings with the rest of you. I hope it helps!

BLUF: There are several outstanding electronic logbook apps on the market. (Good news!) Which one is best? Like most pilot answers this one is a solid "It depends."

Overall, I feel like ZuluLog is probably the best all-around logbook program based on those I reviewed. However, it might not be right for you. You should consider a few different options if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • Windows Only

    If you don't have or want to have a Mac and you want an app that runs on your desktop computer whether you're online or not, I'd look closest at Logbook Pro, or mccPilotLog. If you don't mind a browser-based system for your "desktop" app, then you can add ZuluLog to that list. If you are an iPhone person, you should also consider ForeFlight.

  • Mac Only

    If you're a true Apple fanboy or fangirl, then you should look at LogTen Pro X. If you want an offline-capable desktop app, then also look at mccPilotLog. If a browser-based system is okay, then add ZuluLog to your list.

  • GA Pilot

    If you fly a lot of General Aviation (GA) you need a subscription to an app like ForeFlight or Garmin Pilot for enroute charts, approach plates, navigation, etc. If you're going to be paying for these services anyway, you can get pretty decent logbook functionality within the app that you already use. I'd still suggest considering LogTen Pro X, Logbook Pro, mccPilotLog, and ZuluLog. However, it might be worth trying out the logbook app you already have access to. (Worst case, you can export your data and upload it into one of these other systems if it FF or GP isn't meeting your needs.)

    ForeFlight is actually a pretty solid option for anyone who owns an iPad. Garmin Pilot is an option for Android purists, though its lack of customization is a deal breaker for me.

  • No Subscriptions

    If having to pay a subscription is a deal breaker for you, then mccPilotLog is probably the way to go. However, if you're a professional pilot and you truly think you can't afford to spend $100/yr on a better logbook app, you may need to adjust your perspective on the cost of these subscriptions.

I built a table (below) and wrote this article to help you decide which is best for you. I explain my criteria and wrote up a summary for each app on a separate page .

Unfortunately, I didn't find the "perfect" app. Each one has some weaknesses. Some of those weaknesses could be deal breakers depending on what kind of phone/tablet/computer you use and how you plan to use your logbook. The table should make deal breakers pretty obvious, but I mention them in the individual app reviews as well.

In hopes of being somewhat scientific, I've included a control group in this experiment. I built a very basic logbook using Microsoft Excel. You can download it for free here. It's not glamorous, but it's a good place to start. It doesn't take too much work to convert it into a format that can be uploaded into any of the other apps here.

I've included some pro tips after the table, and I list some disclaimers at the end.

I don't mind this being a living document. If I missed a feature or an app you like, let me know. If any of these companies wants to send clarification, I'm happy to consider updating my reviews.

Now without further ado, here's the table. Let the Logbook Battle Royale begin!

LogTen Pro X Logbook Pro MyFlightbook Safelog mccPilotLog ZuluLog ForeFlight Garmin Pilot Generic Excel
Company Website Coradine NC Software MyFlightbook Safelog mccPilotLog ZuluLog ForeFlight Garmin Pilot Download
Logbook Web Portal - - MyFlightbook SafeLogWeb - Console plan.foreflight fly.garmin -
Import (from .csv) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Import Instructions Here Here Here Here Here Here Here Here -
Export Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Corporate (Airline) Direct Import Yes* Yes* No Yes* Yes* Yes* No No No
Free Trial? Yes* Yes* Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Purchase Price $100* $99.95 $0 $0 EUR 69* $0 $0 $0 $0
1 Year Subscription $75 $39.99 $0 $45.99 $0 $89.86 $99.99 $74.99 $0
Other Subscription Options Numerous Numerous - Numerous - Numerous $199.99 (Pro) $149.99 (Pro) -
LogTen Pro X Logbook Pro MyFlightbook Safelog mccPilotLog ZuluLog ForeFlight Garmin Pilot Generic Excel
Windows No Yes Yes (Browser) Yes Yes Yes (Browser) Yes (Browser) Yes (Browser) Yes
Mac Yes No Yes (Browser) Yes Yes Yes (Browser) Yes (Browser) Yes (Browser) Yes
Web Browser No No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes*
iOS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes*
Android No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes*
Custom Columns Excellent Good No No Meh Yes Good No Yes
Signed Endorsements Yes No Image Only Image Only Yes Yes* Outstanding Yes No
LogTen Pro X Logbook Pro MyFlightbook Safelog mccPilotLog ZuluLog ForeFlight Garmin Pilot Generic Excel
Sync Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes* Yes Yes Yes No
Cloud Backup Yes (iCloud) Yes* Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Number of Devices Allowed per Account 15* Varies Unlimited Unlimited 1/Unlimited* Unlimited 2/Unlimited* 2/Unlimited* Unlimited
General User Interface Good Meh Meh Meh Good Good Good Good Meh
Ease of Data Entry Good Good Bad Meh Good Good Good Good Good
Error Checking No No No No Limited* Good No No No
Customizability (views, sort/query data) Excellent Excellent Good Meh Good Good Good Meh Good
Paper Copy Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes
8710 Report Yes Yes No Yes Yes* Yes Yes Yes No
AirlineApps.com / PilotCredentials.com Reports Yes Yes No Yes Yes* Yes No No No
Currency tracking, alerts, notifications Yes Yes Yes Yes Limited* Yes Yes Yes No
LogTen Pro X Logbook Pro MyFlightbook Safelog mccPilotLog ZuluLog ForeFlight Garmin Pilot Generic Excel
Other Instructions Getting Started Manual - FAQ User Guides ZuluLog Wiki Logbook Guide Manual (PDF) -
Customer Support Response Quality Excellent Outstanding - Excellent Excellent Outstanding Meh/Good - -
Disclosures (Free stuff I got for review purposes only.) Free Mac desktop app and 3-month trial (iOS App) Free 1-month trial (Enterprise Edition) None None Free unlimited license Free trial (basic) Paid $8.81 for 1 month advanced features. Free 1-month trial I already pay for a subscription -
Detailed Review My Review My Review My Review My Review My Review My Review My Review My Review My Review

