Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs)

Normal Procedures

Eddie sez:

The Apple iPad has taken over in the world of EFBs and some of the rules seem a bit, well, out of date. But here they are.

Everything here is from the references shown below, with a few comments in an alternate color.

Last revision:

20171220

EFBs Defined

An EFB used to mean a small tablet computer that was a bit bulky and weighed a few pounds, but of late more and more companies are adopting the use of iPads which are smaller and weigh less.

[AC 120-76D, ¶6.] WHAT IS AN EFB? An EFB is any device, or combination of devices, actively displaying EFB applications. EFBs are characterized by the following:

  • An EFB hosts applications, which are generally replacing conventional paper products and tools, traditionally carried in the pilot’s flight bag. EFB applications include natural extensions of traditional flight bag contents, such as replacing paper copies of weather with access to near-real-time weather information.
  • In order to qualify as an EFB application, the failure effect must be considered a minor hazard or have no safety effect.
  • Acceptable EFB applications are listed in Appendices A and B. These EFB applications may be overlaid or integrated. (See: Acceptable Applications", below.)
  • EFBs cannot replace any installed equipment required by operational or airworthiness regulations.
  • EFB applications have no certification requirements for installation under aircraft type design (refer to AC 20-173).
  • AC 20-173 describes certification considerations for individual EFB components and for installing EFB aircraft connectivity provisions by addressing the principal elements, or “components." Its provisions are worth examining, see Installation Considerations, below.

Acceptable Applications

Type A EFB Applications

[AC 120-76D, ¶7.1] Type A Applications.

  • Have a failure condition classification considered to be no safety effect;
  • Do not substitute for or replace any paper, system, or equipment required by airworthiness or operational regulations; and
  • Do not require specific authorization for use (i.e., although the Type A EFB application is part of the operator’s EFB program, Type A EFB applications are not identified or controlled in the OpSpecs or Management Specifications (MSpecs)).

Looking at the list, Type A Applications seem to be documents, some of which are required by operational requirements. This seems to be a contradiction.

[AC 120-76D, Appendix A, ¶A.1] Type A EFB Applications.

  1. Airport diversion policy guidance, including a list of special designated airports and/or approved airports with Emergency Medical Service (EMS) support facilities.
  2. Flight Management System (FMS)/Flight Management Guidance System (FMGS) problem report forms.
  3. Aircraft parts manuals.
  4. Airlines for America (A4A) 100-format maintenance discrepancy write-up codes.
  5. Required Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range (VOR) check records.
  6. Minimum equipment lists (MEL).
  7. Configuration Deviation Lists (CDL).
  8. Nonessential Equipment and Furnishings (NEF) lists.
  9. Federal, state, and airport-specific rules and regulations.
  10. Chart Supplements (formerly the Airport/Facility Directory (A/FD)) data (e.g., fuel availability, land-and-hold-short operations (LAHSO) distances for specific runway combinations).
  11. Noise abatement procedures for arriving and departing aircraft.
  12. International Operations Manuals, including regional supplementary information and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) differences.
  13. Aeronautical Information Publications (AIP).
  14. Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).
  15. Pilot flight and duty-time logs.
  16. Flightcrew member-required rest logs.
  17. Flightcrew member qualification logs (such as aircraft qualifications, Class II flightcrew member qualifications, Category III (CAT III) qualifications, high minimums logs, night currency logs, pilot in command (PIC) qualifications for special areas, routes, and airports for Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 121 certificate holders and special airports qualifications).
  18. Flightcrew member qualifications recordkeeping, including aircraft qualifications, landing currency, flight time and duty-time, PIC currency requirements, etc.
  19. Captain’s report (i.e., captain’s incident reporting form).
  20. Flightcrew member survey forms (various).
  21. EMS reference library (for use during medical emergencies).
  22. Trip scheduling and bid lists.
  23. Aircraft captain’s logs.
  24. Antiterrorism profile data.
  25. Hazardous materials (hazmat)/oxidizer lookup tables.
  26. Customs declaration and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) agriculture inspection/clearance form.
  27. Special reporting forms, such as near midair collision (NMAC) reports, National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), bird and wildlife encounters, owner-initiated Service Difficulty Reports (SDR), etc.
  28. Incidents of interference to aircraft electronic equipment from devices carried on board aircraft.
  29. Current fuel prices at various airports.
  30. Computer-based training modules, check pilot, and flight instructor records.
  31. Airline Policy and Procedures Manuals (PPM).
  32. Title 14 CFR.
  33. Lookup and completion of various reporting forms (e.g., company-specific forms, NASA’s ASRS reports, NMAC reports, and wildlife strike and hazard reports).
  34. Passenger information requests—some are directed to the gate or to the agent meeting the flight (e.g., special meal requests, wheelchair requirements, unaccompanied minors, gate information for connecting flights, and flights being held for connecting passengers).
  35. Service Bulletins (SB)/published Airworthiness Directives (AD), etc.

Type B Applications

[AC 120-76D, ¶7.2] Type B Applications.

