Electronic flight bag

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Electronic flight bag showing the airport diagram of Avalon Airport

An electronic flight bag (EFB) is an electronic information management device that helps flight crews perform flight management tasks more easily and efficiently with less paper[1] providing the reference material often found in the pilot's carry-on flight bag, including the flight-crew operating manual, navigational charts, etc.[2] In addition, the EFB can host purpose-built software applications to automate other functions normally conducted by hand, such as take-off performance calculations.[3] The EFB gets its name from the traditional pilot's flight bag, which is typically a heavy (up to or over 18 kg or 40 lb) documents bag that pilots carry to the cockpit.[4]

An EFB is intended primarily for cockpit/flightdeck or cabin use.[5] For large and turbine aircraft, FAR 91.503 requires the presence of navigational charts on the airplane.[6] If an operator's sole source of navigational chart information is contained on an EFB, the operator must demonstrate the EFB will continue to operate throughout a decompression event, and thereafter, regardless of altitude.


The earliest EFB precursors came from individual pilots from FedEx in the early 1990s who used their personal laptops where are referred as Airport Performance Laptop Computer to carry out aircraft performance calculations on the aircraft (this was a commercial off-the-shelf computer and was considered portable).[7]

The first true EFB, designed specifically to replace a pilot's entire kit bag, was patented by Angela Masson as the Electronic Kit Bag (EKB) in 1999.[8] In 2005, the first commercial Class 2 EFB was issued to Avionics Support Group, Inc. with its Constant Friction Mount (cfMount) as part of the EFB.[9] The installation was performed on a Miami Air Boeing B737NG.[9]

In 2009, Continental Airlines successfully completed the world’s first flight using Jeppesen Airport Surface Area Moving Map (AMM) showing “own ship” position on a Class 2 Electronic Flight Bag platform.[10] The AMM application uses a high resolution database to dynamically render maps of the airport.[10]

As personal computing technology became more compact and powerful, EFBs became capable of storing all the aeronautical charts for the entire world on a single three-pound (1.4 kg) computer, compared to the 80 lb (36 kg) of paper normally required for worldwide paper charts.[11] Using EFBs increases safety and enhances the crews’ access to operating procedures and flight management information, enhance safety by allowing aircrews to calculate aircraft performance for safer departures and arrivals as well as aircraft weight and balance for loading-planning purposes accurately.[12]

The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) purchased an initial supply of over 3,000 iPad-based EFBs which were launched in December 2011.[13] In a similar acquisition, Air Mobility Command initiated a contract for up to 18,000 iPad-based EFBs.[14] The Air Force Special Operations Command internally developed a secure method of transferring the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency's (NGA) monthly Flight Information Publications (FLIP) dataset to all its users worldwide.

After trialing iPads as EFBs in 2011, Delta Air Lines announced in August 2013 it would replace a policy allowing pilots to use personal tablets as EFBs.[15][16] Delta planned to provide new certified EFBs to all of its pilots by May 2014,[17] after FAA approval in February.[18][19][20] Early risk of breakage to iPads used as EFBs was addressed through rugged case design.[21]

However, the purchase of iPad from AFSOC was cancelled in February 2012 due to security concerns, where Russian-made software procurement issues may cause potential risks to expose end users.[22]

Design features[edit]

EFBs were initially divided into a number of hardware classes and software types.[23] However, later EFBs simply were categorized as "Portable" (PEDs) or "Installed".[24] Portable can be considered to consolidate the previous Class 1 and 2 distinctions, while Installed is equivalent to Class 3. These simplifications made to reduce confusion and to harmonize with already-released EASA and ICAO guidance.

Legacy EFB hardware classes were:

  • Class 1 – Standard commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment such as laptops or handheld electronic devices. These devices are used as loose equipment and are typically stowed during critical phases of flight (below 10,000 feet).[2] A Class 1 EFB is considered a Portable Electronic Device (PED). Class 1 EFBs, such as Cockpit iPads, may be used to display Type B applications in critical phases of flight provided that they are 'secured and viewable'.[2]
  • Class 2 – Portable Electronic Devices, and range from modified COTS equipment to purpose-built devices.[2] Mounting, power (ship's power as primary) or data connectivity of an EFB typically requires the application of an STC, Type Certificate or Amended Type Certificate. (ref: FAA Order 8900.1)[2]
  • Class 3 – Considered "installed equipment" and subject to airworthiness requirements and, unlike PEDs, they must be under design control. The hardware is subject to a limited number of RTCA DO-160E requirements (for non-essential equipment—typical crash safety and Conducted and Radiated Emissions testing).[2] Class 3 EFBs are typically installed under STC or other airworthiness approval.[2]

EFB may host a wide array of applications, initially categorized in three software categories.[2]

  • Type A
    • Static applications, such as document viewer (PDF, HTML, and XML formats);
    • Flight Crew Operating Manuals, and other printed documents like airport NOTAM;[2]
  • Type B
    • Static or dynamic electronic "charts" to include (though not requiring) panning, zooming, and scrolling;[2](AC120-76(), Appendix B)
  • Type C
    • use as a Multi-function display (MFD); in at least one case as part of an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast system. Type C applications must run only on Class 3 EFB.[2]

Initially Type C applications were considered as subject to airworthiness requirements and as such must be developed in conformance with DO-178/ED-12 objectives and run on Class 3 EFB. Later, with release of AC 120-76D in 2017, reference to Type C applications were removed, and their functionality no longer an EFB functions.[25]


United States Federal Aviation Authority[edit]

While FAR Part 91 Operators[26] (those not flying for hire, including private and corporate operators) can use their pilot-in-command authority to approve the use of EFBs which are PEDs, operator with OpSpecs (Part 135, Part 121) must seek operational approval through the OpSpecs process[27] based on the following requirements:

  • PEDs used as EFB configuration must meet the rapid decompression testing requirements of standard RTCA DO-160E.[28]
  • Any mounting or attachment or data connectivity of PEDs used as EFB to aircraft systems shall be performed in accordance with an approved data (such as Supplemental Type Certificate, Type Certificate or Amended Type Certificate).[29]

European Aviation Safety Agency[edit]

For guidance on airworthiness and operational considerations for Electronic Flight Bags (EFB) for operators within Europe, EASA AMC 20-25 applies.

