Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Class 2 Tablet EFB's - From Want to Necessity in 48 Months

Digital technology and aviation is rapidly evolving. Most operators hold on absolute reliance on automated systems both in the air and on the ground and most of us now accept the assumption that computers do a better job of things than we do. Computers, in aviation, are everywhere – whether they are directly supporting flight ops with aeronautical data and as a paper emplacement in airplanes; or, they are carried onto aircraft in the pockets and bags of aircrew and passengers.
It’s important to be reminded that the electronic flight bag or EFB see that out of necessity to reduce costs by improving efficiency. In its simplest form the EFB is a method of replacing aircrew amenities that were once provided on paper by sorting them and storing them in a mobile computer that is built into the airplane.  There are numerous advantages to this, for example a library of manuals that must be carried on-board may weigh up to 50 or 60 pounds and it costs money to haul this added weight around the skies. Also, aircrew no longer has to fly with missing or out-of-date documentation. Gradually as aircraft operators have realized the benefits that their EFB systems were delivering, they also recognized their potential.  So the EFB has evolved into a tool that now plays a major role in flight safety due to the information that it delivers, and the manner in which humans use this data, largely due to its modern ability to connect with on-board avionics.
So what else can the EFB do?  Here are a few examples:
  • Navigation and Instrument Approach chart display like the one below;

  • Hold, maintain and sort libraries of manuals like the Minimum Equipment List or the Aircraft Flight Manual
  • Forms such as Aircraft Logbooks and other Air Safety Reports can be completed, and even automated, using the EFB in ways that ensure clarity and standardization of notation that reduce human induces errors and oversights.
Additionally, EFB’s can hold aircraft performance and weight & balance calculators and in so replace tabulated paper charts while providing more accurate takeoff performance information (V speeds) because they use actual data rather than data which is rounded to the nearest 100 Lbs. to make arithmetic easier for humans.  Here is a performance calculator for a B757:

There are many other uses, which are relevant in the modern, often unpredictable world, including: cabin surveillance, communications, Air Traffic Control applications like ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast).

The advantages and benefits to airlines of deploying EFB fleet-wide are compelling and, depending upon the total cost of entry, can easily be justified through competent ROI analysis in as little as 12-18 months.  Here is another example:
  • Flight Tracking – rapid dissemination and promulgation of vital information to aircrews is an important safety feature.  Tracking allows flight crew managers on the ground to see when a crewmember has opened an important flight crew notice and obtain an “R&I” declaration that s/he has read and understood its contents.

The principle of the EFB is a sound idea that offers the operator gains in air safety and operational efficiency through enhanced surveillance and operating cost reductions.  And today, with the ubiquity offered by Tablet EFB (computer) platforms like the Apple iPad, Class 2 capabilities are easily afforded in a form factor that allows pilots to carry on/off their company issued, or approved BYOD (bring your own device), allowing these cost and operating advantages to extend beyond the cockpit and support a broader base of training, communications, reporting and planning requirements.
Today, the next era of these connected realities is upon our industry with Class 2 connected tablet computers.  The flyTab Class 2 iPad EFB solution is now a reality, and certified for use in nearly every Part 25 transport category aircraft.  This convergence of advanced avionics domain data with the usability and portability of the COTS iPad tablet allow airlines to not only provide low-cost augmented reality and forms/document automation but also allows the real-time recording of aircraft flight data, and speedy delivery over air-ground data systems such as Iridium SATCOM, Gatelink, LTE or inexpensive Wi-Fi.  IT also allows the rapid architecture, design and deployment of Type A & B EFB software applications that can easily be deployed upon highly qualified and airworthiness certified platforms using development tools and processes that are not only abundant, but are frameworks already approved by the world’s CAA’s.  Operator customization, which used to be non-existent in early EFB platforms, is now fast, inexpensive and can be adapted, even conformed, to the airlines own unique operating environment, minimizing implementation obstacles – which directly relates to cost savings.  And because the developmental frameworks for the customized systems is built upon a proven hardware platform and fielded with TSO’d equipage, device and applications training is minimal and often transparent to the end-user and regulatory authorizers.
To conclude, EFB computing devices have everyday benefits that support not only aircrew members, but also corporate managers and executive leaders in their visibility over nearly ever aspect of the flight operations and continued airworthiness.  These advances directly lends to enhanced access to information and allows everyone from cockpit-to-corporate to make the most informed decisions possible thus enhancing safety, dispatch reliability, minimizing strains to crew resource management, improving communications, training, materials management, and overall operating efficiency.  And in a world of razor-thin margins, what responsible airline manager is willing to cede the obvious benefits these data points provide in the name of short-terms gains.  Our sources say very few.
Until next time, stay 5x5, mission ready and Wired!

