Learning the ABCs of EFBs

 - May 15, 2012, 8:45 PM
IFS’s paperless flight bag takes advantage of the iPad's lightweight convenient form factor.

Few product categories in aviation hold more promise or engender more confusion than electronic flight bags (EFBs), and few venues provide a better opportunity to sort out fact from fiction than here at EBACE. Copenhagen-based International Flight Support (IFS, Stand 2303) is among the exhibitors ready to provide attendees with guidance on EFB solutions.

“The biggest mistake often seen is that the EFB decision-making process is driven either by hardware or Class type considerations instead of by functionality,” said Jens Pisarski, IFS COO and vice president of sales and marketing. “The first step in the EFB selection process should be for the operator to determine which of its current company functionalities and/or business processes need to be converted from paper to digital format, and in which steps.”

Introduced in the late 1990s, EFBs hold the promise of automating cockpit functions, reducing time and costs, and improving efficiency and safety of flight operations. But flight crews and operators are often focused on simplifying manual operations, such as performing weight-and-balance calculations, without considering the bigger picture of flight department objectives and needs, according to IFS.

“The way forward is to select the right foundation for one’s EFB future,” said Pisarski. “If the only functionality required is a simple document reader and nothing else, then it might not be important to consider how the selected application integrates with other functionalities. However, what appears to be a short-term savings could be very costly in the long run if the operator ever decides to move forward with additional functionalities.”

IFS has been working with in-cockpit flight operational calculations since it created a software solution for the takeoff distance calculations and landing distance calculations upon its founding in 2001. “When the tablets came along it was natural for us to create a Class I and II EFB software solution for Windows-based units, and with the birth of the iPad we created a fully integrated iPad OS EFB version,” Pisarski said.

IFS’s solution, the paperless flight bag (PFB), can be connected to a variety of backend systems to power the EFB platform, from flight-planning providers and field performance calculation providers to route manual (chart) providers, as well as scheduling and crew-planning systems. “Our goal is to share this knowledge with those interested in moving forward toward the ultimate goal, the paperless cockpit, and not least, a paperless operator company,” said Pisarski.