  • Have a failure condition classification considered minor;
  • May substitute or replace paper products of information required for dispatch or to be carried in the aircraft;
  • May not substitute for or replace any installed equipment required by airworthiness or operating regulations; and
  • Require specific authorization for operational authorization for use (i.e., each Type B EFB application must be authorized by the FAA in the OpSpecs or MSpecs).

[AC 120-76D, ¶1.2 Requirements.] This AC describes an acceptable means, but not the only means, foroperators conducting flight operations seeking authorization for the operational use of EFB applications under part 91K, 121, 125, or 135.

If you are operating under one of these parts, you need approval to use an EFB with the following applications.

[AC 120-76D, Appendix B, ¶B.1] Type B EFB Applications.

  1. Airplane Flight Manuals (AFM) (or Rotorcraft Flight Manuals (RFM)) and Airplane Flight Manual Supplement (AFMS) (or Rotorcraft Flight Manual Supplement (RFMS)).
  2. Flight attendant (F/A) manuals.j
  3. Flight Operations Manuals (FOM).
  4. For smaller aircraft, pilot’s operating handbooks (POH), including POH section IX supplements.
  5. Company FOMs.
  6. Maintenance manuals.
  7. Aircraft maintenance reporting manuals.
  8. Company standard operating procedures (SOP).
  9. Aircraft operating and information manuals (performance information, Weight and Balance (W&B), systems, limitations, etc.).
  10. Aircraft performance data manuals (fixed non-interactive material).
  11. Airport performance restrictions manual (e.g., a reference for takeoff and landing performance calculations).
  12. W&B manual, if a separate manual (fixed non-interactive material).
  13. W&B calculations.
  14. Takeoff, en route, approach and landing, missed approach, go-around, etc., performance calculations. Data derived from algorithmic data or performance calculations based on software algorithms.
  15. Other aircraft performance data manuals, including specialized performance data for use in conjunction with advanced wake vortex modeling techniques, and land-and-hold-short operations (LAHSO) predictions, etc. (fixed, non-interactive material for planning purposes).
  16. Operations specifications (OpSpecs), management specifications (MSpecs), or letters of authorization (LOA).
  17. Power settings for reduced thrust settings.
  18. Runway limiting performance calculations.
  19. Cost index modeling/flight optimization planning software
  20. Master flight plan/updating.
  21. Interactive plotting for oceanic and remote navigation.
  22. Note: A depiction of EFB own-ship may be included on this EFB application if the aircraft has a navigation moving map display (navigation display) providing concurrent display of the active flight plan, aircraft position, and aircraft trajectory (for example, heading if a heading is selected). The EFB application may display additional, unique data elements, such as other oceanic routes, but must have sufficient common data to allow the flightcrew member to resolve discrepancies.

  23. Maintenance discrepancy signoff logs (maintenance discrepancy logs need to be downloaded into a permanent record at least weekly).
  24. Cabin maintenance discrepancy reporting forms/location codes (maintenance discrepancy logs need to be downloaded into a permanent record at least weekly).
  25. Electronic aeronautical charts (e.g., arrival, departure, en route, area, approach, and airport charts) which may be static/pre-composed (raster), or dynamic/data-driven (vector).
  26. Note: A depiction of EFB own-ship may be included on this EFB application if the aircraft has a navigation moving map display (navigation display) providing concurrent display of the active flight plan, aircraft position, and aircraft trajectory (for example, heading is a heading is selected). The EFB application may display additional, unique data elements, such as airspace boundaries, but must have sufficient common data to allow the flightcrew member to resolve discrepancies.

  27. Electronic checklists (ECL), including normal, abnormal, and emergency. EFB ECLs cannot be interactive with other aircraft systems.
  28. Applications making use of the Internet and/or other Aeronautical/Airline Operational Control (AOC) or company maintenance-specific data links to collect, process, and then disseminate data for uses such as spare parts and budget management, spares/inventory control, and unscheduled maintenance scheduling, etc. (maintenance discrepancy logs need to be downloaded into a permanent record at least weekly).
  29. Weather and aeronautical information.
  30. Note: A depiction of EFB own-ship may be included on this EFB application if the aircraft has a weather radar display providing concurrent display of proximate weather hazards. The EFB application may display additional, unique data elements, such as turbulence or data outside the range of the weather radar, but must have sufficient common data to allow the flightcrew member to resolve discrepancies.

  31. Aircraft cabin and exterior video surveillance displays.
  32. Aircraft’s Category II (CAT II)/Category III (CAT III) landing records.
  33. Aircraft flight log and servicing records.
  34. Autopilot approach and autoland records.
  35. Cockpit observer briefing cards.
  36. Oceanic navigation progress logs.
  37. Approved electronic signature using Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) or private key technology.
  38. Cabin maintenance write-ups (maintenance discrepancy logs need to be downloaded into a permanent record at least weekly).
  39. Maintenance personnel signoff of discrepancy form (maintenance discrepancy logs need to be downloaded into a permanent record at least weekly).
  40. Aircraft Maintenance Manuals (AMM).
  41. Notices to Airmen (NOTAM).
  42. Required dispatch or flight release documentation.
  43. Icing holdover time tables.
  44. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Doc 9481, Emergency Response Guidance for Aircraft Incidents Involving Dangerous Goods.

