Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs)

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An Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) is a device that allows flight crews to perform a variety of functions that were traditionally accomplished by using paper references. In its simplest form, an EFB can perform basic flight planning calculations and display a variety of digital documentation, including navigational charts, operations manuals, and aircraft checklists. The most advanced EFBs are fully certified as part of the aircraft avionics system and are integrated with aircraft systems such as the FMS. These advanced systems are also able to display an aircraft's position on navigational charts, depict real-time weather, and perform many complex flight-planning tasks.

Using an Apple iPad or other Tablet Device in Part 91 Operations

With many pilots using iPads to display approach plates, airport diagrams and other digital documentation, the FAA released InFO 11011 to clarify when authorization is needed to use the device as a Class 1 EFB. For Part 91 operators, authorization is not required to utilize an iPad in this capacity. If an operator plans to install a mounting device or power source, requirements found in Advisory Circular 120-76C are still applicable.

The information in AC 120-76C is directed toward certificated air carriers and fractional providers, but Part 91 operators should as a best practice refer to the guidance on developing EFB training programs and making the transition to a paperless cockpit. The pilot in command is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the proper aeronautical charts are available for the flight, so it is important to document and validate the reliability of the iPad during the transition. During this initial transition period the crew should carry paper backup materials.

Part 91F operators are required to comply with the AC but do not need written approval. They should also validate compliance with FAR 91.503 (flying equipment and operating information for large/turbine powered aircraft) and FAR 91.21 (portable electronic devices) when using an iPad. Part 91F operators must also have a secondary system in place to augment their primary iPad. The secondary system can simply be a backup iPad or alternate EFB.

iPad Approval Process for FAA Certificated Operators

Before using an iPad as a Class 1 EFB, when operating under Part 91K, 125, or 135, authorization must be received from the principal inspector. The procedures for obtaining this approval are contained in FAA Order 8900.1 and AC 120-76C. OpSpec/MSpec paragraph A061 authorizes the use of the iPad or any similar EFB device. At the end of a successful evaluation period, the operator will receive authorization to use the iPad in lieu of certain paper references.

During the approval process, the operator will need to develop training programs and operational procedures to utilize the EFB in compliance with FAA guidance.

The operator must show that the device has been through rapid decompression testing and noninterference testing in accordance with the AC. Apple has conducted the noninterference test and Jeppesen has conducted the rapid decompression test. Both organization s have made their compliance statement available to the public.

iPad Resources

EFB Hardware and Software Classifications from AC 120-76C

The following classifications, created by the FAA, help operators determine what type of approval is necessary to use an EFB.

Hardware Class Description
Class 1 Hardware Portable hardware with no mounting device (docking station, swing-arm, cradle, or kneeboard) and has read-only connectivity to other aircraft systems.
Class 2 Hardware Attached to the aircraft by a mounting device (docking station, swing-arm, cradle, or kneeboard) and may connect to aircraft power and data ports.
Class 3 Hardware Permanently installed aircraft equipment that may share data with the FMS or EICAS.
Software Class Description
Type A Software The least complex software providing electronic documentation such as flight manuals but no navigational charts.
Type B Software Provides all Type A information and also can display approach charts, calculate weight and balance, and deliver weather information.
Type C Software Provides all Type A and B information and can display "own-ship" position on approach and airport charts.

