More and more airlines are transitioning from paper to electronic information services known as Electronic Flight Bags. These capabilities will provide for electronic distribution and viewing of navigation charts and other information to be used on the ground in flight operations or distributed to crewmembers for on-line viewing or data download.
EFBs are certified to a higher level than consumer electronic devices. This includes certified software for aircraft performance calculations.
EFBs are optional equipment for an airline.
- A Class I EFB has Type A software and is generally used for viewing electronic documentation, etc.
- A Class II system has Type B software and is used for viewing charts (in addition to everything the Class I device does).
- A Class III EFB has Type C software and can display own-ship position and communicate with other aircraft systems such as the engines.
Ship’s position can only be shown on an EFB if the software is certified using DO-178B.
The use of computers in the calculation of performance requirements has brought about improvements in the accuracy and ease with which they can be made. There remains, however, a continued vulnerability to the use of incorrect data in making these calculations, a solution to which remains outstanding. This accident serves to demonstrate that, given these circumstances, the existence of and adherence to robust procedures, and appropriately designed software and hardware, are essential.
The take-off phase of each flight is critical as the error-tolerance margin becomes very slim as the aircraft approaches the calculated take-off decision speed (V1). Normally, a rejected take-off (RTO) will be successful if initiated prior to reaching V1 and properly executed. Beyond V1, a RTO should only be considered should there be a strong reason to doubt the aircraft’s ability to fly.
- Obsolete databases not containing new obstacles and departure/arrival routes
- Cyber attack on database integrity
- Heads-down distraction of crew pre-occupied with EFB leading to loss of awareness of aircraft energy state or attitude
- Challenges of copying complex taxi clearances on a touch-screen-enabled device
- Difficulty in use of touch screens during turbulence
- Low time between failure compared with certified equipment
- Poor visibility/contrast of display
- Failure of mechanical mount/electrical connection in cockpit
- Failure due to pressurization cycles
- Susceptibility to radiated fields in cockpit
- Failure of battery power.
- Disconnect between aircraft/cockpit technology and airline infrastructure
- Pilots using EFBs for ship’s position for airport surface indication without proper software certification.
- Defaulting to takeoff weights from previous flight due to failure to enter current aircraft weight.
- Discrepancies between takeoff speeds between EFB and FMS. Takeoff speeds from the EFB can overwrite the FMS calculations.
Devices used for presentation of this information are sometimes sourced from the unregulated consumer electronics industry. The means to protect against cyber attack as well as means for the pilot to ensure the correct/latest versions of databases are available are as yet unclear. Also, there does not appear to be appropriate regulation universally in place.