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The Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) revolution!
December 1, 2014, 6:25 pm
Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) solutions are gaining a lot of popularity among helicopter operators worldwide due to the advantages in terms of operational efficiency and safety levels they can potentially enable. An EFB basically allows pilots to have electronic access to the printed contents traditionally used during flight operations, as the Rotorcraft Flight Manual or Quick Reference Handbooks. But an EFB suite does not only involve converting information and presenting it on a pdf reader: OEMs and design companies are working to offer advanced and modern EFB applications that can simplify pilots’ workload during flight planning and execution. Electronic weight and balance charts, interactive performance diagrams, flight plan creators or debriefing tools are just a small example of the potential developments that the 'app' revolution can bring to the helicopter world.
EFB solutions are available in different architectures, integrated in the aircraft avionics or as a cockpit standalone portable equipment. From an upgrades point of view, the tablet (portable) installation is likely the most convenient, economic and less invasive option for operators.
HU.com has focused in this special on the 'hard' steps necessary to introduce an EFB upgrade on your helicopter and provide basic guidance on what the authority will be requesting. Essentially, these are the fundamental tasks operators will face when willing to introduce an EFB solution:
But, why investing in an EFB upgrade?
There are many articles on the internet illustrating and analyzing the advantages in flight operations efficiency, workload for pilots and safety improvements when transitioning towards an EFB compatible platform. One example is the CHC case (see this link) that is using a custom EFB design to harmonize and streamline its flight operations.
Other interesting articles online about EFB advantages that explore similar advantages are:
What to do to start operating an EFB portable solution?
As explained above, the first step is to select the right mount and power solution to be retrofitted on the helicopter platform. HU.com is working to offer approved "EFB supports" in conjunction with Design office partners . Operators can take a look to the Helicopter Upgrades EFB proposals currently offered in the catalogue or request for additional installations.
One of the big questions behind an EFB implementation is what to expect from the authorities. EASA and FAA are now in a mature stage of discussion and are approaching EFB installations in a structured way with operators. Essentially, the certification effort is broken down in two main areas:
i. Helicopter installation of the mounting structure and power outlets for the selected EFB device (i.e. iPad support and power sockets): these items shall undergo the traditional airworthiness certification against civil rules, same as other kits or aircraft equipments installed on the helicopter.
ii. Helicopter use of the selected EFB device (i.e. iPad flight use): EASA and FAA consider this item part of the Portable Electronic Device (PED) compatibility of the aircraft. The authorities have identified and issued documentation explaining the necessary steps to allow the use of PEDs during all phases of flight. Generally speaking, the operator shall demonstrate no Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) is induced by the portable EFB being used. To be noted that EASA and FAA are now allowing use of PEDs in all phases of flight even in beyond flight mode if EMI tests are satisfactory.
iii. Once the aircraft is cleared from an airworthiness standpoint, the operator must apply for a review with the authority to include the EFB features use into the approved flight operations procedures. It is important to consider that the specific EFB software might impact the result of the operations assessment, so operators are encouraged to use a proven EFB platform from an EFB supplier that has already been "discussed" and has positive feedback from the authority. After revising the operational structure, removal of paper flight documentation in the cockpit is possible if the authority concurs.
For further review, the official EASA and FAA documents that establish the EFB airworthiness (points i. and ii.) and operational (point iii.) requirements are included below.
Visit HelicopterUpgrades.com EFB proposal and future dedicated section to find more about EFB solutions for your requirements and mission.