Avionics Digital Edition

EFB Users Forum Supplement

At Avionics, we’re looking to highlight issues associated with EFBs, such as regulatory changes, communication interfaces, data input devices, terminals, displays and interactive devices, as well as hardware and software development, electrical interfaces and power supply.

Editor's Note

During a recent business aviation press conference, I asked Innovative Solutions & Support CEO Geoffrey Hedrick to clarify a reference to the capabilities of the integrated electronic flight bag (EFB) featured on the company’s cockpit upgrade suite for the Pilatus PC-12. I have been amazed by how far the use of tablet computers in new-generation cockpits has come since Apple’s introduction of the iPad in 2010.

I asked Hedrick whether an iPad truly could display and control approach and landing speeds, engine parameters, moving maps with overlay of flight plan, airspace, airways (both high and low), runway depictions, navigation aids and intersections, satellite weather, electronic checklists and the enhanced vision system, as well as the system’s unique autothrottle feature with thrust computer software.

“Yes,” he calmly answered and moved on to the next question. No one in the room blinked an eye.

That made me wonder, if this level of EFB cockpit integration become normalized in 2017, who’s to say pilots won’t be able to use tablets to control take off and landing functions by 2030?

When operators first began adopting tablets for flight operational purposes, the devices were seen mainly as a replacement for pounds of paper flight manuals and airport charts. Now there’s a new reason driving increased adoption, one we’ve covered in every issue of Avionics since the beginning of 2016: connectivity.

The availability of Wi-Fi and new integration hardware, primarily in the form of aircraft interface devices, is enabling airlines to choose mobile Windows and iOS tablets to run real-time applications designed to improve safety and flight operational efficiency. Previously, such capabilities were restricted to the domain of more expensive EFBs hardwired into an aircraft’s databus.

An essential element to the continued expansion of EFB use around the world is a common framework of standards. Its development depends on strong cooperation between the industry and regulators. That’s where events like the annual EFB Users Forum have shown tremendous value.

This becomes even more critical with the explosion in new apps that allow pilots to do things like use synthetic vision produced by an app or preview a difficult approach into an airport. In recent years, operators have even started developing their own flight operational and aircraft data analytics-intensive apps, customized to meet the unique needs of the types they operate, the routes their pilots fly and the flight conditions they frequently encounter.

At Avionics, we’re looking to highlight issues associated with EFBs, such as regulatory changes, communication interfaces, data input devices, terminals, displays and interactive devices, as well as hardware and software development, electrical interfaces and power supply.

Is there a new operational enhancement, in-service issue or regulatory harmonization challenge we should be highlighting? Email me at wbellamy@accessintel.com to let us know.

We hope you enjoy the special edition EFB coverage we feature in this issue of Avionics for the EFB Users Forum. We look forward to covering the ongoing evolution of EFB flight operations across all segments of the industry. AVS

Welcome to Vienna

As the EFB Users Forum prepares for its 14th conference, we thought it would be interesting to reflect on the phenomenal progress in EFB. It is hard to comprehend that many major airlines had no EFB program when we started the Forum in April 2010. Beginning with the second conference, we joined forces with the International Air Transport Assn. (IATA), widening our exposure, deepening our expertise and extending our reach with airlines around the world. Today, the EFB Users Forum is the world’s largest conference dedicated to EFB, regularly attracting more than 300 participants from around the globe.

The first presenters in Atlanta in April 2010 set a high bar for providing current, relevant and actionable information. We still strive to provide that singular experience at each event. We also encourage participation in projects led by industry experts who attend and report at this conference. One example is own-ship position indication on EFB, which has long been prohibited. Jeppesen took the leadership role in research, presentations and meetings with the FAA to advocate a change in policy. Due to these efforts, the next revision of AC 120-76 will incorporate this change; EASA is also considering this. The change is enthusiastically embraced by pilots and offers a tremendous increase in situational awareness.

EFB Users Forum in Hong Kong.

Another example is the use of Wi-Fi in the cockpit. FAA regulations prohibit Wi-Fi in cockpits using Honeywell Phase 3 displays — on most Boeing 737s and 777s. Southwest led a team of experts to develop an approved solution that permits the use of Wi-Fi several years before required replacement of the displays. This has provided updated information such as real-time graphical weather to thousands of pilots for the first time.

