EASA Report Paves Way for iPad Approval in Europe

 - December 3, 2012, 1:30 AM

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has released a software evaluation report covering the use of Jeppesen apps running on Apple iPad tablet computers and used as electronic flight bags (EFBs). The report outlines a clear path for EASA-based operators to seek approval from their local regulators for use of iPad EFBs with Jeppesen Mobile TC Pro and FliteDeck Pro apps.

The review was conducted by an EASA operations evaluation board (OEB). According to Jeppesen, “This evaluation report is the first that the EASA has ever granted for a mobile electronic flight bag (EFB) with navigation charting.” The review noted that the OEB “sees no technical objections to the grant by national authorities of an operational approval for the use of TC Pro iOS and FliteDeck Pro iOS software applications, taking the recommendations in this report into account.” The OEB report doesn’t cover hardware issues and suggests that hardware compliance is the responsibility of the operator.

The evaluators found that the iPad touchscreen behavior was satisfactory during ground trials and recommended that “Operators and their competent authorities should evaluate on a case-by-case basis that flight deck reasonably expected environmental factors (particularly turbulence) do not affect the usability of the touchscreen.”

Own-ship Position Displays

Like the FAA, the EASA continues to caution against use of own-ship position displays, which Mobile FD offers on the en route display (and which pilots are highly unlikely to switch off). EASA considers Mobile TC and Flight Deck Type B applications, and own-ship display as a Type C function, “thus requiring an EASA airworthiness approval.”

The OEB report added, “The evaluation has found that in order to be acceptable, the enabling of own-ship position must be controlled and restricted by the operator. This can be realized via the EFB administrator by locking down the location services of the devices and using the iOS passcode protection for the settings page, or specific to Flight Deck Pro by disabling the own-ship position indicators in the application settings. This should be the default setting when deploying the software to crewmembers, and the flight crew operations manual shall reference the Flight Deck Pro warning message in case own-ship depiction is enabled.”

The EASA also noted that the en route display is “considered useable only in Rnav-equipped aircraft.” This is because Mobile Flight Deck doesn’t replicate actual charts but dynamically displays en route elements such as airways, navaids, intersections, terrain, airports and so on but not items specified in ICAO Annex 4 such as changeover points, distance between VORs, signal gaps and waypoint formations.

The OEB report also included suggestions for pilot training and simulator Loft sessions to prepare for the switchover from paper to iPad EFBs. Training should include emphasis on intended use of the apps, verification of applicability of information, proper use of en route charts, dealing with app failure and restrictions on using the iPad for own-ship display and using non-EFB apps.