Farnborough Air Show

Jepp paperless cockpits grow

 - November 27, 2006, 12:46 PM

Jeppesen has announced the addition of three more airlines to the growing list of carriers that are moving away from paper in favor of electronic navigation charts.
EgyptAir and two Spanish carriers, Futura and Iberworld, have contracted Jeppesen to supply electronic charts and its e-Link online chart access service. EgyptAir’s agreement covers class-3 EFB (electronic flight bag) terminal chart and airport moving map applications. The Spanish airlines have contracted for class-2 charts.

Class-2 EFBs are normally portable touchscreen computers mounted in the cockpit, while class-3 hardware is increasingly integrated with the avionics for display of e-charts on the cockpit displays. Both can host the same software, although a moving aircraft symbol can be shown only on charts hosted on class-3 EFBs.    

This year marks the 10th since Jeppesen started supplying electronic cockpit charts. For many aircraft operators, e-charts (as they are known) have gone from a promising technology to an everyday necessity.

Airlines have been shifting to paperless cockpits after early regulatory barriers were lifted. Now Jeppesen, a subsidiary of Boeing, is preparing for its next generation of airline e-charts, which is being developed in response to suddenly strong demand from airline customers around the world.

The e-Link online access service is part of the strategy, according to Thomas Wede, Jeppesen senior vice president for commercial and military aviation. The service gives airlines access to charts and other information electronically via an Internet connection. Many carriers use e-Link in lieu of paper for their dispatch, training, flight operations and so on, Wede said.

Jeppesen charts can be hosted on class-2 or -3 EFBs, but not class-1 devices, which are the simplest of all products and usually consist only of a simple PDA running basic software. But airlines, avionics makers and Jeppesen are preparing for the day when class-4 EFBs make their debut. Right now class-4 guidelines are merely in the planning stage at regulatory authorities, but if approved the technology would interface with flight management computers and bring electronic charts to an entirely new level of sophistication.

When the technology matures, Jeppesen will be there with the software to support it, Wede predicted.   

The company also is developing an airways moving map to improve en route positional and reference awareness (including terrain information) while retaining paper aeronautical chart data.