The Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) Revolution and New Aviation APPS

EFBs, APPs, The Digital Age, and Device Mastery in the Cockpit

They call this the Digital Age, but to many of us born after 1985 this is how it has always been. We’re the first generations to growhelicopter-pilot-training-mobile-app-guidance-aviation up with laptops under our arms, cell phones in our pockets, and now tablets for everything in between. We can teach our parents and grandparents how to use this technology and we continue to adapt to new devices and technology daily. As device mastery becomes inherent nature, it only seems fitting to incorporate them into the flight planning cubicle and the cockpit.

Tablet devices, such as the iPad mini, are seeing deployment throughout the Aviation industry as what is being referred to as an Electronic Flight Bag. With implementation growing industry wide and quickly becoming the standard equipment, many organizations are starting to reap the benefits. American and United Airlines have become some of the first major commercial airlines to complete implementation and discontinue paper revisions. The implementation of iPads replaces nearly 40 pounds of paper-based reference material and manuals that pilots have carried for years to a one-and-a-half pound device that can be updated in seconds. They call it the paperless cockpit.

“Our Electronic Flight Bag program has a significant positive environmental and cost-savings impact,” said David Campbell, American’s Vice President – Safety and Operations Performance. “In fact, removing the kitbag from all of our aircraft saves a minimum of 400,000 gallons and $1.2 million of fuel annually based on current fuel prices.”

The EFB reduces the burden on the pilot and aircraft, enhances safety and enables operational savings for airlines as well as smaller operations. The value of this device for Aviation, pilots, and especially flight training cannot be understated. Most importantly flights schools around the country are implementing them into the initial training for new students starting at their Private Pilot Courses of instruction. Who can blame them? EFB implementation increases the interactivity, simplifies pre-flight planning, and increases efficiency in training and operations.

With the increased use EFB’s continue to receive, developers are keeping up by pitching five new aviation apps:

Jeppesen Mobile FD (Free in iTunes, subscription required)electronic flight bag cockpit apps
Jeppesen has added an app to support its current collection called Mobile FliteDeck (FD) said to increase situational awareness. FliteDeck will provide pilots with enroute chart data, aircraft positioning on approach plates, terminal charts and airport diagrams. It also supports multiple weather features including NEXRAD, icing, surface observations, turbulence, winds aloft, and lightning while allowing for saved flights, importation of active MyFlitePlan routes, and WIFI flight plans to/from Aspen Avionics.

FlightSafety (Free in iTunes, subscription required)electronic flight bag cockpit apps
FlightSafety International, the provider or professional aviation training, has released this app to provide its customers the ability to receive training materials electronically. This could be a great tool for training departments worldwide that use FlightSafety International as materials such as digital manuals, cockpit posters, flash cards, and guides can all be accessed through the app once customers are enrolled.

Sporty’s IFR Communications ($34.99 in iTunes)electronic flight bag cockpit apps Sporty’s Pilot Shop has released an updated version of their classic IFR communication videos as an app for the iPhone and iPad. This app claims to “not just be a rehash of basic radio procedures, but gives today’s instrument pilot a real-world look at IFR communications through all phases of flight in a variety of airspace.” This new and convenient IFR training aid could be a lifesaver for any pilot in IFR training especially with its 3D animations, in-flight video and real-world scenarios.

Flight Data Recorder Mobile ($5.99 in iTunes)electronic flight bag cockpit apps This app is meant to mimic an aircraft “black box” and record position, altitude and attitude data along with cockpit voice (CVR) so that complete flight information can be saved. The data generated by the app can then be imported into the Instructor Station program and can be played back in 2D/3D with simultaneous audio feed to re-live any flight. This will be a great tool for flight training instruction as instructors can utilize this tool to debrief their students by providing meaningful feedback based on the exact scenarios as they occurred.


PIREP Pro (Free in iTunes)electronic flight bag cockpit apps
PIREP Pro allows pilots the ability share and read pilot reports with minimal clicks. The app states that “heavy cockpit workload and busy controllers are no longer obstacles when it comes to issue a Pilot Report.”


For all you Windows and Android users out there I apologize for the iPad heavy list but unfortunately the development for the iPad platform is setting the pace. The Apple product is leading the pack as organizations and flight training departments are increasingly incorporating the iPad into their operations. For those of you who may have just received your new EFB or will soon and don’t quite know where to start, here is a recent list developed by AOPA’s senior vice president, Adam Smith, and his 20 favorite aviation apps.

-by Justin Landis

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