United Kingdom Military Aviation Authority[edit]

The UK Ministry of Defence takes the approach of clearing the airworthiness of EFB on specific aircraft types as 'Equipment Not Basic to Air System (ENBAS)' as described in Regulatory Article 1340. The Type Airworthiness Authority (TAA) and supporting Delivery Teams are responsible for this clearance to ensure that the EFB device in and of itself does not negatively impact the airworthiness of the aircraft in question. Regarding the approval of use of specific applications, this is the responsibility of the Aviation Duty Holder (ADH) chain.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Electronic flight bag". Australian Government Civil Aviation Authority. 23 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k [1], "Integrated communication and application system for aircraft", issued 2014-02-27 
  3. ^ Matt Thurber - (January 25, 2019). "Amazing Apps". AIN online.
  4. ^ "An Introduction to Electronic Flight Bags EFBs". RocketRoute. 2013-09-06. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  5. ^ Federal Aviation Administration. "Guidelines for the Certification, Airworthiness and Operational Use of Electronic Flight Bags" (PDF). US Department of Transportation.
  6. ^ Pilots Guide to Avionics 2012-2013. Aircraft Electronics Association. 2012.
  7. ^ Suppiah, Saravanan; Liu, Dahai; Lee, Sang-A; Dattel, Andrew; Vincenzi Ph.D., Dennis. "Impact of Electronic Flight bag (EFB) on Single Pilot Performance and Workload". Archived from the original on 2021-01-18.
  8. ^ USPTO Patents # 17,974,775 Masson; Angela Electronic kit bag; and, # 27,970,531 Masson; Angela Electronic kit bag
  9. ^ a b Careless, James. "Mounting Options for Modern EFBs By James Careless". Aerospace Tech Review. Archived from the original on 2021-04-11.
  10. ^ a b "Jeppesen Airport Moving Map to Improve Runway Safety by Reducing Incursion Risk". AviationPros. 25 March 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ "Electronic Flight Bag". World News. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  12. ^ Moorman, Robert. "EFBs: More Than Paper Replacers". Avionics International. Archived from the original on 2018-12-22.
  13. ^ Brewin, Bob. "Air Force Special Operations Command revises iPad purchase plans". Nextgov.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ Robertson, Adi. "US Air Force places order for up to 18,000 iPads". The Verge. Archived from the original on 2012-03-04.
  15. ^ Cole, Shane (27 September 2013). "Delta Airlines to distribute Surface 2 to pilots after iPad trial". appleinsider.com. AppleInsider.com. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  16. ^ Gandhe, Shreyas (27 September 2013). "Delta Airlines to equip pilots with Surface 2 tablets". Neowin. Neowin. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  17. ^ Bort, Julie (10 January 2014). "Here's The Microsoft Surface 2 Tablet Delta Bought 11,000 Pilots Instead Of IPads". Business Insider Australia. Allure Media. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  18. ^ Reising, Don (11 February 2014). "Microsoft's Surface 2 cleared for takeoff in cockpit". CNet. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  19. ^ Dent, Steve (11 February 2014). "FAA clears Surface for takeoff in US cockpits". Engadget. AOL Tech. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  20. ^ Walker, James (11 February 2014). "Microsoft Surface 2 approved by FAA for use in airline cockpits". Neowin. Neowin. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  21. ^ Zimmerman, John (2015-03-23). "The perfect iPad case and mount for pilots?". iPad Pilot News. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  22. ^ Brewin, Bob. "Air Force Special Operations cancels iPad buy". Nextgov. Archived from the original on 2018-05-21.
  23. ^ Schwartzentruber, Jeff (2017). "A Usability Study for Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) Flight Planning Applications on Tablet Devices for Ab-initio Pilots". International Journal of Aviation, Aeronautics, and Aerospace. doi:10.15394/ijaa.2017.1162. ISSN 2374-6793.
  24. ^ "What are the classifications of EFB?". bytron. Archived from the original on 2021-01-26.
  25. ^ FAA (27 October 2017). "AC 120-76D Authorization for Use of Electronic Flight Bags" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-04-10.
  26. ^ Authority, Civil Aviation Safety (2021-03-27). "Rules and regulations for using EFBs". Civil Aviation Safety Authority. Retrieved 2022-03-22.
  27. ^ FAA: EFB operational authorization and airworthiness/certification requirements
  28. ^ "Guidelines for the Certification, Airworthiness, and Operational Use of Electronic Flight Bags", 6 January 2012, p.12., FAA: EFB operational authorization and airworthiness/certification requirements, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration,. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  29. ^ Dubet (2003). "Aeronautical charts for electronic flight bags". 22nd Digital Avionics Systems Conference Proceedings (Cat No 03CH37449) DASC-03. IEEE. doi:10.1109/dasc.2003.1245955.

Further reading[edit]