Arinc’s EFB: light on the pocket, heavy on merits

 - October 4, 2007, 5:25 AM

Arinc has introduced an electronic flight bag (EFB) for pilots that is notable for its ease of use, handy size and a price that the Annapolis, Md. company hopes will entice corporate flight departments seeking to move away from paper charts.

The EFB is built by navAero of Chicago and has been selected by DHL to fly aboard its Boeing 757s. Named Arinc eFlightDeck, the unit includes an 8.4-inch touchscreen and remotely mounted PC that its maker said can be used with both airline-proprietary flight applications and Windows-based flight software. The Class II EFB carries a starting list price of less than $3,500, according to an Arinc spokesman.
He said eFlightDeck features a customizable screen with finger-tip file management, application launching, drag, zoom and optional communications functions–all with- out the need for a traditional stylus. Large touch buttons on the display help prevent errors, he said, adding that the screen has a wide illumination range for readability in bright sun or at night.

An Arinc-developed Windows operating “shell” replaces the traditional Windows desktop and runs an array of popular commercial flight software, from mapping and weather programs to maintenance and checklist applications. Integrated USB ports on the EFB allow electronic updates of nav charts and other information. In the near future, Arinc plans to offer video surveillance, checklists, technical logs and aircraft performance applications, bundled into the hardware package, most likely for an additional price.

Ed Montgomery, Arinc vice president for aviation and air traffic services, said the eFlightDeck, with its open architecture, is designed to be a “future proof” product. “It should meet the needs of virtually any carrier, and provide a new set of tools to enhance operations and safety today, as well as accommodate new requirements tomorrow,” he said.

The navAero tBag C2 computer at the heart of the eFlightDeck concept consists of a light and thin color TFT LCD touchscreen with a 140- by 100-degree viewing angle. The entire display unit measures 9.4- by 6.2- by 0.6 inches, making it less wieldy than some other touchpad EFB computers on the market.

The manufacturer was able to design such a lightweight screen because all of the computer electronics are housed in a remote cradle. Inside the cradle is a self-contained Windows XP PC with a 1 GHz processor, 40 GB hard drive, 512 MB of memory and USB input. The PC slides out of the cradle, making the entire setup portable. As a result, no STC is required to fly with the device.

During a recent demonstration of eFlightDeck, the computers were running charts from the National Aeronautical Charting Office, the government office that publishes and distributes U.S. government aeronautical charts. Charts and approach plates are now being offered digitally by NACO on CD-ROM, including terminal area charts, sectional charts, world aeronautical charts, low- and high-altitude en route charts and terminal procedures, including SIDs and STARs.