(An "*" in the table means the answer given is conditional. See the individual review of each app for details.)

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Pro Tips:

Putting Cost in Perspective

Some of these apps aren't necessarily cheap. You could be paying upwards of $100/yr for the rest of your life. Let's be honest though, if you're flying for a living you can probably afford that. I can cover a full year of subscription costs for almost all of these apps by working for one block hour on first year pay at Delta. Plus, your logbook expenses are tax deductible which means Uncle Sam gives you a 30-40% discount off the cover price. Even the most expensive apps on this list won't break the bank.

Personally, I hate the subscription model for an application like this. If you feel the same way, then mccPilotLog may be the app for you. You pay a one-time fee of 69 Euros and get access forever. (If they decide to start charging for a subscription just export your data and go somewhere else!) However, there are some great apps out there and you won't have to make major sacrifices to pay a company for upkeep and continued development of a quality product.

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Desktop Version

Some techies think that phones and tablets are going to replace desktop/notebook computers altogether. I think they're wrong and electronic logbooks are a good example of why. Some of the mobile apps for these logbooks are really cool. They have some neat features to make adding logbook entries as easy as possible. However, your logbook wouldn't be usable if all you had was the mobile app. You need a desktop or web-based application that lets you access your logbook. At the very least you need this for importing and exporting data, backing up data, printing out your entire logbook, and editing your data when the import process falls short. (Sorry, but none of the import processes work perfectly.) Importing data directly from your airline is sometimes easier to do on the desktop version as well.

Thankfully, all of the apps reviewed here offer either a desktop or web version to go with the mobile app. Think of these as different ways to access the same system...your logbook. Some of the apps will charge you a one-time fee for the desktop version. Just suck it up and pay the money...it's worth it. If you eventually decide to move to a different company, you've only lost about an hour's worth of pay.

Plan to initially spend several hours on the desktop/web version of your app to get all of your data imported and polished. After that, you should be able to take care of most of what you do using the mobile app. Don't assume that you can do everything with your phone though.

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Import for Sanity!

What do you mean you have 6,000 flight hours and haven't logged a single tenth of it yourself? Yes you're a lazy fool, but don't worry. All is not lost!

All of these apps allow you to import data. If you have any of your previous flying in an electronic format, you can save a lot of time by uploading it directly into your new logbook's system. It might take a little work, but it will save you hours of hand-jamming. You need to get your data into a spreadsheet program like Excel, Numbers or Google Sheets. Then, save your spreadsheet as a ".csv" file. There may still be some legwork required to format everything correctly, but you'll be able to upload a properly formatted .csv file directly to any of these apps. (A couple of the companies will even take care of the formatting for you...for free! All you have to do is send them a regular Excel spreadsheet.)