Monday, January 20, 2014

ASIG & Team flyTab Achieves First Flight with FAA-Conforming flyTab Class 2 iPad EFB

For Immediate Release

1/20/2014 | North Little Rock, AR
Avionics & Systems Integration Group (ASIG) today announced that its flyTab Team has successfully completed the first on-aircraft certification of its FAA-conforming flyTab Dual Class 2 iPad EFB. The event is a significant step in the flyTab Team’s delivery of the completely customizable flyTab Class 2 EFB system, which is built upon system attached Apple iPad devices.
The first conforming flyTab system was installed on a NAV CANADA Flight Inspection CL-600-2B19, which, following system sign-off, lifted off Saturday January 18, 2014, from Calgary International airport upon completion of the test evolution. The flyTab system was configured with dual 3-stage flyTab EFB mounts, two Power Conditioning Modules (PCM) and an Aircraft Interface Module (AIM).  Off-The-Shelf Apple iPad devices, which ASIG environmentally qualifies at the company's North Little Rock, AR environmental test facility, were loaded with the company’s flyTab Cockpit app for iOS, which is a free diagnostic and simulation tool available online from the Apple App store.  Operationally, NAV CANADA’s Flight Inspection team will utilize Jeppesen Flight Deck Pro for aeronautical data with flight referencing upon FAA and TCCA aviation authorities issuance of the STC approval.  The flyTab system was activated for system testing and remained online for approximately 8 hours, during which time the aircraft’s avionics and performance data were recorded and analyzed while systems checks were conducted. Various test data gathered during the test evolution were transmitted real-time to FAA inspectors and ASIG’s product certification team.
“This is a very important milestone for the flyTab product line,” said Van Simmons, Director of flyTab SDK and iOS AppDev. “The system was assembled, installed and tested in accordance with strict FAA certification processes, and we are very pleased to have achieved this successful operational milestone. Our team has worked extremely hard to reach this critical step in the flyTab program, and these results reflect the flyTab Team’s focus and determination to develop a class-leading and cost effective EFB platform.”
“We are very encouraged by our initial review of the aircraft data, which indicates the conforming flyTab system performed as expected. As we move forward, we will continue to focus all of our efforts and energy to deliver to our customers the most advanced EFB integrations, at the best value while ensuring our customers are able to collect, aggregate and analyze flight operations data in both the cockpit and corporate environment so they can make more informed decisions faster.” said Luke Ribich, Managing Director of ASIG.
To support the company’s certification program, ASIG will complete its second FAA-conforming aircraft, a NAV CANADA DHC-8; and third, Aramco Services B767-2AX, soon after the FAA issues the AML-STC. ASIG also has completed configuration assessments for a variety of Part 27 and 29 rotorcraft.
While ASIG concludes this test program with its conforming flyTab system, the company is nearing completion of developer license agreements with a variety of domestic and international OEM and third-party applications developers. Upon issuance of the AML-STC by the U.S. FAA, TCCA and EASA, validation will be completed for the supplemental type certificate, making flyTab Class 2 iPad EFB solutions available for transport category aircraft operators across the globe.
The flyTab is the only Class 2 EFB solution for Apple iPad devices in the world which features full aircraft integration and modular support for one-to-one iPad deployments by allowing pilots and flight departments to deploy the iPad EFB in a “walk-on / walk-off” configuration. flyTab EFB features an average ROI of less than 12 months and is the perfect balance of technology, form, fit, function and cost. And with the available flyTab Software Developers Kit (SDK), airlines, OEMs and aircraft manufacturers can easily develop, deploy and support a full catalogue of embedded applications and enterprise tool for iOS with rapid and low-cost deployment cycles using Apple design standards for iOS applications while ensuring aviation human factors standards aren’t compromised by sluggish designs!
The flyTab iPad EFB is the definitive Class 2 iPad EFB solution, specifically designed with commercial air carriers and Part 25 transport category aircraft operators in mind. Providing far more than a simple user interface, the flyTab suite of products and available installations allows any airline or operator to affordably integrate FOQA/FDM and other enterprise applications while lowering operating costs, reduce compliance risk and fees, enhance dispatch reliability while increasing crewmember situational awareness.
The flyTab team’s goal is to extend aircraft systems and sensor data into the broader airline and flight operations enterprise through deliberate alliances with equipment and aircraft OEMs, air carriers, civil aviation authorities and enterprise intelligence providers serving the broader aviation industry. flyTab’s alliances with these industry partners is pushing the boundaries of typical aircraft “connected” technologies and creating a whole new, and smarter, operating reality to our common customers, allowing them to be more informed decision makers from the cockpit... all the way to corporate.
Avionics & Systems Integration Group (ASIG, LLC)., a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) is a privately owned Texas Limited Liability Company., ASIG specializes in integration engineering, certification & program management, FAA-PMA manufacturing and the installation/repair of Communication, Navigation, Situational Awareness and Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) equipment for aircraft & other air vehicles. ASIG also performs research and development of emerging technologies in support of aircraft operations, maintenance, alteration and repair activities for civil, commercial, government and foreign flight departments.  More recently, ASIG has been redefining traditional class 2 EFB systems from the very start of the tablet era. We are building a whole new ecosystem of connected devices intended to extend existing flight deck functionality beyond the cockpit, and beyond the airport! Our leadership in this new and exciting field of convergence is thorough and established on the core principles of dependability, knowledge, integrity, and excellence in both attitude and execution. No one individual or company is an expert at all things, that is why ASIG has established the flyTab consortium and is working closely with thoughtfully selected industry partners who are leaders in their respective fields, Shadin Avionics and SpatiOS, an AppOrchard company. Together the flyTab team is ensuring the entire flyTab ecosystem delivers the absolute best in modular avionic design, technology, function and efficiency iPad EFB available on the market.
-    Visit us online at: http://www.flyTab.aero 
-    Visit our YouTube Channel: http://bit.ly/KhMXqg
-     Download flyTab Cockpit for iOS Free: http://bit.ly/14VXgJX