FAA Updates Electronic Flight Bag Guidance

 - June 12, 2012, 3:43 PM

The FAA released Advisory Circular 120-76B late last week, updating the “Guidelines for the Certification, Airworthiness and Operational Use of Portable Electronic Flight Bags.” Naturally, much of the interest surrounding the updated AC involves how it applies to tablet computers such as the Apple iPad, which has gained a huge following among pilots in all segments of aviation.

According to NBAA senior manager of finances and tax policy (and formerly part of the Operations Service Group) Scott O’Brien, “It’s a safety-based document.” The AC outlines processes that the FAA recommends for safely incorporating portable EFBs, including the recommendation for rapid decompression and non-interference testing and battery safety and backups.

Part of the AC is confusing, O’Brien explained, because while the document applies primarily to fractional and commercial operations, it implies that Part 91 operators of heavy jets should consider following the AC guidance as well because they must fly with current charts. O’Brien suggests that Part 91 operators using iPads or tablets in the cockpit “be prepared to document what your mitigation strategies are,” even though this isn’t required by regulation. “It’s in your best interest to document what your plan is. Using the guidance here, you can do that pretty easily.”


Over the past 6 months I have incorporated a iPad into my flights, both IFR and VFR. In my near 40 years of flying I have yet to have the batteries fail on my paper charts.

Until we have fully capable aviation quality tablets, the best role for the iPad is as a back-up for panel instruments. Software has come a long way.

Most of my flights are over 900 NM and filed direct. The i-Pad serves as a back-up to a 530/430 combination. I download paper approach plates from AOPA before each flight for several alternates and the destination. If required to fly V airways, AOPA downloaded and printed log will give you ID, Freq. , distance and bearing for each WP. The probability of all of that failing at one time is so slight that it would be a very small % nummber. It is a much simpler and far less work than the huge bundle of paper that was needed when soley Jeppesen dependent. I also have a Garmin 186 with a synthetic GPS driven nav. panel mounted on the eybrow. This system has back-ups for the back-ups.

Sorry to be an old guy but, I've heard all this stuff before every time a new piece of equipement comes out. Don't trust those VOR's, DME's are for lazy pilots, and how many times do you now hear how real pilots don't use GPS. Well, I can tell you that every new idea from multigrade oil to variable pitch propellers and V tails all had there issues and even problems until we learned to use them appropriately. I have the Garmin 750 (with NOS charts) and in the last 6 months I've added the Ipad and Foreflight with ADS-b WX even though I have radar and stormscope on board. I still take paper charts with me but it is not because the two electronic devices are going to fail but rather than this old pilot takes a little time to get used to new things. Use the stuff correctly for you - the world is going to change whether we like it or not.

thanks for taking the time to read this.

If you fly over several centers more than a few times each year, the money saved not buying paper charts will let you buy two iPads. I personally recommend WingX but if you're really paranoid run WingX and Foreflight. If all that fails, tell ATC your situation. There's your backup!

In two years of using the IPad for IFR and VFR, I have had no problems, using a Bad Elf GPS has only improved the pad. The updates are always there and no paper or books to deal with. When you need a chart it is there, the IFR's are great, but how much of a pain is having the VFR charts for a flight. On the IPad they are all at your fingertips. Being an "old guy" (57) this is the best thing to come down the pike in a long time. I was amazed with Arnav, then Loran and to have GPS and now a small portable pad that does it all with moving map on the charts that I can take from plane to plane.

I think the airlines will benefit the most. Terms of paper cost and weight. United has come out with a savings of 16 million sheets of paper, and 326,000 gallons of fuel annually. Not mention to cost of printing related cost. For example, printer supplies, and maintenance.

source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/united-airlines-launches-paperle...

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