Avionics Digital Edition

Airlines Are Starting to Dedicate Small IT Teams to EFBs

A look at latest developments from the EFB Users Forum, the FAA's decision on ADS-C, and more.

At the end of June, I attended SAE International’s EFB Users Forum for the first time, and I must say that I gained a deeper understanding of what it actually takes to not only deploy a new electronic flight bag at an airline, but the regulatory, financial and functional testing and analysis that goes into even the introduction and authorization of a new EFB application.

The process required to introduced new EFB apps and tablets into flight operations is so intense that a new trend is emerging: airlines are dedicating teams of engineers and IT technicians solely to the development of new applications, monitoring of existing ones and fixing problems as they arise.

As an example, a presentation given by Air France EFB Program Manager Marc Mautref noted that the Paris-based carrier has a team that monitors the status of nearly 22,000 pilot tablets at all times. Air France also has a team responsible for testing and evaluating every new EFB application and update that they introduce over a period of seven days before the application makes it to the flight deck.

Similarly, at Lufthansa, the company has an EFB team split into two: one that focuses on the networks, devices and their overall EFB ecosystem, while the other team focuses on developing and introducing new applications. But Lufthansa also has to worry about one of the most crucial aspects of using and relying on EFBs in flight operations — the rare occurrence of a pilot sitting in a cockpit, preparing to takeoff, and realizing they have a major issue with their EFB that could cause a flight delay and needs to be resolved.

In this month’s edition of Avionics, we cover highlights from presentations at the EFB Users Forum showing what airlines are doing to advance the use of EFBs into the future. I also summarize the most important parts of the Government Accountability Office’s new report on the FAA’s selection of ADS-C over space-based ADS-B and what that means for flight operations in oceanic airspace moving forward.

James Careless also gives a status update on the challenges of deploying multicore processors in avionics systems, while Nick Zazulia covers Delta Air Line’s fleet modernization initiatives. GMU professor Lance Sherry also gives a brief preview of a study on “moded” input devices in flight controls that he worked on in collaboration with colleagues.