An electronic flight bag (EFB) is "an electronic display system intended primarily for flight deck or cabin crew member use that includes the hardware and software necessary to support an intended function" (FAA Advisory Circular 120-76C, 5.g). A portable electronic device (PED) may also be used for operational purposes, for example a laptop or tablet computer. An EFB/PED may host a range of functions, such as aircraft performance calculations, electronic charts, documents, handbooks, and checklists. Today, EFBs/PEDs are used during operations at many airlines, both in the United States and in Europe (e.g., American Airlines, FedEx, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Finnair, and Lufthansa).
Development of EFBs/PEDs has accelerated rapidly in the past few years (see 2015 EFB Industry Survey). The business case for deploying these devices considers many types of benefits to airlines. In general, EFBs/PEDs are attractive because, relative to traditional avionics, they come at a low initial cost, can be customized, and are easily upgraded. Some benefits include reduction in costs associated with data management and distribution, potential reduction in training costs, increased safety and efficiency of operations, and the avoidance of medical costs associated with pilot injuries from carrying heavy flight bags filled with paper. Some airlines are even working directly with vendors to architect solutions for their specific needs.
Human factors research is needed to provide aircraft certification, operational approval, and training guidance to mitigate risks associated with the implementation and integration of EFBs/PEDs on the flight deck. The goals of this work are to (1) identify, understand, and help the FAA address human factors issues related to EFBs and PEDs, and (2) support the FAA in the development of future policy and guidance.