Aircraft IT Operations – March / April 2018

Aircraft IT Operations – March / April 2018 Cover


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Moving forward with a tablet EFB program

Author: David B. Abbott, Director of Business Development, Avionics Support Group (ASG)

The World according to IT & Me!
Moving forward with a tablet EFB program
Everyone has seen and agrees that tablet devices (whether you choose an iPad, Surface or Toughbook) have changed the airline industry for good. The major questions now are deciding how to start your EFB program and how to get the most from it.
As an analogy, let’s look at today’s parents who are teaching their kids how to swim. Most choose to put ‘water wings’ on their kids to introduce them to the pool. There is nothing wrong with this approach. The good news is that the child learns that there is nothing to be afraid of in the water and that the pool is actually a really fun place to be. The bad news is that no child can learn how to swim properly while wearing water wings. They must shed the water wings and start from scratch.
Now we look at an EFB program. A lot of airlines are starting their program by using a suction cup mount or some other home-grown mounting solution. This approach is fine. The good news is that it’s cheap and lets Flight Ops prove to management and finance that a tablet device can be used as a successful EFB device. However, the bad news is that this is the end game, just like water wings. A long term, successful EFB program requires the ability to add power to the tablet and to be able to tap into the data busses on the aircraft to support more complex tasks like communication, weather and own ship position. This cannot be achieved with a suction cup or other temporary mounting devices. So, the airline must scrap this first implementation and start over with a dedicated STC mount, power and cradle.
So, the question is this:  Do we start with a cheap suction cup as a temporary solution or start with a more solid foundation on which we can build a more robust EFB program? With our in-house FAA DAR / DER as principles of the company, we at Avionics Support Group (ASG) believe in doing things right the first time and that there is no reason to throw good money after bad. You can only build a great house once you have first built a solid foundation.

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