EFB News

Managing Mobile Technology Requires Foresight, Planning
Dec. 23, 2015
There's no doubt that mobile technology saves money and time, but a successful transition to a paperless flight operation hinges on smart planning and researching what will meet your needs, according to experts who took part in a recent NBAA webinar, sponsored by Jeppesen. Terry Lascher, director of operations at L.J. Aviation in Latrobe, PA, who managed his company's move to mobile devices, suggested outlining what tasks the devices need to accomplish – such as providing charts, approach plates and storing operational or company information – and going from there. Read more about making the move to mobile technology.
Free NBAA Webinar on Managing Flight Department Technology Set for Dec. 16
Dec. 9, 2015
Is your flight department looking to go paperless? Learn how all of the areas of your operation can integrate today’s technology to better manage your department though a free webinar titled, "Managing Technology: Office to Flight Deck," set for Dec. 16 at 1 p.m. Presented by NBAA and Jeppesen, the webinar will address the life cycle of transitioning a flight department to more mobile digital operations. “Considerations such as the number of users, the devices they’ll use, applications and what kind of content to push to users to get the right information at the right time," will be among the issues addressed, said Jeppesen Strategic Partnerships Business Manager TJ Wirth, who is conducting the webinar along with Terry Lascher, L.J. Aviation's director of operations. Register for the Dec. 16 webinar.
App Developer Who Urges 'Sterile iPad' Approach to Present at Chicago Forum
August 19, 2013
Robert Creek was one of the first half-dozen business pilots approved to use Apple's iPad in the cockpit, and he was so convinced of the benefits that technology presents that he became an aviation app developer himself. His company, CockpitApps.com, is now marketing two pilot apps for Apple iOS devices. Creek, who will present a session titled "A Pilot's Guide to Using iPads in the Cockpit" at NBAA's Business Aviation Regional Forum at Chicago/Waukegan Airport in Illinois on Sept. 12, advocates the notion of a "sterile iPad" in the same sense that safety experts promote a "sterile cockpit," where there is nothing to distract the flightcrew from the tasks at hand. Listen to this week's NBAA Flight Plan podcast for more about the use of iPads in the cockpit.
Apple Issues New Compliance Data for iPad EFB
August 27, 2012
In an Aug. 24 posting to its iPad support knowledge base, Apple listed its international battery safety certifications, thereby meeting the requirements of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Advisory Circular (AC) 120-76B. “Basically, the compliance statement means the iPad 100 percent meets FAA requirements spelled out in the new AC,” said Rick Ellerbrock, director of aviation strategy at Jeppesen. “That deals with UN transport safety requirements and also Underwriters Laboratories requirements. That’s a statement that any operator can reference with their principal operations inspector (POI) and put into their authorization package.” Read more about the new iPad compliance data.
FAA Updates EFB-Approval Procedures
August 27, 2012
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently issued an update to the EFB Advisory Circular (AC 120-76B), which includes guidance on electronic flight bag (EFB) systems aimed specifically at certificated operators and operators of large and turbine-powered multi-engine aircraft. The updated AC, which was years in development, was finalized after NBAA provided input regarding the draft circular. For example, the Association was concerned about language in the draft that seemed to indicate that FAR Part 91F operators would be required to obtain specific approval from the FAA. In the final version, that is not the case. However, the AC does mandate that certain requirements be met and records kept by Part 91F operators. Read more about the update to AC 120-76.
NBAA Highlights Changes in FAA’s Revised Guidance on EFB Use
July 24, 2012
NBAA's Operations Service Group has reviewed the changes that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made to the agency’s Advisory Circular on the use of electronic flight bags (EFBs) in flight operations, and has clarified the new provisions, which had confused many aircraft operators. “Do I need to seek FAA approval to use an iPad in the cockpit?” is the most common question NBAA receives from pilots and flight department managers evaluating the use of tablet devices. With the rapid advance of EFB technology, the FAA has been working to create guidance that keeps pace with how pilots are using the devices. Read more about the FAA’s guidance on EFB use.
Webinar Discusses International Flight with Digital Charts
July 23, 2012
A record number of participants – more than 300 Members – took part in a free NBAA webinar July 18, which discussed international flights using digital charts. The third in a series, Jeppesen sponsored and presented the hour-long session that focused on the Mobile FlightDeck, the company's iPad electronic flight bag (EFB) app, said moderator Jo Damato, NBAA director of educational development & strategy. Read more about the webinar.
FAA Publishes Revised EFB Advisory Circular
June 11, 2012
The FAA has released an updated version of Advisory Circular (AC) 120-76B on EFB use. The AC explains that Part 91 operators, even those operating under Part 91F (large and turbine-powered multi-engine aircraft) do not require specific authorization for EFB use. While formal authorization is not required, compliance with numerous items such as non-interference testing and backup procedures must be documented by the operator prior to EFB use. Learn More.
Senate Committee Questions FAA's Plan for E-Chart Fees
May 11, 2012
The Senate is stepping in to ensure stakeholders are able to provide input to a plan by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to impose user fees for electronic chart data. The new charges, originally expected to take effect April 5, 2012, are now likely on hold until the FAA seeks formal public comments and justifies its pricing to lawmakers.