EFB vs the “True EFB”

Mar 07 2016

In the aviation industry, you may have heard of organisations large and small adopting new electronic flight bag (EFB) technology. However, the general understanding of EFBs may not be entirely correct.

There is an important reason why we decided to write this article. In our discussions with various aircraft operators both large and small, we have found that several people we have spoken to believe that all you need for a successful EFB program are some tablet computers with key apps installed for the pilots. However, there is more involved. This is not being said to discredit the role of tablet computers and aviation apps, which are obviously key to a successful end-user experience. Admittedly clichéd, it is important to emphasise that tablets and apps really are the tip of the EFB iceberg.

Going directly to the source, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) defines EFBs as portable information systems that allow for the storage, updating, delivering and displaying of digital data to support flight operations.1 As part of this, CASA have defined several requirements an aircraft operator must meet in order to utilise EFBs in aircraft.2 These include:

  • Appointing an EFB Administrator
  • Providing an EFB training program for team members
  • Establishing procedures for controlling installed software on EFBs
  • Establishing procedures for data management

Of course, these dot points only provide an overview of the full requirements which can be found in CASA’s Civil Aviation Order (CAO) 82.03 (please see references below for a link to the full CAO). The point we wanted to highlight is that, in order to operate an EFB program that complies with CASA’s regulations, aircraft operators require more just a collection of iPads with some useful apps.

It goes without saying that EFBs deliver great benefits to operators. They deliver a considerable return-on-investment for aircraft companies, provide accountability through a single point-of-truth for document versions and deliver greater efficiency for pilots (for more information about this, check out our blog post on What Are the Benefits of EFBs?). However, in order to realise these benefits in a way that complies with CASA regulations, aircraft operators will require a management platform that underlies the EFB devices. This Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) platform will need to be used to control the device updates, impose necessary restrictions on the use of EFBs and ensure the security of company documents.

Ultimately, the goal of this blog post is to distinguish between apps that define themselves as “EFBs” and a holistic EFB system that meets CASA requirements. We refer to this as the distinction between “EFBs” and “True EFBs.” To reiterate, we are not making this distinction to discredit popular aviation apps that are used by pilots. Indeed, many of these apps have been approved by CASA to publish aeronautical maps and charts4 and, as such, we encourage all our clients to use them. What we want to do, though, is highlight that CASA-approved apps are not the same as CASA-approved EFB programs.

On that note, if you are interested in implementing an EFB program, Comunet can assist you in providing the holistic “true EFB” solution that we have discussed. We work with our aviation clients to deliver an end-to-end service that helps you to meet CASA requirements. If you would like to learn more contact us today. We will continue to write about all facets of EFBs in upcoming blog posts, but if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to leave us a comment below.