NBAA2012 Online News Bureau

Bookmark and Share

Experts Offer Guidance for iPad Implementation in Your Flight Operation

October 31, 2012

The Apple iPad has undoubtedly found a home in many business aviation operations. The popular device makes it simple to make the move to a paperless cockpit, with apps for route planning, checking weather, viewing navigational charts and just about everything else. But using iPads in your flight operation involves more than just downloading some apps. A session on Oct. 30 at NBAA2012 titled “Training Solutions for Flight Deck iPad Implementation” stressed the importance of having a plan for training on the device.

Regulatory Requirements

For Parts 135 and 91K, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires operators (in AC 120-76B) to develop training programs in order to use iPads as electronic flight bags (EFBs), and Part 91 operators are encouraged to do so, too.

“For initial training, you first need to do a hardware orientation: how to stop the screen from rotating, how to dim it, and how to use the iPad’s various settings,” said Dan Boedigheimer, a human factors instructor for Convergent Performance. “You also need to talk about human factors and train for the apps you’re using.”

FAA regulations require Part 135 and 91K operators to document not only every app they’re using on the iPad as an EFB, but also which version of every app they’re using. “If you see a little ‘1’ over an app icon, that means the app has updates ready to download,” said Boedigheimer. “The problem is if a flightcrew member downloads the latest version of that app, you just dropped out of compliance with your OpSpec.”

In addition to annual recurrent training on the iPad as an EFB, Boedigheimer recommends evaluating each app upgrade after it’s released. “How much of an improvement is the upgrade? Has the pilot interface changed significantly?” he said. “Then, add that upgrade to your OpSpec, train on the changes and send a notification that it’s okay to update that app.”

Documentation is just as important as training, Boedigheimer said. Panelists recommended having an EFB Statement of Compliance and a Battery Certification Document, produced by Apple. “We carry these documents on our aircraft to show we’ve complied with some of the regulatory issues,” said Walt Koehler, captain at General Dynamics.

The iPad as a Training Tool

In addition to training for the iPad, the panelists discussed the potential for delivering flight department training on the iPad.

For example, through FlightSafety International’s app, David Davenport described how flight departments are able to download training manuals for pilots, maintenance technicians and flight attendants. They can even download e-learning courses on topics such as cold weather flying.

The best mobile training applications, Michelle Assmer of CAE Simuflite explained, mimic a classroom experience, with the ability to take notes and highlight passages. “This is the lifeline of your pilot,” said Assmer, “so we’ve focused on leveraging the iPad to distribute training documents and courseware to pilots.”