Installation Considerations

It seems the FAA is getting out of the business of telling you how to "install" and use your EFB, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

[AC 20-173, ¶3] This AC addresses installation of EFB components. In the context of this AC, EFB components are “installed” when they are incorporated into aircraft type design under 14 CFR part 21 or as a proper alteration under 14 CFR 43.3. All other EFB components are considered “portable,” regardless of how often they are removed from the aircraft. There are operational restrictions on the use and capability of portable EFB components. Design of portable EFB components is outside the scope of this AC.

While this AC addresses installations incorporated into a type design, it offers things you should think about when using your "portable" EFBs. I was sitting in the right seat of a GV when the left seater's yoke mounted EFB fell between the yoke and the seat just prior to takeoff rotation. The left seater had the presence of mind to pull the EFB from between his legs and was able to rotate. The problem is even broader, as the next paragraph shows.

[AC 20-173, ¶5.a.(4)] Yoke Mounts and Clips. Applicants and operators should be aware of unsafe conditions potentially created when attaching a portable EFB component to the control yoke with an attachment mechanism, mounting device, or clip. For example, the weight of both the EFB and mounting bracket may affect flight control system dynamics or warning indications, such as aerodynamic disturbances or from artificial stall-warning devices (e.g., stick shaker); even though the mount alone may be light enough to be insignificant. The mass, moment of inertia, as well as the physical size of the combined mount and EFB, can all contribute to potential unsafe conditions which may require design changes to flight controls and additional flight testing upon installation. In 14 CFR parts 25, 27, and 29 aircraft, yoke mounting of an EFB is not recommended and all of the yoke mounting components (e.g., mounts, brackets, clips, etc.) for the EFB must be incorporated into the aircraft type design. When the EFB mounting device is not intended for a specific EFB model, document the demonstrated performance parameters for the mounting device (e.g., weight parameters) in the airplane or rotorcraft flight manual (AFM/RFM), airplane or rotorcraft flight manual supplement (AFMS/RFMS), operating manual, or instructions for continued airworthiness (ICAs), as appropriate.

I read this to mean you cannot mount an EFB on a yoke unless it is type certificated.

[AC 20-173, ¶5.b.(5)] Mount Cabling. If cabling is installed to mate aircraft systems with an EFB, the cable should not hang loosely and provisions should be made to easily secure any exposed cables out of the way during aircraft operations (e.g., cable tether straps). Cables external to the mount should be of sufficient length to perform the intended tasks. Cables too long or short must not present an operational or safety hazard.

If you are going to have power or other cables connected to your EFB, you need to make sure they are out of the way so they do not impact movement of any flight controls, switches, levers, or other cockpit components. Additionally, these cables should not impede your ingress or egress from seats.

Hardware

[AC 120-76D, ¶9] HARDWARE SUPPORTING EFB APPLICATIONS. In the context of this AC, EFB equipment components supporting EFB applications are “installed” when they are incorporated into aircraft type design under 14 CFR part 21, or as a proper alteration under 14 CFR part 43, § 43.3. All other components supporting EFB functionality are considered “portable,” regardless of how often they are removed from the aircraft. In order for portable EFB hardware to support EFB applications, installation of at least some EFB components may be required, depending on requirements for positional integrity (e.g., installed mounts), continuity of power (e.g., dedicated primary power port), and data connectivity (e.g., Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi®), and Ethernet). Airworthiness regulations do not apply to portable EFB components other than for specifications associated with the installed components (i.e., mounting (size and weight), power (maximum electrical load, voltage, and current frequency), and data connectivity (input/output (I/O) data specifications and security)). Regardless, this AC is applicable to any portable EFB components (e.g., mount, display, external Global Positioning System (GPS), cables/cords/adapters, and portable wireless transmitters) supporting an applicant’s authorization for use. Display of EFB applications on installed displays may require differentiation to enable the flightcrew member to distinguish between the installed avionics display and the supplemental or “secondary” EFB display. For guidance on the design of installed components supporting EFB functionality, refer to AC 20-173.

If you are operating under part 91K, 121, 125, or 135, this paragraph captures any portable EFB components, including external GPS receivers.

[AC 120-76D, ¶9.1.2] Portable EFB Hardware Components:

  • Must be capable of being easily removed from or attached to their mounts by flightcrew member personnel without tools or maintenance action.
  • Can be temporarily connected to an existing aircraft power port for battery recharging.
  • May connect to aircraft power, data ports (wired or wireless), or installed antennas, provided those connections are installed in accordance with AC 20-173.

Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC)

[AC 120-76D, ¶10.1] Portable EFB Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Demonstration. The certificate holder/operator must demonstrate all portable EFB components, including cords/cables for data or power, are electromagnetically compatible with aircraft navigation and communication systems. One of the following three methods in paragraphs 10.1.1, 10.1.2, or 10.1.3 must be accomplished to demonstrate portable EFB EMC with aircraft for all phases of flight.