Airline Economics: How Tablet EFBs Enhance Maintenance and Troubleshooting Techniques

Since the release of the very first EFB (Electronic Flight Bag), there has been a rush in the market to further justify EFB adoption ROI through enhanced usage and functionality of these devices. One such example is the use of an EFB to increase airframe reliability.
With the advent of Class 2 devices being interfaced with the avionics and instruments of the aircraft, these systems are becoming a valuable and indispensable maintenance and troubleshooting tool. As the EFB is receiving input data from the on-board aircraft sensors and data collectors, some EFBs  have gained the added capability of capturing, and in some cases recording, many points of interest to maintenance technicians. Aircraft with installed customizable Class 2 EFBs are developing the ability to record occurrences such as hard landings, engine over-temperature events and even the occurrence of a failed coffee heater, if it is so connected to an onboard CMC, and provide these data points to operators, maintenance and fleet management personnel.

By becoming a connected airframe via the emergence of "aircraft-aware" applications, the reliability of the aircraft can be significantly increased, while reducing the down time for various checks associated with the aircraft maintenance program. Operators have the ability to then incorporate this data and findings into their CAMP (Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program) in order to accurately track and schedule the aircraft for the appropriate check at the time it is required. Moreover, improvements in onboard diagnostics help identify problems sooner, leading to fewer in-service incidents and shorter out-of-service times when aircraft are down for work. Instead of tearing things down, an operator can use collected data sent via the EFB and get more information, so the amount of time performing a check is reduced.

Preventative and corrective maintenance is also enhanced with data collected and distributed by an EFB. While tracking the required maintenance, using calendar, cycles or flight hours, the use of these devices can also allow an operator to track the need for unscheduled maintenance by recording data and indicating a flight or landing occurrence. This drastically increases aircraft safety and reliability while offering peace of mind along with increasing operational effectiveness to flight and maintenance operations.
Class 2 EFBs also improve fuel burn performance, help to optimize payloads, enhance situational awareness during taxi, and allow more take-offs at lower derates, all of which will reduce maintenance costs. Maintenance costs will be minimized by the reduction of engine hours and by lower engine loads, which in turn reduces wear and tear on critical engine components. By performing enhanced flight operation analysis, operators increase their mean-time-to-failure and mean time between unscheduled repair (MTBUR) for expensive rotable component inventories and power plants.

The flyTab Class 2 EFB solution is a perfect example of a fully connected and operator customizable EFB platform.  flyTab features a modular avionic design which supports forward fit applications and is a low-cost platform built around Apple’s popular iPad COTS tablets.  Best of all, the flyTab EFB solution has an available software developers kit (SDK) that works within the standard Apple Xcode application developer’s tool, allowing operators or their third-party development teams to easily develop their own unique operational solutions in the form of customizable “apps” which are capable of receiving and interpreting data gathered from aircraft systems and sensors.  This means no more recertifying EFB platform software just because an operator wants a custom feature or capability.
This new breed of “aircraft-aware” Class 2 EFBs also eliminates the need for pilot transcription of reports into other enterprise computing systems and reduces the technical schedule interruptions, no-fault-found, inventory, and other line maintenance and administrative labor costs by minimizing “human induced” errors through forms automation and digital data distribution. This all results in a lower out of service cost, increased dispatch reliability, increased regulatory compliance and improved correlation between faults reported and maintenance operations.

The possibilities are endless with a Class 2 EFB and the growing amounts of data collected by aircraft systems support a limitless variety of custom applications bound only by an aircraft operator’s imagination. As the popularity of these systems continues to grow and adoption rates continue to rise in today’s aircraft, the reality of an EFB providing your flight management team with real maintenance savings and increased safety is no longer an idea of the future, but a modern reality of the present, allowing both pilots and corporate fleet managers to be better decision makers from cockpit, to corporate.

Until next time, stay 5x5, mission ready, and Wired!

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