The shift to electronic flight bags (EFBs) is well underway at most major airlines. But the earliest uses of these devices support chiefly pilots and flight operations, where they can bring major benefits quickly. Perhaps because it is more difficult, tying EFBs into maintenance operations with electronic technical logs (ETLs) usually comes afterwards.
For example, since 2013, Scandinavian Airline System’s cockpits have been paperless, and SAS pilots have used Class 1 EFBs. These are all iPads and have been issued to about 2,500 to 2,800 pilots, according to Marwan Al Taimeh, EFB administrator and A350 project engineer.
At present, Al Taimeh says these EFBs support operational documents, flight plans, performance calculations, fuel ordering in home bases, charts, communication between ground and flight crews, occurrence reports, weather applications and some other functions.
On short-haul flights, SAS has enabled the iPad EFBs to connect to the ground via Wi-Fi, and some EFB data is transmitted to the ground.
Al Taimeh says there have already been benefits to connected EFBs. “Pilots can get their next-leg flight plan if there are changes while cruising, get any roster changes, and check in for the next leg, order fuel for the next leg and access weather applications … The door has been open to make crew operations smoother, easier and proactive. Crews can become immediately aware of changes on the ground that affect their next flight.”
Electronic Tech Logs are not active on SAS’s EFBs yet, but Al Taimeh says they soon will be. He says Tech Log data will be transmitted to the ground by Wi-Fi during cruise or on the ground by 3G or 4G cellphone networks.