If you're in the USAF, your ARMS troops can download any (relatively) recent flying directly from the ARMS database to an Excel spreadsheet for you. If an ARMS troop tries to tell you that he or she can't just smile, walk away, and ask someone else from the office tomorrow. It can be done. Also, if you trained or taught at a USAF UPT base, TIMS can also export an Excel spreadsheet with all of your flying. I completed UPT more than 10 years ago and my data is still in TIMS. I used it to export all of my USAF student flying and all the flying I did there as an IP later in my career. Find someone at your old base who still has access to TIMS, buy him or her some beer, and he or she should be able to export that data and send it to you.

If you work for a Part 135 or Part 121 (airline) operation, they have electronic logs of all your flying. (The Feds require this.) Your system should give you the option to download that data. (Delta let me download .csv files of mine. Search for "myPAS" on DeltaNet.) You'll still need to jump through some hoops to get everything formatted properly, but it makes life a lot easier. Delta will let me get my data a month at a time. Good news!

Thankfully, all of the apps I discussed here allow you to import data like this. I would not pay a dime for a system that didn't offer this functionality.

A couple of these apps take this one step further for airline pilots. The app itself can log directly into your system and import your flying schedule automatically. You'll still have to enter some details after you fly, but this feature is a great bonus.

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Export = Options

One reason I've hesitated to choose an app before now was that I was worried I'd do all the data entry, decide I don't like the app, and have all that data stuck in a system I don't want to use.

I'm very pleased to inform you that this won't happen here. You don't have to marry the app you choose today.

All of these apps let you export your data to a .csv file. You can view/edit all of this exported data in Excel, Numbers, Sheets, etc., just like you did when you imported data from your military or airline flight records.

They probably don't want me to mention it, but this means you could use a subscription-based app to build your logbook, then export your data to Excel and end your subscription. You'd be free to keep logging your time in Excel, or import it to a different logbook program.

The ability to export and keep your data is a deal breaker for me. I would never pay for an app that didn't give me full access to my data.

Let's say you do fall in love with the app you pick and don't plan on ever changing. Awesome! However, you should export a backup of your data on a regular basis...in case your app's company gets hacked or their servers crash.

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Aircraft Types

(Sorry, but we have to geek out for a second.) At their hearts, these apps are nothing more than pretty databases. Part of what makes a database powerful is the ability to create links between different records (logbook entries) and types of data. Most of these apps require you to create a table of Aircraft Types, in addition to entering each line of your logbook. Most of the apps don't have you enter SEL vs MEL vs Glider vs Helicopter time yourself. The app uses your Aircraft Types table to figure out what type of time to give you. This makes your job easier in a lot of ways, but not until your Aircraft Types table is built. Sorry, but building that Aircraft Types table is a huge pain.

Some of the apps make building this table easier than others. Most of them will automatically build a basic version of this table for you when you upload your regular logbook. Then, you'll have to go back into your system and fill in the details for each aircraft. Unfortunately, your logbook app won't work correctly until you've done this. No matter what app you pick, plan to spend some time working on this part of the project when you do your initial import. It's not just worth it, it's necessary.

Some of the interfaces for editing your Aircraft Table within the app are pretty cumbersome. Another strategy could be 1) upload your logbook and allow the app to build a basic Aircraft Types table for you, 2) export your entire logbook from the app into a .csv file, 3) use Excel to fill in all the important data on the Aircraft Types table, 4) upload that new version of the Aircraft Types table into your app. If you have trouble getting your edited table to upload the company should be able to do it for you. Just email your customer support people.

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  • I didn't get paid to do this, so that makes me impartial, right?
  • No really, I didn't go into this with any preconceived notions. I tried to treat all of these apps equally.
  • I noted in the main table if I received any free access to these apps from the companies. If I choose one to use long-term, I'll go back and offer to pay full price for it.
  • I'm an Android guy. I will probably always own an iPad because ForeFlight and GoodReader are outstanding and they only work on Apple devices. For any other task, I'd rather use Android. However, I consider myself a competent iOS user. (I even have a few apps for sale both in the iTunes App Store and on Google Play.) I did my testing on a Google Nexus 5X, an Apple iPad 2, and a MacBook Pro running both the latest version of OS X and Windows 10.
  • Any good study needs a control group, right? For this one, I made you a logbook using Excel. You're welcome to download it here and use it for free forever. It's very basic, and sorry, but it has no tech support or implied warranty. It has several hidden columns that you may find useful. I put the totals at the top because I didn't know how many entries you will put in there. I include this Excel spreadsheet in my comparison for reference.

(End of disclaimers)

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