Trouble for iPads in the Cockpit?

The FAA is proposing an advisory circular that would severely curtail the use of EFBs, including the Apple iPad, in the cockpit. Photo courtesy Brandon Farris, copyright 2011

The FAA is proposing an advisory circular that would limit the use of iPads and other electronic flight bags (EFBs) in the cockpit below 10,000 feet. AOPA and GAMA, two large aviation advocacy groups, have voiced their opposition to the proposal. Such a proposal could stunt the growth of EFBs over the next few years.

The proposed advisory circular, known as “Guidelines for the Certification, Airworthiness, and Operational Use of Electronic Flight Bags EFB,” is concerned with the use and development of these devices under the Next Generation Air Transportation System. Advocacy groups are concerned that under the current proposal EFB use wouldn’t be allowed below 10,000 feet or that expensive testing programs would be required.

The groups are so put off by the proposal, that they have asked the FAA to scrap the current proposal and start anew. Both AOPA and GAMA have expressed their support for EFB technology, including iPad based solutions, believing that they are an affordable option to provide pilots with NextGen capabilities. Under the proposed advisory circular, however, these devices would no longer provide much benefit to the average pilot.

The concern is that, the proposal applies to “operational use” of all EFBs rather than current regulations which only require “operational approval” in certain situations. The groups are asking that the FAA limit the effect of this proposed change to Part 91 operations to subpart k.

Additionally, the groups feel that requiring a stringent and rigorous testing program for off-the-shelf electronics at the operator level is wasteful and impractical. Instead the groups suggest that the FAA limit these requirements to EFB solutions incorporating Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and RNAV guidance. This would allow simpler devices, like iPads displaying charts or simple handheld GPS receivers, to  improve situational awareness while holding more advanced devices to a higher standard.

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Source: Electronic flight bag crusher?
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at

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