Electronic Flight Bags | Paperless Cockpit

Electronic Flight Bags

Electronic Flight Bag guidance and policy is always evolving, and while following resources are the most pertinent at the time of this writing, new policies and guidance may be available. Operators may use this EFB Guidance Library as a starting point for additional research.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Check out Sporty's iPad Legal Briefing for Pilots for another good resource on using an iPad as an EFB under current FAA policy.

Title 14 CFR Part 91.21: "Portable Electronic Devices"

Traditional EFBs are typically not permanently mounted in the aircraft and are considered Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs). Since as early as 1963, Gerneral Aviation operators flying under Part 91 rules have been able to authorize the use of these PEDs (in the cabin or in the cockpit) using the authority granted under Title 14 CFR Part 91.21: "Portable Electronic Devices". Under Part 91.21, the operator or Pilot In Command may authorize the use of a PED during any phase of flight.

FAA Advisory Circular 92.21-1B: "Use of Portable Electronic Devices"

AC 92.21-1B, "Use of Portable Electronic Devices", provides guidance on how the Pilot In Command operating under Part 91 rules can evaluate Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) for non-interference and authorize them for use in flight. This AC was updated in 2006 to address concerns regarding Transmitting Portable Electronic Devices (T-PEDs), such as mobile phones, and Medical-Portable Electronic Devices (M-PED), such as automated external deibrilators (AED).

Title 14 CFR Part 91.503: "Flying equipment and operating information"

CFR 91.503 lists specific equippage requiements for Part 91 Subpart F Operators (Operators of Large and Turbine-powered Aircraft). Particularly, CFR 91.503 states that charts and checklists shall be accessible to the pilot throughout the flight. Since CFR 91.503 does not specify that charts and other required information must be on paper, displaying that same information on an electronic device is acceptable, provided the operator can demonstrate an equivelent level of safety. As a result, using electronic charts does not alter the CFR 91.503 specific equippage requirements.

FAA Advisory Circular 120-76B: “Guidelines for the Certification Airworthiness, and Operational Approval of Electronic Flight Bag Computing Devices”

FAA Advisory Circular 120-76B: “Guidelines for the Certification Airworthiness, and Operational Approval of Electronic Flight Bag Computing Devices” provides a framework for defining and implementing EFB solutions in compliance with applicable FAA regulations. Primarily written for aircraft operators who fly under Part 121 or Part 135 rules, or anyone with OpSpecs or MSpecs (part 91 subpart K), AC 120-76B also provides guidance for Part 91 subpart F (large and turbine powered aircraft) operators who want to implement an EFB. Other Part 91 operators may use AC 120-76B as a "best practices" guide, but should refer to AC 91-78 for guidance specific to smaller Part 91 operations.

Several key points of AC 120-76B include:

  •  EFB hardware is seperated into into three Classes: Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3
    • Class 1 EFBs are portable devices and are not mounted and do not interface with aircraft systems.
    • Class 2 EFB are portable electronic devices that may be mounted using a removable mounting devices and may have read-only connectivity to aircraft system.
    • Class 3 EFBs are installed systems subject to airworthiness certification.
  • EFB software into three Types (Type A, Type B, Type C). It provides guidelines on Human Factors considerations, maintenance and airworthiness requirements, and provides guidance on how the OpSpecs approval process can be applied to the use of EFBs.
  • EFBs must be evaluated for Electromagnetic Interference,  Rapid Decompression testing requirements, safety of portable lithium ion batteries.
  • Operators should document  compliance with the EFB policy and testing requirements.
  • Use of own-ship position on Class 1 and Class 2 EFBs is expressly prohibited.

JAA Temporary Guidance Leaflet No. 36: "Approval of Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs)"

JAA Temporary Guidance Leaflet No. 36: "Approval of Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs)" is the JAA equivalent of AC-120-76A. TGL 36 and AC 120-76A have been harmonized between the FAA and JAA.

FAA Notice N 8200.98: "Electronic Flight Bag Job Aid"

This Notice expired in August 2007, but updated guidance based on it has incorporated into the FAA Inspectors' Handbook.

FAA Notice N 8200.98: "Electronic Flight Bag Job Aid" was written primarily for FAA Inspectors to clarify the application of AC 120-76A and the OpSpecs approval process to the approval of EFBs. In addition to providing extensive evaluation checklists, the EFB Job Aid includes an extensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) as well as example letters demonstrating how operators should request the initiation of an EFB evaluation with the FAA.

All operators, including Part 91 Operators, should refer to the EFB Job Aid as a "best practices" document as they establish their internal EFB programs.

FAA Advisory Circular 91-78: "Use of Class 1 or Class 2 Electronic Flight Bag (EFB)"

AC 91-78, "Use of Class 1 or Class 2 Electronic Flight Bag (EFB)", provides aircraft owners, operators, and pilots operating aircraft under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91, with information for removal of paper aeronautical charts and other documentation from the cockpit through the use of either portable or installed cockpit displays. According to this AC, Class 1 and Class 2 EFB can be used during all phases of flight operations in lieu of paper reference material when the information displayed meets the following criteria:
The EFB system does not replace any system or equipment (e.g. navigation, communication, or surveillance system) that is required by 14 CFR part 91.

The EFB system on board the aircraft displays only precomposed or interactive information which are functionally equivalent to the paper reference material which the information is replacing or is substituted for.

The interactive or precomposed information being used for navigation or performance planning is current, up-to-date, and valid, as verified by the pilot.

The operator complies with requirements of 14 CFR part 91, § 91.21 to ensure that the use of the EFB does not interfere with equipment or systems required for flight.

It further clarifies that the in-flight use of an EFB in lieu of paper reference material is the decision of the aircraft operator and the pilot in command. Any Type A or Type B EFB application, as defined in AC 120-76A may be substituted for the paper equivalent. It requires no formal operational approval as long as the guidelines of this AC are followed.

FAA Notice N 8900.17: "Electronic Flight Bag Systems Used in Aircraft Operated Under 14 CFR Part 91"

EDITOR's NOTE: Notice N 8900.17 no longer appears to be publicly available, and much of its content seems to have been incorporated into OPSPEC/MSPEC A061 and the FAA Inspector's Handbook 89001 CH 47, both of which are discussed later in this article. If you have an official link to N 8900.17, please contact coden@flyefb.com. The following information may no longer be accurate.

FAA Notice N 8900.17," Electronic Flight Bag Systems Used in Aircraft Operated Under 14 CFR Part 91", is the FAA Inspector's clarification AC 91-78, AC 120-76A and Notice N 8200.98. It clarifies several issues pertaining to Part 91 (including Subpart F operators).

According to Notice N 8900.17, the in-flight use of EFB systems to depict images in lieu of paper reference material is the decision of the aircraft operator and the pilot in command. Any Type A or Type B EFB application, as defined in AC 120-76A, may be substituted for the paper equivalent. It is suggested that a secondary or backup source of aeronautical information, or paper reference material necessary for the flight, be available to the pilot in the aircraft. The secondary or backup information may be either traditional paper-based material or displayed electronically by other means. Class 1 and Class 2 EFB systems can be used during all phases of flight operations in lieu of paper reference material

ASIs will not issue approvals or authorizations for Class 1 and Class 2 EFB systems to 14 CFR part 91 operators. Part 91 operators may use EFB systems to depict images in lieu of paper reference materials without approval or acceptance by the FAA. ASIs and AEG inspectors may provide technical advice and guidance to operators when requested to assist them in evaluating their selected EFB systems using AC 120-76A and N 8200.98, but will not issue FAA approvals for the EFB systems hardware and software applications.

OPSPEC/MSPEC A061, AUTHORIZATION TO USE AN ELECTRONIC FLIGHT BAG; ISSUANCE OF OPERATIONS SPECIFICATION/MANAGEMENT SPECIFICATION A061.

OPSPEC/MSPEC A061 clarifies the role Inspectors will play in approving Electronic Flight Bag solutions for operators flying under 14 CFR Parts 91 Subpart K, 121, 125, and 135. It should be noted that Part 91 and Part 91 Subpart F operators do not fall under the operational approval process described in OPSPEC/MSPEC A061.

Under OPSPEC/MSPEC A061's guidance, Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASIs) and Aircraft Evaluation (AEGs) do not approve Class 1 and Class 2 EFB hardware running Type A and Type B software. They may even approve Class 1 and Class 2 EFBs running Type C applications that have been approved under TSO-C165, Electronic Map Display Equipment for Graphical Depiction of Aircraft Position.

While it is up to the operator to demonstrate that Class 1 or 2 EFBs with Type A or B software meet their intended function, the AEG may request an Operational Suitability Report. These reports are published on OpSpecs.com under FSB Reports, and this site can be an excellent place to start when considering variations of EFB hardware and software on a particular airframe.

FAA Inspector's Handbook 89001 CHG 47: Electronic Flight Bag Operational Approval Process

As of this articles publication, 89001 CHG 47 is latest guidance on the EFB operational authorization process. While written specifically for the FAA's own Principle Operations Inspectors (POI), it unifies and clarifies much of the previous guidance, clarifies many of the unclear areas, and provides much clearer guidance to POI's regarding the FAA's role in approving EFBs.

Air Transportation Job Task Analysis (AT JTA) Number 4.1.210

While designed for AEGs, this document can be used as a "cheat sheet" for operators, software developers, or EFB manufacturers who submit their solutions to the AEG for Operational Suitability Approval. It includes it's own comprehensive regulatory reference, and can easily server as a template to assist operators in the process of starting their own EFB programs.

FAA Advisory Circular 20-173 - Installation of Electronic Flight Bag Components

AC 20-173 clarifies many questions regarding the power, mounting and data connectivity provisions required.

While the AC is consistent with established industry best-practices regarding power and data connectivity, this guidance takes a hard stance against yoke-mounted EFBs, stating: "In 14 CFR parts 25, 27, and 29 aircraft, yoke mounting of an EFB is not recommended and all of the yoke mounting components (e.g., mounts, brackets, clips, etc.) for the EFB must be incorporated into the aircraft type design."

In other words, EFB yoke mounts must be STC'd.

 InFO 11011: The Apple iPad and Other Suitable Tablet Computing Devices as Electronic Flight Bags (EFB)

InFO 1101 does not add any significant guidance to the Electronic Flight Bag body of knowledge other than clarifying how current guidance applies to operators who want to use Apple's popular iPad as an EFB platform.

If you have any additional resources you would like to see added to the guidance library, feel free to email them to editor@paperlesscockpit.com, or simply submit a comment directly on this page.


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