A few years ago, pilots still carried flight bags filled with paper charts, approach plates and manuals. Early laptops and stylus-operated portable computers formed the basis of initial efforts to digitize, eliminate paper, reduce weight and simplify update procedures. Then came custom-built installed EFB systems. But neither of these pioneering efforts provided airlines the ability to economically deploy EFBs.

The development of tablet computers changed everything. The iPad (and later, Surface) offered many advantages never seen before. Executive Jet Management was the first Part 135-certified operator that was FAA-authorized to deploy an iPad EFB in February 2011. In December of that year, American Airlines became the first Part 121 airline operator to gain FAA authorization for iPad EFBs. In Europe, Austrian, Brussels and Lufthansa airlines were the first to adopt the Surface Pro 3 as portable EFBs. Within four years, EFB programs based on Apple iPad and Microsoft Surface accounted for 82% of all FAA EFB authorizations granted to date.

The widespread adoption of EFB using commercial-off-the-shelf devices has been breathtaking, as is the volume of data that is digitized today. Jeppesen’s Rick Ellerbrock notes that more than 150,000 professional pilots worldwide use Jeppesen FliteDeck Pro, which has enabled about 30 million airline flights without paper charts. Jeppesen delivers more than 30 TB of data monthly to more than 300,000 tablet EFBs. That’s an equivalent of more than 83,000 hours (almost 10 years) of YouTube 480p streaming video.

There has also been tremendous expansion in mobile apps and variety of users. Kerry Frank reports that Comply365 supports 525,000 regular users and 300,000 mobile devices. Interestingly, more than 90% of its clients use mobile apps throughout the enterprise and across multiple departments. Kerry believes we are on the brink of the next wave of digital transformation. Users are moving beyond the simple PDF toward rich data and multiple file types, including pictures and video.

Connectivity is always a hot topic at the Forum and will be highlighted again in Vienna. Gogo’s TJ Horsager estimates half of the worldwide airline fleet will have in-flight broadband connectivity within the next few years. Gogo provides broadband connectivity to more than 3,000 commercial aircraft and supports more than 55,000 connected crew mobile devices. There are challenges associated with crewmembers and passengers sharing broadband, but they are being addressed. Initial uses include in-flight weather, turbulence avoidance, optimized flight tracks and profiles, and company communication. Many of the emerging FAA NextGen and Eurocontrol SESAR initiatives, including 4D trajectories and free flight, will require broadband connectivity to be cost-effective and achievable.

Participants in the Forum have led and witnessed significant change in our seven years. We anticipate even more exciting changes ahead. Help shape your own destiny and that of your industry by joining us, sharing your ideas and getting involved. On behalf of the EFB Leadership Team and our hosts at Austrian Airlines, we look forward to seeing you all in Vienna.

Peter Grau, Principal Engineer, ARINC IA

Philipp Haller, Co-Chairman, Austrian Airlines

John Synnott, Program Manager, IATA

Will Ware, Co-Chairman, Southwest Airlines

Partner Content

The airline industry is in a revolution of sorts as it is ever changing away from the use of paper. This is especially true in the cockpit where manuals, flight plans, maps and charts are all becoming electronic and paperless. The advent of the iPad and other tablets has made this change even more rapid because of the ever-lowering cost of the hardware, which is called an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB). In 2004, a class three EFB cost $300,000.00; by 2010, the price of a class two EFB had dropped to around $30,000.00. Today, a tablet EFB that can do much the same thing can be acquired for around $1,000.00. A situation we are seeing is that airlines who want the obvious benefits of going paperless are using suction cup mounts or home grown solutions that are not as reliable as a fixed mount.

Avionics Support Group, Inc. (ASG) is a world leader in supplying EFB mounting and power solutions to commercial airlines. We are the FAA PMA-approved OEM of the Constant Friction Mount (cfMount™). Our cfMount™ is fully U.S. patented and STCd, and is currently being used by some of the world’s largest airlines. It has become the standard in the industry. Additionally, we are a full engineering firm to help you if any deviations are needed during installation. Our EFB family of mounts will support several different size cradles and will allow users to select whichever tablet they choose for their selected EFB hardware. Installing the cfMount™ with our Integrated Power Supplies (IPS) and iPad Ethernet adapter will add another level of convenience and safety to your operation.

In addition, we can help you conform to the upcoming mandated ADS-B and CPDLC, as well as SATCOM (Iridium or Inmarsat) installations and other avionic modifications you may require. At Avionics Support Group, Inc., we are …

“Committed to keeping you flying!”