Rapid Decompression testing has been a major obstacle for many operators interested in implementing Electronic Flight Bags. The recently released version of FAA Advisory Circular 120-76B: “Guidelines for the Certification Airworthiness, and Operational Approval of Electronic Flight Bag Computing Devices” raises the bar on EFB hardware by requiring platforms to be tested according to RTCA DO-160 standards for Rapid Decompression. Fortunately for iPad 2 users, PaperlessCockpit.com’s iPad KABOOM! Community Project already has successfully performed the DO-160F Rapid Decompression test at an altitude of 51,000 feet and made the DO-160F Rapid Decompression Test Certificate available for download. PaperlessCockpit.com does ask operators to make a donation comparable to the value they expect to receive from the certificate, with donations supporting ongoing PaperlessCockpit.com Community Projects, like iPad KABOOM!
Below is the pertinent language from FAA Advisory Circular 120-76B (emphasis added):
(a) Environmental Tests.
Other environmental testing, specifically testing for rapid decompression, may be necessary. Testing completed on a specific representative EFB make and model configuration may be applied to other EFBs of the same make and model. It is the responsibility of the operator to provide documentation that these tests have been accomplished on at least one representative sample of each make and model of the EFB. Representative testing is an appropriate level of testing for modern solid-state devices. The testing of operational EFBs should be avoided when possible to preclude the infliction of unknown damage to the unit during testing.
(b) Rapid Decompression Testing.
Determining an EFB device’s functional capability requires rapid decompression testing when utilizing Type B software applications in pressurized aircraft, unless alternate procedures or a paper backup is available. When using only Type A applications on the EFB, rapid decompression testing is not required. The information from the rapid decompression test is used to establish the procedural requirements for the use of that EFB device in a pressurized aircraft. Rapid decompression testing must comply with RTCA/DO-160 guidelines for rapid decompression testing up to the maximum operating altitude of the aircraft in which the EFB is to be used. Similarity of a particular EFB to a unit already tested may be used to comply with this requirement. It is the responsibility of the operator to provide the rationale for the similarity.
- Pressurized Aircraft. It is necessary to conduct rapid decompression testing for Class 1 and/or Class 2 EFB devices when the EFB has Type B applications and/or is used to remove paper-based aeronautical information in a pressurized aircraft in flight. When a Class 1 or Class 2 EFB has successfully completed rapid decompression while turned on, no mitigating procedure needs to be developed beyond dual redundancy. If a Class 1 or Class 2 EFB device demonstrates rapid decompression testing while turned off and is fully functional following rapid decompression, then procedures will need to be developed to ensure that one of the two EFBs onboard the aircraft remains off or configured so that no damage will be incurred should rapid decompression occur in flight above 10,000 feet mean sea level (MSL).
- Unpressurized Aircraft. Rapid decompression testing is not required for a Class 1 or Class 2 EFB used in an unpressurized aircraft. The EFB must be demonstrated to reliably operate up to the maximum operating altitude of the aircraft. If EFB operation at maximum operating altitude is not attainable, procedures must be established to preclude operation of the EFB above the maximum demonstrated EFB operation altitude while still maintaining availability of required aeronautical information.