As early as 2002, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) already released an advisory on the Acceptance and the Use of Electronic Signatures, Electronic Record Keeping Systems, and Electronic Manuals. It is known as AC 120-78, which was revised to AC 120-78A to reflect technological advances and best practices regarding the acceptable use of e-signatures, e-records, and e-manuals.

The aviation industry, particularly the MRO, is highly regulated. As such, they often rely on paper documents to prove compliance. These range from the requirement of paper-bound manuals to routing printed task cards, which are necessary for the legal and financial management of business operations. 

While you can still rely on paper for today’s regulatory requirements, it will cause bottlenecks in your processes later. Utilizing a digital MRO solution can significantly improve the overall efficiency of your MROs. The first step in implementing a paperless maintenance operation is to use electronic technical logbooks and e-signatures.

The Road to Paperless Operations

Electronic Technical Logbooks (ETLs) and e-signatures can help eliminate paper and streamline crucial processes within ide maintenance operations. For instance, the maintenance crew can use ETLs to monitor the aircraft’s maintenance status. Pilots, on the other hand, can use e-signatures to sign-off log books electronically. Although these technologies are not new in the aviation industry, strict regulations and initial investment costs have prevented widespread adoption.

The regulatory bodies are open to paperless operations. In fact, they offer guidance on how to use the technologies behind paperless campaigns. But MRO operators should present a plan that can prove the security and reliability of the system, including the e-signature. This is a critical step to show the regulators that the system will not be compromised. 

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) offers some specific guidelines regarding the use of e-signatures: 

  1. Uniqueness. The e-signature must be unique to gain regulatory approval. It needs to be identifiable only to one person and protected against duplicates.
  2. Significance. The individual should affix his e-signature deliberately. It cannot be an automatic sign-off. 
  3. Scope. The individual must be aware of the details he is confirming his e-signature. 
  4. Digital security. The system should ensure that it is difficult or impossible to forge an individual’s e-signature.
  5. Non-repudiation. The system must prove the credibility of the sign-off. It is not permissible for the individual to contest that he signed his e-signature.
  6. Traceability. The system should be able to provide a log or history of every e-signature used to sign off a record or any other document. 

Without any knowledge, it is dangerous to develop a detailed plan for the use of e-signatures. Third-party providers can help you develop a paperless system that is compliant if you lack the necessary expertise.

By partnering with an industry expert like EmpowerMX, you can get the latest tech to upgrade your business workflow. EmpowerMX’s MRO Software eliminates inefficiencies in your operations by replacing the traditional way of documenting tasks. This includes over-reliance on paper in logs, task cards, and maintenance schedules. 

EmpowerMX’s modular solutions, such as Aircraft Records, allow you to transform your company. You can use e-signatures that ensure that your records are digitally managed from start to finish. With Aircraft Records, you can get:

Secure Records

Whether generated by the system or uploaded, your documents are always secure.

Reduce Data Entry

Starting with digital documents and signatures means no more data entry or scanning.

Access Documents Anywhere

Full mobile solutions make it easy to access your documents from any location and on any device.

Customize Documents

You can customize the appearance of digital documents created by the system to meet your requirements.

Track Compliance

Monitor and report compliance quickly and easily directly within the system.

Focus on the Work

Automate paperwork, so your teams can concentrate on more important work.

Contact our experts today for more information about how e-signatures can help you achieve a paperless maintenance operation

EmpowerMX delivers a software suite dedicated to help airlines and MROs plan, execute, and optimize their operations. We’ll be glad to assist you and discuss how you can benefit from our solutions.