The FAA has made a 180-degree turn in its attitude towards the display of own-ship position on electronic flight bags. Advisory Circular AC120-76D eliminated the prohibition from using geo-referencing or own-ship position displays while using moving map features on an EFB in the air. Using geo-referencing on the ground has always been acceptable.
This applied to operators under Part 91, 91K, 121, 125, and 135. Operators from parts 91K to 135 require FAA approval of their EFB programs, but Part 91 operators can use EFBs as they wish, without formal approvals.
This will enable many general aviation pilots operating under Part 91 to gain the benefits of moving map technology on their iPads without having to replace their steam-gauge panels with glass cockpits. As the sophistication of EFB applications from companies like Jeppesen (Boeing) and ForeFlight has increased and the ability to demonstrate the accuracy of positioning information, the FAA became more comfortable with the use of position-information in flight.
EFB classification has also been eliminated, and the former Classes 1, 2, and 3 are now history. The new definition of an EFB is “a device displaying EFB applications.” That could, in the near future, turn out to be a smartphone as well as an iPad.
In other changes, operators can make changes to their EFB programs without contacting their FAA principal inspector. The approval and updating process for EFB applications has gotten easier.
The Bottom Line:
EFBs are here to stay and have proven themselves. While for hire operations still require FAA approved EFB programs, the regulatory process has been streamlined, reflecting the reliability and sophistication of many EFB apps. The FAA is keeping up with technology, and recognizing the capabilities of an EFB.
This should result in the industry-leading applications that are approved by the FAA expanding their productivity and utility in the cockpit.
Now if we could only get ADSB into an EFB…..