Air Berlin switches to Class 2 EFBs

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Air Berlin has started fitting Class 2 electronic flight bags (EFBs) from Sweden’s NavAero on its Boeing 737, Airbus A320 and A330 fleets.

The German carrier has been using Class 1 EFBs on its Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier aircraft since 2005, but feels it has reached the limits of the system.

Boeing fleet technical pilot Capt Tim Techt, line training captain for 737s, said: "Right now we have done everything we can do with the Class 1 EFB, that’s why we decided on the Class 2 – to extend the capability of the system."

Air Berlin intends to modify six aircraft per month, during base maintenance, over a period spanning 28 months.

Class 2 EFBs can gather data from the aircraft’s systems, while communication with the airline’s operations department will also be enhanced, with updates of flight plans over a 3G wireless network.

Air Berlin is also working to advance take-up of both required navigation performance (RNP) and GPS landing system (GLS) approaches. The airline has been collaborating with Germany’s DLR research agency on new procedure development, and is seeking approval for RNP approaches to Innsbruck.

All its Boeing aircraft are RNP-enabled, but Techt cautioned that German air navigation service DFS "needs to be on board as well – and this is the limiting factor". Its work with DFS on GLS is more advanced. Air Berlin has been performing GLS approaches to Bremen – which has a restricted GLS category I system using ground-based augmentation – since 2008.

Bremen airport is seeking full category I certification, although there is no timeframe for its approval. The carrier’s 737 fleet is fully GLS category I certificated.