Electronic Flight Bag (EFB)

Information and data for flight crews to use on the flight deck has traditionally been in paper format but now much, if not all, of this information is available electronically.  The Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) is an electronic storage, retrieval and display system designed to replace traditional paper products in the cockpit. EFB devices can also store and display a variety of aviation data or perform calculations such as performance and mass and balance considerations. The scope of the EFB system functionality may also include various other hosted databases and applications. Physical EFB displays may use various technologies, screen sizes, formats and forms of communication.

The use of an EFB introduces a wide variety of hazards and risk that must be carefully managed.

Contrary to common perception, the application process for use of installed EFB’s on M-Registered aircraft is considerably simpler than most applicants initially thought, requiring less supporting documentation that portable EFB’s. The IOMAR fully encourage the use of flight crews taking advantage of the full functionality of installed EFB’s where possible.

The IOMAR categorises an EFB system as either ‘portable’ or ‘installed’ (replacing the previous Class 1, 2, and 3).  Portable or Installed EFBs harmonise with the ICAO (and FAA & EASA) terminology and helps to accommodate increasingly complex systems integrating both installed and portable equipment. These new system classifications will help to assist the scoping of the Operational Risk Assessment (see RP4 chapter 5.3.5.1).  EFBs can be either portable or installed (i.e., part of the aircraft definition).

At the point of dispatch a minimum of 2 sources of terminal/approach charts must be available together with at least one of all other required aircraft documents.

‘Electronic Flight Bag’ (EFB) is an electronic information system, comprised of equipment and applications for flight crew, which allows for storing, updating, displaying and processing of EFB functions to support flight operations or duties.

Portable EFB’ is not part of the aircraft configuration and are considered to be PEDs. They generally have self-contained power and may rely on data connectivity to achieve full functionality. Modifications to the aircraft to use portable EFBs require the appropriate airworthiness approval depending on the State’s regulatory framework.

Installed EFB’ is integrated into the aircraft, subject to normal airworthiness requirements and under design control. The approval of these EFBs is included in the aircraft’s type certificate (TC) or in a supplemental type certificate (STC).

'Critical phases of flight' in the case of helicopters means taxiing, hovering, take-off, final approach, missed approach, the landing and any other phases of flight as determined by the pilot-in-command or commander.’

'Critical phases of flight' in the case of aeroplanes means the take-off run, the take-off flight path, the final approach, the missed approach, the landing, including the landing roll, and any other phases of flight as determined by the pilot-in-command or commander.’

‘Portable Electronic Device’ (PED) is any kind of electronic device, typically but not limited to consumer electronics, brought on board the aircraft by crew members, passengers, or as part of the cargo and that are not included in the approved aircraft configuration.  All equipment that is able to consume electrical energy falls under this definition. The electrical energy can be provided from internal sources as batteries (chargeable or non-rechargeable) or the devices may also be connected to specific aircraft power sources.

Note: A PED becomes an EFB when:

  • it is used to display operational information during the flight;
  • it is used to calculate operational information relating to the flight, i.e. performance and/or mass & balance;

Or

  • as a back-up for a installed or portable EFB or paper charts.

The Isle of Man Aircraft Registry as the State of Registry is required by ICAO Annex 6 Part II & Part III, Section III to “establish criteria for the operational use of EFB functions to be used for the safe operation of aeroplanes/helicopters” and ensure that:

  • The EFB equipment and its associated installation hardware, including interaction with aeroplane/helicopter systems (if applicable) meet the appropriate airworthiness certification requirements.
  • The operator/owner has assessed the risks associated with the operations supported by the EFB functions.
  • The operator/owner has established requirements for redundancy of the information contained in and displayed by the EFB functions.
  • The operator/owner has established and documented procedures for the management of the EFB functions including any databases it may use.
  • The operator/owner has established and documented the procedures for the use of, and training requirements for, the EFB functions.

Note: aircraft operators shall ensure that portable EFBs do not affect the performance of the aeroplane/helicopter systems, equipment or the ability to operate the aeroplane/helicopter.

 

The Isle of Man Aircraft Registry recognises that different regulatory standards prevail and that strict alignment with one of the main regulatory regimes may present obstacles that do not enhance safety.  Therefore, the use of appropriate supplementary guidance from ICAO, EASA or other aviation sources may be used as an aid to meeting these standards.  This may include:

  • ICAO Doc 10020: Manual of Electronic Flight Bags.
  • FAA Advisory Circular No.120-76(): Authorization for Use of Electronic Flight Bags.
  • (EU) ED Decision 2014/001/R, 09/02/2014 Annex II, AMC 20-25.
  • Transport Canada Advisory Circular AC 700-020: Electronic Flight Bags.

Before applying for EFB approval, see RP4 section 5.3 for all the information you may need.

Subsequently an application for the approval of an EFB system should be submitted for each registered aircraft by the Operator/Flight Operations Representative (FOR) on Form 91 “Application for Approval of an EFB System” which includes the minimum Operational Risk Assessment (ORA) requirement acceptable to the Registry.

The ORA should be completed after the EFB system has been assessed by the EFB Administrator against the standards and guidance in this document.

As part of the ORA, the operator must consider the risks associated with a lithium battery fire and the effects of a rapid decompression.

The following information is available to assist the EFB Administrator/Operator.

Lithium battery fire and THERMAL RUNAWAY

Lithium batteries are incredibly popular these days. You can find them in iPads, laptops, mobile phones, AEDs, portable power packs etc. Faulty, poorly manufactured and misused lithium batteries can experience something called ‘thermal runaway’.  This results in them getting so hot that they can catch fire, explode and ignite other adjacent battery cells.  Such an occurrence on the flight deck could significantly disrupt the operation of the aircraft and cause serious injury to flight crew. Similarly, if such a thermal runaway occurred in the passenger cabin it could cause serious injury to a passenger or crew member.

There are videos and additional information available online which will provide support and guidance concerning the potential threat of the lithium batteries within an EFB (or PED) overheating, and the action required to manage a thermal runaway.

Some examples can be found below:

FAA video - Laptop battery fires 

FAA SAFO - Fighting Fires Caused By Lithium Type Batteries in PED

UK CAA video - Lithium batteries:guidance for crew

Transport Canada - Procedures for Fighting Fires Caused by Lithium Type Batteries in PEDs

RAPID DECOMPRESSION TESTS

Jeppesen have conducted rapid decompression tests on Apple iPad products which can be found on their website.