APA, American Airlines Launch First-Ever Charting Solution for Electronic Flight Bags


  Bookmark and Share

APA, American Airlines Launch First-Ever Charting Solution for Electronic Flight Bags

By Mike Mitchell

June 20, 2011 - The Allied Pilots Association (APA), a certified collective bargaining agent for the 11,000 pilots of American Airlines announced that the carrier has begun final testing of Apple iPad tablet computers equipped with electronic-charting functionality. 

“Last year American Airlines became the first carrier authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to use iPads as electronic flight bags for pilots,” said First Officer Hank Putek, a member of the APA Safety Committee who has led the union’s efforts to develop and deploy EFBs. “American Airlines has now become the first to deploy iPads with an electronic-charting solution.” 

Electronic charting provides pilots with a digital image of their flight route. The final testing phase is a prelude to FAA approval of the devices to serve as Class 1 Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) during all phases of flight. 

“By eliminating bulky flight bags filled with paper, EFBs mean less weight for pilots to carry, reducing the possibility of injury on duty,” Putek said. “In addition, they enable pilots to immediately download updates, rather than waiting for paper versions of required documents to be printed and distributed.”

Along with lower paper printing and distribution expenses, reduced fuel consumption represents another EFB benefit. The devices weigh approximately 1.5 pounds and replace paper flight manuals easily weighing 35 pounds or more that pilots are required to carry while operating a commercial flight. 

APA, American Airlines and Jeppesen collaborated on the development of the electronic-charting solution for the iPad. The final testing phase involves Boeing 777 pilots from the airline’s Los Angeles crew base. 

“With the recent announcement that Alaska Airlines will soon be issuing iPads to all of that carrier’s pilots to serve as EFBs, it’s clear that American Airlines stands at the forefront of a significant industry trend,” Putek said. “I’m extremely pleased that APA was able to play a role in bringing this effort to fruition.” 

Hardware: The iPad is commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) electronic hardware that is not approved or certified by the FAA. However, it can be authorized for use by a principal operations inspector if it meets the EFB criteria discussed in FSIMS, volume 4, chapter 15, section 1 and AC 120-76A.


For certificate holders and 14 CFR part 91 subpart K (91K) program managers, operation specification or management specification (OpSpec/MSpec) paragraph A061 must be issued to authorize the use of EFBs. For part 91 operators other than 91K, FAA authorization for use is not required. However, installation and airworthiness requirements specified in AC 120-76A are still applicable.  

Software: The Jeppesen Mobile TC App displays approach plates, terminal procedures, and airport diagrams and is defined as a Type B software application per AC 120-76A. The display of en route chart aeronautical information was not part of this particular evaluation or authorization. To be used in critical phases of flight, an EFB displaying Type B software must be secured and viewable. A kneeboard is one way to accomplish this.  

Class 1 EFBs with Type B software must not display the aircraft’s position, also referred to as “own-ship position,” in accordance with current policy (see AC 120-76A, paragraph 7c, and Appendix B). The Jeppesen Mobile TC App inhibits own-ship position.

The authorization process the FAA uses for certificate holders and program managers is contained in FSIMS, volume 4, chapter 15, section 1. Although the iPad is a relatively new computing device, when using it as an EFB it is treated the same as any other COTS device, subject to the authorizations and limitations applicable to portable Class 1 or 2 EFBs.

Other News Stories (For the latest news please checkout our home page)


Home Aviation News Aviation Stories Of Interest FAA Exam Upcoming Events Links To Other Sites General Aviation Helicopters Medical Factors Facing Pilots
Maintenance and Aircraft Mechanics Hot Air Balloon Aviation Training Handbooks Read Online Aviation History Legal Issues In Aviation Sea Planes Editorials
 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News                                          Bookmark and Share


AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator